MY BOOKS by an Australian teacher who believes The Hulk is one of the classic tragic characters of modern literature
Glen Donaldson is a Year 3 Australian school teacher who lists his three favourite words as (1) bugbear (2) Pollyanna and (3) shenanigator. Glen owns two Dobsonian telescopes – one of them working. He never tires of popping bubble wrap and cites his all-time favourite movie as the Charles Bronson classic THE MECHANIC (1972).
Glen blogs weekly and uniquely at SCENIC WRITER’SSHACK.
What’s the first book you remember reading (or being read to you)?
Seven at One Blow is bBased on a classic fairytale written by the Brothers Grimm in 182, this story uses the time-honoured ‘misunderstanding’ device to power its narrative. A mild-mannered tailor kills a number of flies with a single swish of his trusty fly-squatter. When he makes the mistake of telling the locals in his village he has ‘killed seven in one blow’ they assume he is talking about giants and nominate him as the village’s defender against one such over-sized marauder who is menacing the local towns people. Like an astronomer stares in wonder at a clear night sky, this book well and truly captured my imagination as a child. For any more proof it came out in the seventies, check the front cover illustration.
Can you name a book from your childhood that made a big impact on you?
If by impact is meant the number of re-reads it prompted, then this child-hood favourite is at the top of my list. Plot-wise, while perhaps not at the level of anything from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon, The Mystery of the Green Ghost still allowed me to believe back then I was several notches above the Scooby Doo crowd. In a fit of nostalgia I recently bought an old copy on eBay.
What book are you reading right now?
Translated from the original work written in Finnish (the official language of Finland), Rabbit Back Litrature Society gives real meaning to the truism – behind every reality lies another – and another. Combining elements of whimsy and darkness, this quirky tale centres on substitute teacher and aspiring writer Ella Milana and the strange goings-on she uncovers in the fictional town of Rabbit Back.
And the one you read before that?
Ok, so no-one could ever accuse me of being exclusively high-brow in my reading tastes. Another relic from my childhood I recently re-acquired courtesy of what I call on-line ‘time machine’ shopping. Hulk hates humans and would prefer to be left alone rather than have to mix with them. Even creatures like The Silver Surfer who make overtures of friendship are shunned by this unjolly green giant of the Marvel Universe. Truly, for my taste, one of the classic, tragic characters of modern literature, even if that may be super-stretching like a rubber band the use of the term. Favourite nonfiction book?
This seminal true-crime classic was written by the lawyer who put Charles Manson behind bars. Bears convincing testimony to the idea that truth is stranger than fiction. Helter Skelter is my number one read of all time.
What book (if any) have you found yourself re-reading over the years?
I’m currently on my third re-read of Ripcord. An endorsement on the front cover says – “I’ve never read a better account of a battle.” I couldn’t agree more. And I’ve read hundreds.
Burning books is wrong. What contemporary book (written in the last 30 years) would you save from a bonfire?
Californian author Jincy Willett is my go-to word magician for stories adorned head to toe with the most cliché-busting, uber-entertaining sentences a human mind can conceive. Here she masterfully employs the meta-literature/surrogate author approach to tell the story of Amy Gallup, a once promising author who now teaches a writing workshop at her local university to make ends meet. When one of her students is murdered the clues to the identity of the killer are suspected to lie in her students writing which she is now forced to examine more closely. A fire-proof classic read with a hilarious take on the writing life at its centre.
What classic would you save from a bonfire?
Modern culture would be so much the poorer without the fable of the blood-sucking, shape-shifting vampire penned by Irish author Bram Stoker all those years ago. No Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No Hotel Transylvania. No Bouncy Castle Dracula. Ok, maybe we could have done without Dracula being performed in its entirety on an inflatable ‘bouncy castle’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back in 2008 but still, with the possible exception of Sherlock Holmes, you’d be hard pressed to find a character whose made a greater impact on the fictional world and by extension popular culture than this one.
If you were giving a book as a present what book would you choose?
Can I answer that question by pointing out two books I would not gift to someone? Not because they’re not well written. Not because the author is not an expert-without-par on his subjects. But simply for reason of their length. At over 700 and 800 pages respectively, these two forensically researched tomes by Australian author Peter Fitzsimons stretch historical-account verbosity to Amazonian lengths, ensuring that no one but the most zealous fan of subjects would have the necessary endurance needed to survive the marathon reads. I was with an adult friend back at Christmas time who received one of these two thinking man’s door stops from his well-meaning elderly parents. Naturally my friend managed the requisite happy smiles while removing the candy-cane covered wrapping paper. Several hours later as we were reversing out the driveway I asked him whether he would actually get around to reading his weighty boon. “No chance” was his succinct reply.
Finally, what do you prefer: a real book with pages that move, an ebook, an audio device?
I’m a dog-earer from way back. With each passing day I seem to put more of the ‘old’ into old school so in a landslide decision my vote goes for Team Paper Book. The vacuum cleaner may have been invented a long time ago but the broom carries on in true age-defying style.
Would you like to take part in MY BOOKS? I would love to hear from you so drop me a line at bridgetwhelan AT hotmail.co.uk if you would like to contribute. Please put MY BOOKS in the subject line.