Smut with substance?

If you haven’t heard anything yet about the book Wetlands – written by a German pop TV show host Charlotte Roche – hear this: it’s probably the most graphic and squeamish novel I’ve ever read. It beats J. G. Ballard’s Crash for shock value, it makes you blush more than Anais Nin, and (I’m told) it makes The Vagina Monologues look tame. But for all its boundary-breaking, the jury is out on exactly where the value is in reading Wetlands. Think you’ve read it all? Seen it all? Heard about it all? (Done it all?). Think again…

Continue reading


Read all about it

The Great Gatsby – every word of it – is an unlikely theatrical success story. Jodie McLeod reports.*

Jim Fletcher as mystery man Jay Gatsby
Jim Fletcher as mystery man Jay Gatsby

SEVEN hours and 35 minutes is how long audiences will spend in the theatre when New York theatre company Elevator Repair Service presents Gatz in Sydney. The show, a verbatim performance of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, is about five times longer than the average theatre production.

But Gatz‘s director, John Collins, says length should not be off-putting. “There’s a special excitement and a sense of accomplishment that the audience feels when they leave the theatre and they’ve just heard an entire novel in one sitting,” he says.

Collins, who is also the company’s artistic director, originally wanted to trim the novel when he first began working on a stage adaptation in 1999 but quickly decided editing it was a no-no.

“The narrator’s thoughts are such a huge part of what makes this a great novel. And so that became the project: how would you stage a novel without rewriting or cutting it?”

Continue reading

Weaker sex fantasy: Another reason why women love Twilight

twilightcoverFantasy is not my favourite literary genre. It was a struggle, I admit, for me to read The Hobbit, not to mention Harry Potter; and I didn’t even go near The Chronicles of Narnia. So when I heard about the next fantasy-series craze that was sinking its teeth into millions of readers around the world (of course, the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer), I was about as excited as a vampire in a vege patch. But then I began to hear whispers that they weren’t your ordinary fantasy novels, and that what had Meyer’s mostly female readership hooked wasn’t spells and sorcerers, but the sexual tension between the main characters: the fact that they resist the urge throughout the entire circa 2000-page story to have ravenous vampiric sex.

Abstinence… exciting? My interest piqued, I decided it was time – two years after the book’s release – to break my ‘fantasy’ abstinence and find out what it was that made Meyer’s writing tick, or tickle, the fancy of millions of women readers. Continue reading