29 May 2009

Liar Liar, Pants on Fire!

Justine Larbalestier's brilliant new book is called Liar.*

When the reading copies landed there were rumours of a productivity lapse in the Mothership...










The main character of Liar is, well... , she's a liar, and recently Justine's been blogging about lying and surveying her readers about their lying habits.

So, in the spirit of confession to lies of misdeeds past - we surveyed the Onions to find out when they may have been a little cavalier with the truth in literary matters. And we were well-rewarded:

1. In response to the librarian's question, I told my grade 5 class that Island of the Blue Dolphins was my favourite book, even though I had NEVER READ IT, because the four girls who answered before me all said it was their favourite. I was (still am?) consumed by guilt - as if I'd betrayed all those books that I really and truly did love. This guilt was only partly assuaged by the fact that I then immediately read Island of the Blue Dolphins - and discovered that I did, in fact, love it.

2. I have never read The Gruffalo.

3. I wrote my Year 11 essay on Pride & Prejudice having only read to p 27 (because it bored me). I tried reading it again in the summer after Year 12 - and couldn't put it down. I have since read it many times - I remain mystified about how I could possibly find it boring. PS. I got an A for the essay.

4. When younger than I am now, I pretentiously went on about how great Anna Karenina was, when I'd failed to ever read beyond the bit where Vronsky and Anna get together, and had only ever watched the BBC series in its entirety. In fact, to this day I keep putting AK aside for novels that don't hurt my arms to hold up in bed, even after seeking out the fancy new translation with the cover of flowers wilting on breasts.

5. I wrote my essay on The Old Man and the Sea after watching the movie - and I still haven't read the book.

6. I was in grade 5 and somehow lost the book I had borrowed from the mobile library (a bus that visited the school once a week or so like the bus the Queen discovered outside the Palace grounds in The Uncommon Reader). Rather than leave the classroom with the keen reading pupils, I stayed back with the unreading rest for fear of being struck down if I stepped into the book-lined bus. So each week I burned with shame and fear until at the end of the year a bill was sent to my parents!

7. On more than one occasion, I have given the impression that I have read Phillip Pullman. It's not true. I haven't.

8. The books I have lied about having read are too numerous to mention!

9. I liked Angie Sage's Magyk more than Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. (There - I've said it... and lightning hasn't struck. Hmmmmm....)

10. Between the ages of 18 - 23 I pretended to have read Ulysses by James Joyce... I would wax lyrical and nod sagely, when in fact all my knowledge about the book could only be attributed to a very long night of drinking with a friend who happened to be writing her honours thesis on Joyce. I picked her brains relentlessly and was spared the trauma of actually reading it myself for five years. At 23 I came clean, and have been trying to finish the damn thing ever since.

11. Pride and Prejudice (and in fact Jane Austen books generally) gets on my nerves, and always has. I suspect there might be something wrong with me.

12. In grade 3, I discovered a wonderful, wonderful book in my local library called No Flying in the House by Betty Brock, which I promptly stole. It still sits, in beloved, dog-eared glory, on my bookshelves today.


So, how 'bout you? Any literary indiscretions to own up to: lies? hoaxes? omissions?


* Liar is out in the world in October, so it's a little bit of a wait, but it will be worth it. Trust me.

12 comments:

Greg G said...

Have you read this?
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/books/review/McInerney-t.html

...

...have you really?

Natalie Hatch said...

I found a girls library card when I was 11 and used it to hire out Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising, and I think I lost the book.

Natalie Hatch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah said...

My most consistent literary lie:

'No, of course I didn't read your birthday present before giving it to you.'

Misrule said...

If you've got so many bloody reading copies, why didn't you let me pinch one the other day? Hmmm?!

And now you want me to confess my multitude of literary untruths. Ha. Like I'd tell YOU I've never read "The Mouse and His Child", and that it was ME spilled mulberry juice all over the Berala Public Library copy of What Katy Did. Humph.

Celine said...

I knowingly stole 'Little Grey Men' from my primary school library. Many years later ( when in my late twenties) I tried to return it. I was very sad to find that my beloved school had been closed down! ( but also very relieved because I love that book, and I really didn't want to give it back.)

Phew - my conscience is cleansed.

The Alien Onions said...

Greg, We may not have read that book - but it seems we have published it!
http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=94&book=9781847080561

Must order copy to facilitate further literary obfuscation.

Natalie, At least you recognised that the library card was a valuable item, and used it for the good.

Sarah, Better to give a gift that you have read and loved than to never have read at all.

Misrule, The Liar reading copies landed in the Sydney Office, and we had to wrangle to get them sent south - and now they are like hen's teeth. Though they are much more in demand than any hen's teeth we have encountered.

Celine, We are pleased to be able to facilitate your cleansing.

- Onions

Mike said...

I no longer like Tim Winton's books (the first three were fine) and can therefore not show my face in Western Australia.

What Kate did next ... said...

I preferred "The Riders" to "Cloudstreet." In fact I didn't really enjoy "Cloudstreet" much.

(Hides face in hands in shame. Am I still allowed to be an Aussie?)

Ariel said...

Ohhh, I LOVED No Flying in the House and read it obsessively.

Um, while working at a highbrow literary establishment, in a corridor conversation about what people read on trains, I nodded and pursed my lips with everyone else when they tut-tutted about people reading trashy magazines when they could be reading books, even though I had one in my bag that I'd picked up in the corner deli on the way to the train that morning.

Usually, I really truly do read books on trains.

FrostyL said...

When studying for the first year of a degree in English Lit at UNSW, I only read one of the set texts, being rather more inclined to read whatever I felt like reading. It was The Invisible Man, and I found it for $1 in a second-hand store. Turned out that my one legitimate read for the year was, in fact, the wrong Invisible Man. I did wonder why they had set a YA book about a disappearing boy as part of the American Modern Classics course work...I failed to 'fess up, and managed to bluff my way through several tense tutorials. Failed with flying colours.

Libby said...

I wrote a mini book report on Treasure Island despite only having seen Muppet Treasure Island. And the Wishbone.