Friday Faves: Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones

…In which I invite someone bookish to share one of their all-time favourite works of fiction and why it’s so special to them. This week’s Friday Fave comes from writer, blogger and bookseller Emily Paull:

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Books have always been a large part of my life.  Even at times when I didn’t feel like I had human friends, I found some comfort between the pages of my favourite novels; from Little Women which I read once a year since I discovered a faded blue hard-back copy at my grandmother’s beach house, to Harry Potter, which my friends and I discuss near constantly to the exclusion of other topics.  Some of my proudest moments have related to books.  These were moments where I felt truly sure of myself, like the day that a boy I liked (but I was also scared of) caught me walking around the school grounds with a nose in a book and asked me how many books I could read in a week, and I said “Seven.”  This was a blatant lie, and the walking and reading thing was an attempt to show off if I’m really honest, but I still remember the way his eyebrows shot up into his hairline.  He may still be trying to drag his jaw off the floor.  That’s right kids:  reading is sexy.

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For me, I know I’ve found a life-altering, game-changing book when I want to stay up well past “bedtime” to keep reading it.  I have a rather healthy respect for sleep and come ten or eleven each night I obey the requests of my drooping eyelids and retire.  That is, until the night that I first read Jasper Jones.  I could not put that book down.  I now know the meaning behind calling a book spellbinding, because I was flicking those pages like a madwoman, trying desperately to work out just how Craig Silvey had done what he’d done.  It was just sheer talent.  It felt like he was writing to me through the page.

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When bookish Charlie Bucktin is awoken by the town firebrand, the eponymous Jasper Jones, adventure ensues.  Jasper has stumbled across the body of a town girl named Laura Wishart (sister of Charlie’s Audrey-Hepburn-esque crush) hanging from a tree.  He’s in trouble, even though he didn’t do it.  He and Charlie have to work out who the real killer is before it’s too late.

This is a very simplistic summary, as anyone who has read the book can tell you, but I don’t want to give too much away, because reading Jasper Jones is something of an experience.  I love this book so much that I devoted the last year of my life writing a thesis on it, and an extended short story in homage to it.  I negotiated countless bookstores in Barcelona, trying to mime what I wanted until I found a copy in Spanish.  (I wanted Catalan, but there was no Catalan translation.  I don’t speak either Spanish OR Catalan, so I suppose it doesn’t really matter.)  I carried my book through the longest line imaginable at the writer’s festival in 2010 in order to, blushing and babbling, get that book autographed.  I’ve read it so many times now that the covers have started to feel soft.  I think if I want to read it again I may need to buy another copy.  That’s true love, folks.

Emily Paull is a bookseller by day and a writer by night. She has made it her goal to save the print book industry single handed, which is why all her shelves are overflowing. She also loves cheesecake rather a lot. Read her ramblings.

Your turn: Do you love Jasper Jones as much as Emily? (I do). Do you agree that ‘reading is sexy’? Or have you ever lied about what/how much you read in order to impress someone?

Want more? 

Lynne Leonardt on AS Byatt’s Possession

Craig Silvey at Beaufort Street Books

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Friday Faves  Craig Silvey s Jasper Jones   ANNABEL SMITH

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