- Signs Nan is getting too much heating
- Cognitive benefits for children of having an imagination Christmas and/or birthday
- Do the children really need that many school shoes?
- It’s character building – reasons to give up on civilization and live in the pop tent for four to six months
- Watching A Current Affair stories for tips on how to teach the children to steal on your behalf
- Funding the family vacation and starting a family cock-fighting syndicate in your own backyard
- Scrumping – lists of houses with apple trees and climbable fences
- Encouraging creativity – sewing patterns for fashioning clothes from potato sacks
- IKEA and Squatters rights – tips for hiding in the show room so you can sleep there after hours
- Teaching ANZAC spirit – having a war rationing themed April to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WW1
- Alternative birthday entertainment – why you getting drunk and dancing for the guest’s amusement is much better than hiring a clown
- Utilizing the neighbors’ sprinklers for bathing and saving big coin on your next water bill
- Alternatives for buying your teenager a phone such as two cans attached via a string
- Your next family pet – handy hints on catching a possum from the park
- The everyman guide to doing your own dentistry
- Bathroom saving hacks: manually de-plying the toilet paper and keeping the towels pristine through air-drying
- Food budgeting – getting a Dominos tattoo and free pizza for life
- Only suckers spend money on sleeping bags – saving on your next camping trip by pulling a Bear Grylls
In the 2008 book The Economy of Prestige, Professor James F. English wrote that newly established literary awards are able to solidify their necessity through ‘reference to some failing or lack in its more esteemed predecessor’. Nowhere is this assertion more noticeable than Australia’s female literary award The Stella Prize.
Awarded for the first time in 2013, The Stella Prize emerged as a direct response to under representation of female writers among literary award winners; in particular the Miles Franklin Award – regarded as one of Australia’s most prestigious literary awards.
The Stella Prize’s objective is to annually celebrate the best book to emerge from either fiction or nonfiction, by an Australian woman that year, and through this create a greater public interest in books written by women.
It is comparable to other prizes such as Britain’s Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction – which also attempts to counter perceived flaws in longstanding judging practices.
However, what makes James F English’s statement particularly applicable to The Stella Prize is the importance of its name and the overt point it makes.
By naming the prize after the founder of The Miles Franklin Award, Stella ‘Miles’ Franklin, The Stella Prize is making a clever point about the need for a literary award specifically for women.
The name is simultaneously associating the award with a deeply respected female author as well as a jab at The Miles Franklin Award. It’s a powerful public reminder that Miles Franklin was a woman who needed to go by a pen-name for her work to be taken seriously, and it implies that The Miles Franklin Award has not fulfilled her vision.
According to one of the founders, Sophie Cunningham, The Stella Prize’s creation is necessary because,
The Stella Prize highlights subjectivity and flaws, and makes us question literary awards as a means of determining prestige. Yet, by creating a new award in the hope of bolstering the presence of female writers, The Stella Prize demonstrates that literary awards remain a prominent feature in book culture and do have an effect on the success of a book.
There are a few animal/show-business type questions which do occasionally cross my mind.
I wonder whether a consequence of literally every animal sport film, is that every single sport rule-book now includes a 30 page list of species that are barred from joining the team.
I naively wonder whether there is even the smallest possibility that Babe is still alive.
I wonder just how many kangeroo paw-sticks the sickos who made the show Skippy needed for the close-up handshake scenes.
And, much as I would rather not think about it, I do wonder whether Tarzan actually dated gorillas before Jane showed up.
Also what do you think was the ultimate objective the bird’s had when they took over in The Birds? Were they just sick of our shit? Could the humans have thrown a truckload of hot chips to appease them?
So on that note, let’s talk about a few classic animal narratives within literature, and the unanswered questions they too have left me with.
Animal Farm (George Orwell, 1945)
This is one of those books where it is quite obvious why people are made to read it in school – the Stalinist parallels are about as subtle as a brick to the face.
Also given how much I relate to Mollie the horse – who is swayed to go back to a regular farm because she misses sugar-cubes – it’s probably definitely a sign that I’m really not a team player.
Anyway I’m sure you’re all probably loosely familiar with this allegory of the farm animal’s failed attempt at a utopia where all animals are equal.
The animals choose to overthrow their oppressive captor, Mr Jones, following the vision of Old Major – a respected elderly prize pig – for a future where all animals are free from humans.
Personally though, the one detail which I really don’t think get’s the attention it deserves is just how nonchalant all the humans in this book seem to be about how bloody fast the animals in this book can organize group projects and teach themselves to read.
Mr Jones spends a good deal of the book sitting around the pub having a moan, like this kind of thing is somehow not that absurd. And I kept thinking when the other surrounding farmers pull down the windmill that the animals have been building for two years, wouldn’t you just be impressed that the animals built something? Why hasn’t the press visited?
Charlotte’s Web (E.B White, 1952)
This book raises another question I’ve long had – how come Wilbur’s the one who gets famous instead of the spider who can write in English for some reason?
Watership Down (Richard Adams, 1972) *spoilers
Watership Down is surprising. Initially you assume that you’re not going to get that emotionally invested in the lives of some fictional rabbits – you’re not a child and the film Marley and Me failed to move you because you’re a cold hearted monster. But then you massively do, to the point where you’re not sure you’ll be ok if Fiver doesn’t survive.
It’s just such a beautifully dark story, the main rabbits are just such a noble little squad who’ve got each other’s backs – and fuck being a rabbit would be pretty grim, even if all the characters have really adorable names like Strawberry and Thistle.
To roughly sum up, a small group of rabbits flee their warren because Fiver has the capacity to sense when something bad is about to happen, and he has this vision of ‘blood across the warren’. It details the dangers the group face beyond the warren they’ve known their whole life, and – in the later half of novel – how establishing their own warren is reliant on challenging the leadership of a totalitarian-style warren.
The Black Cat (Edgar Allan Poe, 1843)
Similar to The Tell-Tale Heart, where killing someone because their glass eye got to you sometimes seemed like an overreaction, The Black Cat‘s narrator is bitten one night by his wife’s cat, Pluto, and therefore decides to act rationally and gouge one of the poor cat’s eyes out with a penknife.
Following this shitty thing he’s done, every time the narrator looks at the cat – who’s now naturally terrified of him – he feels remorse, so he decides to be super rational again and murder the cat. Then big surprise he starts to feel even more ravaged by guilt, so he brings another cat home for his wife and see’s his being nice to the new cat as some kind of atonement.
Then, I shit you not, he get’s angry at this cat because it reminds the narrator still of Pluto, and in an attempt to kill the cat with an axe he accidentally kills his wife (it’s really hard to feel sorry for this guy).
Anyway to cut a long story short, he entombs his wife behind a brick-wall in the basement, and just when he thinks he’s gotten away with it the police hear a cat meowing behind the brick-wall and find Pluto alive standing on the head of his dead wife’s corpse. Pluto somehow came back to life to grass on him and it feels great that karma has weirdly been served.