November 17, 2004

The Backyard Mark II

It’s not really mark II - there have certainly been more than two backyards in my life - but this is the second one I’ve put up here. Our somewhat eccentric landlord built our flat himself, and it sits at the back of the section so there’s no space for a yard. Instead, there’s a courtyard out the front and a balcony off the second level that gives a lovely view of the city and the harbour. As mentioned, my room features a private courtyard/deck, and that’s what’s pictured here. My room isn’t very big, certainly not in comparison to the palatial dimensions of my Mt Vic abode, so being able to open a door to outside gives a much-needed illusion of space. I’m not entirely sure why the fence isn’t finished, but I can explain the pile of wood slabs and the leaning plank. In days gone by there was a staircase leading from the courtyard up to the roof, from where I took the picture. I’m guessing that it was all a little ‘home-made’ for council compliance and that’s why it’s been dismantled - that or it simply fell apart. Luckily for a seasoned roof-climber such as myself it poses no problem whatsoever.

Last weekend I finished Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart. I loved it. It really made me think, and I’m proud to say that I even re-read one forty-page section just to make sure I was fully understanding it. When Sumire first disappeared I was a little uneasy, with memories of missing persons in Hey Nostradamus and the Lovely Bones. But hers was quite a different kind of absence. I planned to visit the library on Saturday, but I needed something to read when I woke up so I grabbed a copy of Nabokov’s Lolita that I’d spotted amongst the still-not-unpacked debris. The only Nabokov I’ve read is Pnin, and going by the movie version of Lolita it promised to be quite a different experience! Following my visit to the library (no Bizgirl in sight, funny that ;) I have put Lolita aside in favour of The Backward Sex by Ian Cross. Cross grew up in my hometown of Wanganui, and set his novels in places familiar to me, at a time long before my birth. I studied The God Boy by Cross at high school in 3rd or 4th form (that’s age 13-14) so on a whim I thought I’d check out his other novels. Next time I visit the library, maybe there’ll be some more Murakami or Palahniuk available.

That reminds me – I stopped by the old flat the other night to retrieve some more belongings (just a few posters and a lot of plants left now) and the temporary German flatmate whose name I can’t spell (sorry T) lent me a battered copy of Tolstoy’s War & Peace. Should make a great doorstop…


Blogger supergood said...

Well that beats concrete and a washing line.

8:43 pm  
Blogger MMark said...

Your place looks to be on it's way. Remember, that the oddities that surround you, to include you landlord, will only help develop you into a more resistant person. Nietche made at least one good point with " What won't kill you, will only make you stronger".

1:30 am  
Blogger The Saturnyne said...

Oh the infamy! the infamy! Using Mr Tolstoys very fine epic as a doorstop! Oh! I'm going to write to my MP and demand we declare war on you immediately...


1:47 am  
Blogger Barry said...

Is Mr Murakami new to you? I keep meaning to read more of his works, as he's a pretty special author, but so far I have only had time to read "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World".

I'm sure you'll find Lolita an interesting, perhaps challenging, read as Humbert weaves his self-justifacatory (think that's a word) story. Ive read it 2.5 times and every time it has been a great read. Pale Fire is possibly an even more important novel.

Haven't read God Boy since I was a teenager, I remember not liking it at all (but my reading of the time was more Wilbur Smith/Ian Fleming than anything serious) - it would be an interesting experience to have another go.

5:19 am  
Blogger Jessie said...

He is new to me. My friend Marilyn has recommended 'Hard Boiled Wonderland..' to me, so I'm on the look-out for it.
Cross is okay, rather old-fashioned though.

7:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jessie, you should read Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, it was the first of his I read and it set me off on a murakami binge - Dance Dance Dance and Hardboiled Wonderland etc are very good too, also Norwegian Wood which I think was his 'breakthrough' novel - a bit different from the others in that it's more 'romantic' (rude bits!).
Also the Cuts have a song called 'Wind Up Bird Chronicle' and it's fun to sing along with lyrics about being down in a well and REALLY KNOW what they mean!

10:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree about Wind-up Bird Chronicles - it's great. He has a thing about people who get lost in some way. Norwegian Wood still haunts me.

I've also got a copy of War and Peace... but I'm thinking of building a Wiki on my site so I can keep track of all the characters. Last time I tried to read it I got hopelessly confused after the first 100 pages.

- Alan (

1:00 am  
Blogger Jessie said...

I'm definitely keen to check out some more Murakami once I can get my hands on it. I was set to re-start the Nabokov but then Coupland's Microserfs arrived in the mail. Microserfs is a close second to my favourite Coupland, Life After God. It's actually got positive themes! Go Doug!

2:30 am  

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