Howl’s Moving Castle – the novel

It was only a few years ago that I discovered that Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Howl’s Moving Castle was based on Dianna Wynne Jones’ novel of the same name. Given how much I enjoy the film I am almost ashamed that it took so long for me to get to the book—and to discover there were a further two in the series! So three days ago I finally found myself a copy and settled in for what I fully expected to be a great read. I was not disappointed.

There are some children’s books which you can come back to and enjoy at any age and there are quite a few you cannot. Thankfully Howl’s Moving Castle is one of the former. From the very first words I was spellbound by the novel’s fairy tale quality, by the third chapter I was buying an extra copy for my nieces and nephews, and by the tenth chapter I was so unwilling to put it down I read more than half of it in one sitting.

The story, for those that are unfamiliar with it, follows the journey of Sophie Hatter after her father’s death. Left in her step-mother’s care and full of self-degradation for being the eldest (the eldest can never do a thing right), Sophie trims the most exquisite hats, drawing the attention of the dreaded Witch of the Waste who curses Sophie with old age. Meanwhile, Wizard Howl is on the prowl for more young women’s hearts to eat—chased by a scarecrow, at a loss for what to do, and believing herself safe from the evil wizard, Sophie finds herself at Howl’s house. Despite her expectations, the house is not filled with the hearts of the women Howl terrorised, but his young apprentice, Michael, fire-demon-friend, Calcifer, and plenty of spiders. Having been forced against her will to seek her fortune and expecting only misfortune to come of it, Sophie settles in nicely in the castle, slowly discovering her talent for witchcraft and speaking things to life.

Jam packed with wonder, the novel is fairly short and quite accessible to young readers as well as being enjoyable for adults. I have yet to read any others in the series but am eagerly awaiting their arrival. I would highly recommend the novel, Sophie’s practical voice rationalises any fear the reader may have about the Witch of the Waste, Howl, and the scarecrow.


Words by Kayla Gaskell.

kaylaKayla Gaskell is an Adelaide based writer and reviewer whose work has appeared in Empire Times, Readplus, Buzzcuts, Where’s Pluto, and now Tulpa. A self-professed bibliophile, she has a pressing problem: she’s running out of bookshelves.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (A New Year Suggestion)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is undeniably one of the greatest video games ever created. First released on the Nintendo 64 (N64) in 1998, it was developed and published by Nintendo and was the first 3D entry in The Legend of Zelda series. Now, twenty years later, I wish to celebrate this title by discussing it and how it inspired me to become a writer.

Ocarina of Time was a ground-breaking title at the time of its release. It was one of the first open world games where a player could ride a horse, explore secrets, and participate in side-quests. Its main quest, however, is the real prize. Players take Link, the playable protagonist, through numerous dungeons, each one unique to its region, travel through time between the present and future, all as part of the epic quest to saving Zelda, Princess of Hyrule, from the hands of Ganon.

My introduction to this game came sometime in the late 1990s-early 2000s. The N64 was the family game console and my parents had bought the game cheap from Blockbuster. I spent countless hours of my childhood exploring the world of Hyrule, attempting to rescue Princess Zelda, all the while going fishing and looking for secret caves. For a younger me, its wide-open world, engaging narrative, and many secrets were what kept making me return to it and what kept inspiring me.

Ocarina of Time started the fire that made me want to be a writer. Some of my earliest fiction works were fanfictions of the game, all of which containing my own unique, original spin on the game. I had even started to imagine my own versions of Hyrule, each one with a unique storyline and style.

There was one aspect of the game though that really fuelled my growing imagination: a group of enemies called ReDeads. ReDeads are zombies that are nothing more than skeletal beings with browned skin, a mask-like face, and the power to paralyse and suck the life from Link. Hearing their low-pitched moans in a dungeon always made my hairs stand on end and frightened me enough sometimes not progress any further. The terror of them continued beyond the game, into my nightmares. It’s in my mind that they were suddenly more frightening and powerful, a trope which later made me fall in love with zombies and the horror genre.

Although aged in contrast to its successors in the series, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is still a fantastic game. It’s the game that inspired me to be a writer and fall in love with hideous creatures of the night. Its narrative and storytelling still remain engaging 20 years on and hopefully will continue to inspire people to become writers for years to come.

