What We’re Reading

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on or the music we’re loving.


Amy is reading American Savage

Dangerous ideas are my favourite kind of ideas - any conversation starter that begins with the disclaimer ‘this might sound kind of bad/offensive/crazy, but…’ is usually something I want to know about. Which is why I jumped on tickets to a festival that Dan Savage was going to be speaking at!

Dan Savage is the host of the sex and relationship advice podcast Savage Love and the author of a number of books, including his latest, American Savage. I’ve listened to Dan’s podcast for years (and what an education that’s been!), but I’ve not read any of his books yet. My partner and I waited excitedly in line to have our copy of American Savage signed after listening to Dan’s hilarious, controversial, entertaining, frank, and dreamily articulate ideas about relationships, love, sex, marriage, monogamy and personal trainers. I can’t wait to start reading!

But I have a dilemma – do I begin with Dan’s dangerous ideas, or should I start reading about the new face of contemporary gender politics in Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men: and the Rise of Women? I left Hanna Rosin’s session at the festival with a big, dumb, inspired grin on my face, full of hope because I realized that real, cultural critique and research is being done, talked about, published, publicized, presented and attended to by a crowd big enough to fill the Princess Theatre, at least.

Perhaps, though, I’ll take a break from reading and instead take to the couch to watch five seasons of HBO series The Wire, created by David Simon. The series is based on Simon’s book Homicide: a year on the killing streets, about his time as a journalist embedded with the Baltimore police. Simon talked about The Wire as a means to work through what he sees are the major problems with the American political and economic system. Even though Simon painted a pretty grim picture of the current state of affairs, it was nevertheless heartening to know that, whether we’re reading about our culture or watching a television show about one facet of it, these dangerous ideas are out there, and there are people willing to talk about them and to listen.

Tara is listening to The Big Dream

David Lynch’s sublime cinema captured my imagination and ignited my deepest fears many moons ago, but I’ve only just begun listening to his auto tuned tones on my way to work. Carefully crafted to give great aural affect, The Big Dream offers the same eerie undercurrent as his films. More melancholic than abrasive, each track flows almost seamlessly into the next as you embark upon a mediative journey into the unconscious. The lyrics are provocative, curious and above all humorous.

This is David Lynch at the top of his game and an album that equates to an unforgettable experience.

Bronte is watching Scandal

A few weeks ago I read Nina’s post on the best female leads currently on TV and was inspired to watch Scandal, starring Kerry Washington as former White House Communications Director, professional fixer and fashionista.

Created by Shonda Rhimes (of Grey’s Anatomy fame which should give you some idea where the show’s heading, though Scandal’s tone is decidedly less girly than the former), the show takes place in Washington, D.C. and focuses on Olivia’s crisis management firm, Pope & Associates. I’m still not really sure how to sum up what the firm does - they’re lawyers / detectives / computer hackers / self-described ‘gladiators’ and every staff member is someone Olivia has ‘done a fix for’, instilling in them intense loyalty to their leader. There’s this creepily addictive cult-like feel to their interactions, somewhat akin to what I imagine warriors may have felt going into battle. (If you ever did watch Grey’s you might remember their use of the phrase ‘we’re his people’, ‘you’re my person’ ‘we’re in this together… people’ and etc. This is taken to a whole other level with Scandal and I’ve got to admit, I’m a fan.)

Given Olivia’s connection with the White House - both professionally and personally (Unsuitable Romance Alert!) - the show also covers the going ons at the White House, everything from family dramas to shady political dealings, from sexy sex to murder.

Yet, despite the rave it’s getting in the US, and the local love for its inferior compadre Revenge, Scandal has not taken off in Australia - yet. Andrew Murfett queries the reason for this on Junkee and aptly calls the show ‘a frothy guilty pleasure’. I heartily agree - it’s fast-paced melodrama with a basis in important issues, and a whole lot of fun to watch.