More Ladies-Doing-Well Lists, Please

WildI’m frustrated that we require ‘women who did well in their respective fields’ articles and blogs, occasionally even allowing myself to wonder how much we still need them or how useful they are any more.

But then our ‘prime minister’ and, worse, ‘minister for women’ (and yes, I’m using those rabbit ears extremely deliberately—I called it at the time and didn’t and wouldn’t ever vote for that turkey) went and said his greatest achievement for women in 2014 was repealing the carbon tax.

Boxing Day or maybe the day after, a report was released that confirmed what we all already knew: Abbott has a woman problem. (In truth, I think he’s got a human problem, but semantics.)

His achievement-for-women idiocy was the first thing I saw when I woke up that day and I’ll not deny I fair nearly combusted. Thankfully, some smart lady or lad came up with #PutYourIronOut, which was the whole farcical insult’s saving grace. Here’s the contribution Randall, one of my adopted ex-battery hens, made to it.

Randall put the iron out. She'd rather you worry about factory farm-exacerbated climate change (and cruelty) than a pithy $550. ‪#‎PutYourIronOut‬ ‪#‎operationchooken‬ ‪#‎chookens‬
Randall put the iron out. She’d rather you worry about factory farm-exacerbated climate change (and cruelty) than a pithy $550. ‪#‎PutYourIronOut‬ ‪#‎operationchooken‬ ‪#‎chookens‬

The other saving grace is that while social media continues to bring me our politicians’ outrageous stupidity (I’m based in Queensland where Campbell Newman and Clive Palmer fight Tony Abbott for the fool limelight), it also brings me heartening, inspiring news.

These include Bustle’s collated list of writers who happen to be women (see what I did there—they’re writers first and foremost) who in 2014 hit it out of the park.

And you know what? Reading Bustle quoting Cheryl Strayed saying female writers had a ‘banner year’, I was dubious. As the stats the article quotes note: as recently as 2013, women both weren’t hugely being hired as reviewers and their books weren’t hugely being reviewed. So to have a bust-out year just 12 months on? Yeesh, that’s a big call.

But scrolling down the list, I saw what they meant. 2014 was, indeed, a decent year for female writers. I was even more chuffed that I’d either read said writers’ 2014 works, or some of their oeuvre, or they were at least on my to-be-read radar.

Amy Poehler: tick. I’ve even blogged about her fabulous book. Donna Tartt: tick. I’ve read her other works and have The Goldfinch on my shelf, even if its content heft is currently intimidating me into not reading it until I have aeons of time.

The Goldfinch(I’m not afraid of long books; I’m only afraid of not having enough time or brain space to read it and instead Game of Thrones-ing it. That is, putting it down and picking it up so many times I’m, like, who is Algernon Whosamawotsie again, and why is he important to the story?). Bonus points for having blogged about it too.

Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist and all-round clever and impressive lady. Her graphic novel/memoir is progressively being bumped up my to-be-read list. I actually remember my friend raving—absolutely raving—about Fun Home back in 2006, and I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. Gah. She was also just, like, named a genius. As in a proper genius, not the term we loosely bandy around.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is also on Bustle’s list. She’s one of those writers I keep coming across and whom I keep adding to my list of writers whose books—plural—I really must read. I’ve heard her speak a few times (via the interwebs, but I’d love to hear her in person at a writers’ festival here in Oz) and she’s impressed me inordinately. I can only assume her books will do so too.

So, while I’m sad we have to have the lists at all, I’m all for more ladies-doing-well lists and less ‘ministers for women’ touting his carbon tax fails.

The Kind of the Rest – My New Novel

In my last post I wrote about a nightmarish scenario in which books we read are created automatically by a software algorithm. I’ve had time to think about it since then, and to use the wonderful TweetWriter, a promotional tool for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. TweetWriter takes the body of writing that makes up your Twitter feed and creates a customised book based on your style of expressing yourself, which, as everyone knows, is usually at its finest in tweet form. Here’s my automagically customised back cover blurb:

When asked to described the real Joel Blacklock, Joel would often say “I am the walrus”, but 127 loyal fans will always know Joel best as the prolific writer who published over 1643 works, all written from Joel’s secluded playboy style mansion in Sydney, Australia.

In this astonishing latest work, ‘THE NAME OF THE KIND’, Blacklock’s writing is both mesmeric in tone and labrynthine in structure, and is surely destined to achieve the status of a contemporary classic.

Hear that? ‘Mesmeric in tone and labrynthine in structure’. One hundred and twenty seven fans can’t be wrong!

Let’s just say the software algorithm that will write a true bestseller is some time away. Quite aside from the fact that the back cover blurb is littered with errors and the title of the book is different on the front and back (I tend to think The Name of the Kind is better than The Kind of the Rest – thoughts?) I can’t imagine a single person would even pick this book up off the shelves.

Nonetheless, for the curious and the lazy, here are a few of Twitter’s finest minds at work.

The always adorable @stephenfry:

The redoubtable @johnbirmingham, erm I mean John Birmingha:

The terrifying @tara_moss:

What about our potential prime ministers? Here’s Red:

And the Mad Monk?

Check out your own book titles and link to them in the comments.

The Melbourne Writers’ Festival runs from 27 August to 5 September 2010.