For anyone who’s interested in video game writing, wanting to play an inspiring game, or just want to play a great game for 2018, then go play Ocarina of Time. If you want an updated experience of this game which is gorgeous to look at and play, pick up the remake of the game on Nintendo 3DS. If you want that same experience I had, but on a modern console, it’s available on Wii U Virtual Console for about $15AUD. If you have neither a Wii U nor 3DS, you can pick up the original N64 cartridge, or the special edition of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker on Nintendo GameCube where it’s an extra disc. These options may be more expensive due to their age and increasing rarity.


Words by Cameron Lowe.

CRUSH- Stories about love

Confession: I do not often read romance but when I do I usually enjoy it.

Crush is an anthology of romance stories which centres around the concept of the word ‘Crush’. The term itself has multiple definitions, these definitions are used to divide the book into four distinct sections:

  1. An intense infatuation
  2. To cease or crumple by pressure
  3. To hug or embrace tightly
  4. A crowd of people pressed together.

In each of these sections are stories which explore the ideas of each definition. In doing this, the reader can choose a story more suited to what they feel like reading at the time.

There is a stigma surrounding romance fiction, which claims it has little to no literary merit. It’s usually dismissed as ‘chick-lit’. The stories collected in Crush demonstrate a wide range of writing styles and genres blended with romance. There is fiction which is clearly for everyone, for the LGBTQ+ community, for people who like experimental writing, and for those who prefer the literary variety. There is a diversity to this anthology which brokers an appeal to a wide audience. Romance is a part of almost everyone’s lives to some degree or another. When it comes to real life we don’t dismiss it. You don’t have to be a certain age or gender to experience it, just as you don’t have to be a certain age or gender to enjoy romance fiction, and you certainly don’t have to be ashamed of showing your support for the local, emerging artists who have contributed to this book.

Crush brings together a variety of talented writers who are both local and international. Quite a few Flinders current and past students are also featured in the anthology. Recent Hons. Graduate Simone Corletto and PhD Candidate Jess M. Miller worked with Amy T. Matthews (chair of the 2016 ‘Ain’t Love Grand’ conference in Adelaide), and Midnight Sun’s Lynette Washington to compile and edit the book. With a wide range of both local and international contributors, Crush is a must read for anyone involved in the Adelaide writing community.

With stories that verge on traditional, literary, and experimental, Crush has something to appeal to everyone. Women loving women, women loving men, men loving women, and men loving men. Relationships beginning and relationships ending. Good dates and bad dates. A wide variety of experiences tied together by the central exploration of love.

I’m not going to try and pick a favourite story in the anthology because they are all fantastic in their own way. Full of passion and wit, they offer both warmth and scepticism where it’s needed most.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, love forms a big part of our lives. The writers of Crush have interrogated this in their stories. We see people just like you and me fumbling through life searching for the thing that will make them feel valid and loved.

This is a potentially perfect book for those of you looking to escape into the world of fiction without the hassle of committing to a full novel. While romance is not normally my cup of tea, Crush provides something for everyone so why pick up a local anthology and read the both online and from local retailers.

As a special treat, selected authors will be sharing their work at The Jade on Thursday 16th November. Come along to The Jade, 142-160 Flinders Street, for a chance to meet Michelle Fairbarn, J. R. Koop, Michelle Oglivy, and C.J. McLean, hear them read, and show your support for local writers.


Words by Kayla Gaskell

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Crush is available in stores now. At the special reading event at The Jade on the 16th of November copies of Crush will be available for the special price of $25. For more information check the Facebook page.

 

 

Best of the Best: Modern Australian Short Stories

This powerful book encompassing 25 short stories written by the crème de la crème of Australian literary talent is worth a visit. The editor, Barry Oakley, was the literary editor of the Australian Newspaper between 1988 and 1997. Barry Oakley is a prolific Australian playwright, novelist and short story writer, and by-the-by was encouraged by the publishers to include his own futuristic dystopian peace at the tail end of this impressive body of writing.

 

Mr Oakley handpicked these 25 stories from a list of over 167 short stories he edited for Five Mile Press volumes. Most of these stories were written in the decade leading up to 2009, while his selection was based on the writers’ abilities to ‘replace our world with theirs’. Therefore, he avoids what Patrick White terms the ‘dreary, dun-coloured offspring of journalistic realism’ often encountered in shorter, year-specific collections. The result is a confluence of compelling dramas, magic realisms, and teased-out situations.

 

The Australian short story has long been linked to Australia’s isolated geography. This trend continues: coping with fears, grief and sudden change are certain features of this geography.

