Friday High Five: Catton’s Reading Grant, Right-Wing Dystopias

Eleanor Catton offers grant for writers to read

Writers often say that their best advice for wannabes is to read, voraciously. Booker Prize-winning author Eleanor Catton has literally put her money where her mouth is. She’s putting the money from her latest prize win (the New Zealand Post Best Fiction and People’s Choice awards, totalling $15,000) where her mouth is, establishing a grant, of $3000 each, that will give writers the time to read. ‘Writers are readers first; indeed our love of reading is what unites us above all else.’

Turning poison into trash

How do you neutralise chemical weapons? Wired has the lowdown on a new technology that can digest and neutralise lethal material, which can then be packed into shipping containers for transport anywhere.

Is dystopian fiction right-wing indoctrination?

In the Guardian this week, Ewan Morrison has suggested that YA dystopian fiction/film like The Giver, and the Hunger Games and Divergent series, are sneakily advocating capitalism. He says they are, ‘whether intentionally or not, substantial attacks on many of the foundational projects and aims of the left: big government, the welfare state, progress, social planning and equality.’.

On Daily Review, our own Jeff Sparrow, editor of Overland, offers a counter-argument: ‘It’s not the dystopias that have changed so much as the world — and the attitudes of so-called progressives.’

What are literary magazines for?

It’s the sixtieth anniversary of Overland this year. The journal has asked a handful of Australian magazine editors to comment on what their publication is for - and why they produce it. And over at Meanjin (which turns 75 next year), editor Zora Sanders is in reflective mode, too. ‘All new literary magazines are founded with just such a mix of passion and naivety. No editor would undertake the task if they didn’t feel utterly compelled, nor if they truly understood what they were getting themselves into,’ says editor Zora Sanders.

Memoir, deliberate lies and fabulous dresses

Lorelei Vashti writes about memoir and the ‘deliberate lies’ it inevitably tells over at the Readings blog, reflecting on the process of writing her book Dress Memory. ‘This book is a coming-of-age story and an exploration of clothing set during one decade of my life, but if I’d written a memoir based on the vicissitudes of being a lifelong Winona Ryder fan (and what a compelling and heart wrenching tale that would be) I’d have used different stories from my life to service that particular narrative.’

Lorelei Vashti. Image from *Dress Memory*.

Lorelei Vashti. Image from Dress Memory.