Attic Whispers and Hooked on Classics [February 2020 Edition]


Greetings from my attic in the Blue Mountains!

And then the rains came …What a difference a few weeks can make! Most of the dreadful fires on the east coast of Australia have been extinguished, and after several months of fighting monster blazes, the firefighters can finally take a much deserved rest. The dams are filling up, the waterfalls are cascading again, and the long road to recovery has begun.

Unfortunately, however, the long overdue monsoon rains coming down from the tropics in the north have been so severe, that we now have extensive flooding in many areas, bringing hardship of a different kind. Whole townships are flooded and entire districts are under water. Australia is a harsh country, but we are a resilient people who know how to pull together and help each other. We’ll get through these difficult times, and will emerge stronger than ever.

Many of you have sent me messages of support during the bushfire crisis up here in the Blue Mountains. Needless to say, such messages were greatly appreciated at the time and meant a lot. As so many of you have written to me, I have not been able to reply to you all. That doesn’t mean of course that I haven’t read or appreciated all of your kind thoughts.

I have, and that’s why I have decided to make all of you collectively who have extended a hand of friendship during a time when it mattered most, my Readers of the Month!

To all of you who have sent me such wonderful messages of support and encouragement during the dreadful bushfire crises up here in the Blue Mountains, a big THANK YOU!’ It’s friends like you, who make it all worthwhile.

You are my Readers of the Month, and I salute you.

As I have mentioned in my last newsletter, now that the crisis has passed, we will return to our usual format which will include such popular segments as Hooked on ClassicsCrime of the Month, and Hooked on Travel.
I will begin with Hooked on Travel, because it is in fact relevant right now.

Destination Tasmania

In order to recharge the creative spirit and clear out the cobwebs of stress and tension left over from the fires that have raged around us up here for weeks, I have decided to take some time off, leave the attic and writing behind, and embark on something exciting:  a 10 day walking adventure through Tasmania. And you know what? You are coming with me!
Tasmania is an island of great beauty and spectacular scenery, just a short flight south of Sydney. As you know, I do a lot of hiking in many parts of the world, but Tasmania is definitely a favourite. Over the years, I have completed several iconic walks there like the legendary Overland , and the Freycinet Peninsular Walk on the east coast.
This year, you will come along with me to experience the new Three Capes Walk near Port Arthur, followed by the Maria Island Walk, both on the east coast with all its convict history and breathtaking scenery. So, exciting times ahead. Please keep an eye on my Facebook page at  as I will try to post photos and stories whenever we are within internet range.

This month, I would like to talk to you about a literary giant and great favourite on mine: Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961)

As an American journalist, novelist short-story writer, sportsman and adventurer, Ernest Hemingway influenced 20th century fiction like no other, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.  His distinctive, economical and understated writing style in many ways broke with tradition, and was one of the main reasons for his huge popularity and success, and why he has entered the pantheon of American classics next to such immortals as Mark Twain, Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck and Harper Lee, just to mention a few.
For me, among his many books, one stands out: For Whom the Bell Tolls, based on his experience as a journalist during the Spanish Civil War.
Hemingway wrote the book mainly in Havana, Cuba. It features Robert Jordan, an American volunteer, assigned to a Republican guerrilla unit to blow up a bridge near Segovia. Published in 1940, the book was a huge success and sold more than half a million copies within months, became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and made Hemingway a household name.
Another favourite of mine is The Old Man and the Sea, a masterpiece published in 1952 just before Hemingway went on safari in Africa and was almost killed in two near-fatal plane crashes and sustained injuries that plagued him for the rest of his life.
In 1954, Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Because of his injuries, he was unable to attend the award ceremony in Stockholm, and sent a speech instead. To me, this speech more than any other piece written on the subject, epitomises the life of a writer:
‘Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.’
Sadly, Hemingway took his own life in the early hours of July 2, 1961. He shot himself with his favourite shotgun he used to take on safari, and I can’t help wondering, if the loneliness of the writer expressed so eloquently above, on top of his injuries and constant pain, have not been a major contributor to this tragedy.
In order to keep our newsletters at a manageable length, I have decided to feature our Crime of the Month segment every other month, and do the same with Hooked on Classics. That way, it is possible to pay a little more attention to each segment without making the newsletter too long.

Crime of the Month will therefore feature in March, and you are in for something incredibly fascinating: One of America’s most brutal and culturally enduring crimes in US history. The Time magazine listed it as one of the most infamous unsolved cases in the world. But that’s for next time, so please don’t forget to open your emails.

Finally, my friends, just another little reminder about the FREE Starter Library which can be downloaded right now by visiting my website and following the prompts.



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