 

Mr Oakley has grouped the short stories under themes to assist the reader’s appreciation: Childhoods: a place where innocence is threatened; Fabulations: see myths and magic merge; Impositions: where difficulties are encountered; Letting Go: when strings are cut or should be; On the Margins: out of town; Desperations: when crimes are committed; Resolutions: in one’s family. Threads of racism, violence, multiculturalism, horror, and so forth, are equally stitched.

 

Matthew Condon’s The Sandfly Man is a story about the ghostly spirit of a caravan park that haunts a young boy: ‘If I closed my eyes I could see the Sandfly Man, coming for me through that swirling mist, moving slowly forward, his boots crunching on the dirt laneways.’ David Malouf’s Blacksoil Country examines a terrible chain reaction set off between two cultures: ‘The whole country had a new light over it. I had to look at it in a new way. What I saw in it now was hiding-places.’ Julie Gittus’s Driving the Inland Road shows relationships fraying on a bush-block in paradise: ‘At Gunnedah my headlights shine on a billboard beside a stone church. Have faith. He loves you. But I keep driving south into the night.’

 

Cate Kennedy’s Habit is about an elderly woman who attempts to pass through Customs with cocaine in tow. Carmel Bird’s The Hair and The Teeth tells of the emotional toll carried by a woman whose house was burgled. Tim Winton’s Commission begins when a son goes in search of his father at his mother’s request in the West Australian outback.

 

A majority of the stories’ POVs are written in the first person, some in the third person. Most of the plots tend to follow the traditional linear path, with or without flashbacks, with about a third circling the main issue. One jumbles its timeframes.

 

The themes in these stories should appeal to a wide variety of readers. They satisfy my personal tastes. There are an equal number of male and female characters albeit a slight majority of POVs are male-centric. Each story feels like an emotional canvas: when you least expect it, the porcelain breaks. It never once felt like any two stories covered the same ground. I give this collection 4.5 stars out of 5 stars. Worth reading with tea and chocolates.


Best of the Best: Modern Australian Short Stories

Edited by Barry Oakley

Stories from Tim Winton, David Malouf, Thea Astley, Cate Kennedy, Peter Goldsworthy, Margo Lanagan, and Others

RRP: A$24.95

ISBN 9781742117454 (pbk.)

320 pages

Printed 2009, 1st Edition, Five Mile Press, Victoria


Words by Dane Miller.

Dane Miller is an established writer and poet from South Australia.

Loving Vincent

Every frame of Loving Vincent is hand painted, making this film truly unique and visually stunning. The entire film comprises of some 65,000 frames, each hand painted by one of 125 painters. The pay-off is massive, with every individual scene appearing as lifelike as possible while also surreal. The accompanying music, by Clint Mansell, only adds to the overall effect of the film. The soundtrack is truly stunning and perfectly attuned to the tone of each scene. This film is definitely an experience, a feast of both audio and visual delicacy. But Loving Vincent isn’t a wonderful film solely because of its artistic beauty. Its story is intimate, heartfelt, and deeply engaging.

Set a year after the death of artist Vincent van Gogh, this film explores Vincent’s life and death through the people who knew him. We see all of these individual stories unfold through the eyes of Armand Roulin, the son of postman Joseph Roulin. Tasked with delivering one of Vincent’s letters to his younger brother Theo van Gogh, Armand finds himself becoming more and more intrigued by the artist’s death. The end result is an engaging story that challenges the viewer to look at van Gogh through the perspectives of several very different individuals, all of whom viewed him in manners both flattering and damning.

What makes this story truly stunning is that the characters we meet along the way, as well as Armand himself, are all people Vincent van Gogh painted during his lifetime. With an incredible attention to detail, the film recreates famous paintings and reveals each character as they appeared in portraits by the artist. These characters all work together to create an intimate portrait of van Gogh, each of their stories giving the viewer a deeper understanding of the artist, his work, and his humanity.

Although this film covers a lot of dark subject matter, it treats its characters with respect and tenderness. While it would have been easy to portray van Gogh as deeply disturbed and suicidal, this film tries to dig beneath the surface of van Gogh’s infamous struggle with mental illness. What emerges is a more complex character of a man who felt deeply about the world around him, the effects of this feeling leading him to both despair and joy. Too often popular culture treats issues of mental illness with an overly simplistic attitude of pity or disgust, but this film does neither. Instead, it makes the viewer sympathetic to the very human suffering of van Gogh while also showing him existing beyond his illness.

