The first episode in the three-part TV series ‘Books that Made Us’ was screened on ABC TV last night. (If you live in Australia and missed it, you can catch up on iView.)
This episode, called ‘People’, was themed around great characters from Australian fiction. This was how it was described on iView:
As an actor, Claudia Karvan knows great storytelling is all about people, great characters. What truths we can uncover about ourselves through the fictitious characters of Australian novels?
Having been starved of Australian literary fiction for about 20 years while living abroad, it was a delight to see this beamed into my living room! I was so familiar with the names and had read several of the books. I had even interviewed one of the authors in the past (hello, Tim Winton) and met another a couple of times (hello, Christos Tsiolkas).
While there was perhaps a bit too much focus on Karvan in the show and too heavily weighted toward contemporary fiction, there was enough meat on the bones in this episode to keep me entertained. And I even learned a thing or two. It wasn’t highbrow or dumbed down, but tread a careful middle ground.
And, more importantly, it wasn’t all fawning over writers and praising their work. In her opening interview with Christos Tsiolkas, Karvan confessed she never finished the book because she hated the characters so much! I’m sure that’s not the first time Tsiolkas has had that criticism levelled at his book, but perhaps the first time he’s had to defend it on television. I think he did it pretty well!
The books covered in episode one
I thought it might be interesting to list the books covered in episode one. Here they are, in alphabetical order by author’s surname. As ever, hyperlinks take you to my reviews
- ‘They’re a Weird Mob’ by Nino Culotta [not read, but we had a copy in the family home when I was growing up – amazed to discover it was written by an Irish-American, not an Italian immigrant]
- ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ by Peter Carey [abandoned in my pre-blogging days but as a much more experienced reader, I would be prepared to give this one another go]
- ‘The Choke’ by Sofie Laguna [not read this, but in the TBR]
- ‘Too Much Lip’ by Melissa Lucashenko
- ‘The Lebs’ by Michael Mohammed Ahmad
- The ‘Edith Trilogy’ (‘Grand Days’, ‘Dark Palace’ & ‘Cold Light’) by Frank Moorhouse [admittedly never heard of it but want to read immediately!]
- ‘Honeybee’ by Craig Silvey
- ‘The Slap’ by Christos Tsiolkas
- ‘Cloudstreet’ by Tim Winton [read and loved when it first came out in the early 1990s and am probably due for a reread!]
The next episode, entitled ‘Place’, will be screened next Tuesday at 8.30pm.