You don’t need to be a lover of art history to appreciate this film. It has so much to offer in terms of its beauty, its heartfelt story and its complex and loveable characters. More than anything, it’s a film that challenges the viewer to think about the stories we tell about people and how they can act to create differing portraits. Vincent van Gogh is an artist whose life is still the subject of discussion. Was he a madman? A genius? A lonely depressed man? Or someone who lived for the beauty in the everyday world around him? This film asks you to consider just who Vincent van Gogh was and, ultimately, what his life can teach each of us about our own.

 


Words by Lisandra Linde

Lisandra Linde is an editor, writer and Hons. student. She is currently working on her thesis on women’s writing and mental illness at Flinders University. She can often be found performing at spoken word events around Adelaide. You can follow her on Twitter @KrestianLullaby.

Thor: Ragnarok

In Thor: Ragnarok, the third and final instalment of the franchise, we meet Thor (Chris Hemsworth) at the tail end of an intergalactic quest to stop Ragnarok and the subsequent destruction of Asgard. But it’s not long before a new villain emerges in the form of Thor’s banished sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett) the goddess of death, who quickly makes her way to Asgard to plot her conquest of the universe and generally wreak havoc. These events find Thor hammerless and stranded on a junkyard planet ruled by the half-tyrant, half-gameshow host Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and launches the film into a wonderfully colourful sci-fi adventure.

This film is unabashedly fun. It’s refreshing to see a superhero movie with such a sincere sense of humour and it’s not hard to see the influence of director Taika Waititi, well-known for independent comedies like What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016). No one is exempt from this comedic touch—even the sombre Odin (Anthony Hopkins) has some great lines (‘Are you the god of hammers?’ he asks Thor at one point.) Waititi himself shines as Korg, an alien made of rock whose attempt at revolution was thwarted by a shortage of pamphlets. Even in the relatively minor role of Topaz, the Grandmaster’s right-hand-woman, Rachel House gives a wonderful comedic performance and delivers a reference to The Castle that many Australian fans are sure to enjoy. All of the cast give solid performances and, vitally important for a comedy, they clearly have a lot of fun while doing it.

While many of Marvel’s offerings have been fairly serious action flicks with a smattering of jokes dropped in at the last minute, Thor: Ragnarok is almost the polar opposite. Yet the humour is never hammy or parodic—it’s balanced well with a number of beautifully shot and, put simply, cool action sequences. There is of course the hotly anticipated battle between Thor and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) that’s been featured in the trailers, but some of the best moments come from scrapper, drunkard and former elite Asgardian warrior, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).

The vibrant cinematography combines with a nostalgic soundtrack of 70s and 80s synths and rock to create some truly awe-inspiring moments. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the image of Thor facing off against a tower of undead enemies while Led Zepplin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ roars through the cinema speakers.

With delightful humour and seriously cool action, Thor: Ragnarok is a movie that knows exactly what it is and revels in it.


Words by Justina Ashman

The Hearth: Of the Night

In the last few years the creative writing community has retaken the night with a range of creative reading and poetry events popping up all around Adelaide. The Hearth is one such event, run by Flinders University Alumni Melanie Pryor, Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, and Emma Maguire.

Words by Kayla Gaskell

In the last few years the creative writing community has retaken the night with a range of creative reading and poetry events popping up all around Adelaide. The Hearth is one such event, run by Flinders University Alumni Melanie Pryor, Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, and Emma Maguire. Providing an outlet for creatives to share their work, The Hearth runs four themed events each year. The final event of 2017 was themed ‘Of the Night’, allowing several writers the opportunity to respond creatively to this theme.

The Jade has proven an excellent choice in venue with friendly staff and a stage for readers to present their work. While Thursday’s event was delayed due to another event having run before The Hearth, there was an excellent turn out of people wanting to support their writing community.

Readers for ‘Of the Night’ included: JV Birch, Marina Deller, Andy Lee, Lisandra Linde and Melanie Pryor.Music was provided by Dee Trawartha leading up to the readings, and between sets. The readers presented a mixture of poetry, personal essay, creative non-fiction, and fiction all with the common theme of ‘night’. This diversity in creative writing was excellent to see and kept the audience engaged throughout.

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The Hearth Collective: Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, Emma Maguire and Melanie Pryor, Photo: Brendan Davies

Lisandra Linde was the first reader; a creative writing honours student at Flinders University with a background in forensic archaeology. Lisandra presented a creative non-fiction piece dealing with her thoughts about her own mortality and her first experience confronted with death—encountering a corpse in her previous field of study.

Andy Lee, an environment student at Flinders, shared three of his poems, all written for performance. His work is heavy with naturalistic imagery and considers the world around him, how he views it, and how others view it. Drawing on his studies he is a able to bring in environmental concepts such as the twenty-ninth day in order to promote environmental awareness.

Marina Deller is one assignment away from finishing her degree and presented a moving personal essay about finding herself again after a terrible period in her life. Marina is a highly engaging speaker and held the audience captive as she spoke about her life experiences and how losing her friend and, shortly after, her mother changed her outlook on life.

 

Melanie Pryor, a PhD candidate, presented a piece crafted from three memories given to her in a previous project in 2013. These memories, together with some haunting music, inspired the story of a boy whose neighbour’s little girl disappeared. A captivating story, Melanie used the memories of people living with dementia and turned them into a story of her own.

JV Birch is a poet who moved to Adelaide from London five years ago. She claims to have the concentration span of a goldfish and says that is why her poetry is so short, although it seems more likely that she dislikes excessive verbiage. JV presented six short poems each revolving around the moon.

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Q&A Panel at the Hearth, Photo: Lauren Butterworth

The Hearth, as well as providing a place for writers to share their work, also invites audience engagement with a Q & A session following the readings. In the Q & A, the audience, as well as the presenters, are able to ask questions about the writing process and the pieces and ideas presented.

The Hearth was involved in the 2017 Adelaide Fringe Festival and has just announced their continued involvement in 2018. The theme for their next event, this coming March, is Masquerade, and they will soon be on the lookout for pitches.


For more information on The Hearth and upcoming events check out their Facebook page. Tulpa would like to thank The Hearth Collective for providing the photos used in this review. 

Photos by Lauren Butterworth and Brendan Davies

Review by Kayla Gaskell

 

Justin Townes Earle at The Crown and Anchor

Adelaideans have long lamented the number of international acts we miss out on from year to year. Not so with Justin Townes Earle, who not only includes our fine little town in his tour itinerary, but also plays intimate pub gigs instead of overpriced stadiums. Supported by local country rockers The Bitter Darlings, and fellow Southerner Joshua Hedley, Justin Townes Earle dropped by the Cranka for a mid-week special, backed up by the inimitable Paul Niehaus on lap steel and guitar.

Setting the tone for a soulful evening in the Cranka’s well-loved ballroom, front man for The Bitter Darlings, Marcello Cole, let his soul do the talking, embracing the crowd with his vocals, rough edged and rich. Bandmate Nicholas Cioffi provided a perfect counterpoint with his superb guitar work, winding intricate harmonies around lyrics that immortalise South Australian towns and highways. The duo dressed the part in cowboy shirts and boots, and left the punters dreaming of their next hit of Tex Perkins magnetism and Johnny Cash tenderness. Country rock and blues to the bone, these boys did Adelaide proud.

Joshua Hedley is Nashville through and through. He wears a big hat, a big belt buckle, and a big attitude. And he don’t take no mess, having to silence rude punters with good grace and humour not once but twice throughout his set. With a voice smoother than molasses and twice as sweet, the crowd were transported from our little pub to the Grand Ole Opry. Joshua Hedley is a prolific singer-songwriter, taking the opportunity to treat us to three songs he had written while staying in Adelaide, as well as a Willie Nelson cover, and the classic love song ‘Sweet Memories’. While the accent and the outfit saw quite a number of fans swooning – he even had crisp line pressed into the front of his trousers- what will stay with me is the craftsmanship of a country superstar on the rise. One to watch.

The main drawcard approached the stage through the crowd in his usual manner; humble, warm, understated. Justin Townes Earle wore triple denim and spectacles, unassuming as he approached the microphone. Sexy as hell and with a wicked sense of humour, Justin has always been a darling with Australian audiences. Treating us to no less than nineteen tunes, and peppering his set with anecdotes and the odd dirty joke, this gig was yet another triumph for the rebel kid made good. Standout songs included Townes Earle’s tribute to Billie Holiday, ‘White Gardenias’, and crowd favourite, ‘Mama’s Eyes’, but the eclectic set also included a Paul Simon cover.

Played through the Cranka’s bass-loving stacks, Justin Townes Earle was in fine voice, while Paul Niehaus provided faultless support vocals and lap steel accompaniment. Vocal harmonies enriched Townes Earle’s ordinarily solitary compositions, and by the end of the set the punters were feeling sentimental and softly singing along. We filed into the cool spring twilight singing the ‘Harlem River Blues’. Adelaide may not draw all the big names, but I’d take a pub gig over a stadium any day. Where else can you share a joke with the headliner on the side of the road? A show like this promises to stay with you and keep you warm on lonely nights. Unforgettable.

Words by Heather McGinn.