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Nicholas Tamblyn is an author of both fiction and nonfiction. He was formerly a journalist, public policymaker, filmmaker, and researcher with an animal rights organization. His time based in Bangkok and Manila has also influenced the subjects of his writing. He lives just outside Melbourne, Australia, with his wife, author and illustrator Katherine Eglund. For the latest information, follow his blog and updates on social media.

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Latest Posts

Grieving the Death of a Near Stranger, Who Was Once a Friend

February 22, 2019
Most deaths we hear about must pass by like some remote thing – the latest sad news in the daily if now hourly round of it, a friend of a friend, and older people in loved ones’ extended circles for whom death has become expected, and yet when our own nearest loved ones die, at any age and in any condition, our natural grieving can be so close as to be near to suffocating. I was devastated to learn today of the death of an acquaintance – my former government colleague who, with her rare compassion as well as the sincere rapport of a fellow introvert, was also my friend – in her mid-thirties from bowel cancer. The thing is or was, I had not seen her for ten years, but had followed her journey through her online articles and blog and the occasional news stories they generated. She was, to take the line from The Killing of Georgie (adapting gender), “the kindest girl I ever knew” (before I met my wife). As her condition worsened throughout the past year, I drafted a couple of emails, saying, “We used to work near each other (as you well know – and we were even social on occasions now and then outside of the office!), and I’m so deeply sad about what you’re going through because you’re so incredibly kind, and it all is so totally unfair.” As time went by, the email got shorter, as I honed it to being less strangely out of the blue and, I hoped, gentler without offering fake hope at the most traumatic and last period of her life (the pain was, she wrote, at times barely endurable), and less focused on perhaps my own latent compulsion to analyse all earthly things through the lens of death (as I think they ought to be), and, looking down at so many new comments appearing on her Facebook posts, I knew that there were countless others saying what I was intending to say, and I put it off till after Christmas (a sad time for her), her birthday (a happy time for her), and then her most recent operation – but it turned out to be her last. I am filled with sadness at the situation, and know that she was loved and cared for by many others, who said everything that I had wanted to say and more and I am glad that they did so while she was alive. It is a death very separate to me, after so much time having passed from the years of our working acquaintance, and I was reluctant to create any strange feeling about my abrupt appearance after so much time (though her social media, and various passionate and heartbreakingly honest articles she wrote, aimed to bring greater awareness to bowel screening and better diet in aid of preventing bowel cancer, and ways to speak to cancer sufferers – which has genuinely struck home with me). “It’s chaos. Be kind,” says Patton Oswalt Read More

End of Year 2018 Top Ten Films

February 22, 2019
If we talk about moments that stay with us from films, the most memorable ones from the previous year (among the films I watched) would be the fatal jarring moment from “The Hate U Give,” the final shots of “Private Life” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” the sustained strangeness of lingering shots in “Burning,” and the moving story as well as the moving camera in “Roma.” As the new year arrived, I realised—given in part due to the care of our young son—there were several acclaimed films that I or we hadn’t got round to watching yet—including “Roma.” There are at least five honourable mentions, as well, that I can think of: “Searching,” which is an excellent use of the computer screen-only style, yet the twist (both my wife and I felt) had not really been foreshadowed and so came as a total shock (yet saying that, I still found the ending quite moving); also, “Leave No Trace,” which was well-made and had moments of interesting, almost random, eccentricity, but I felt remote from the cold choice at the ending; the critically lauded “A Star is Born,” which drifted to the acutely ugly strangeness of the closing awards show; “The Favourite,” and its unusual approach to history; and lastly “First Man,” whose ending I discovered was, as moving as it was in enlivening the cool figure of Neil Armstrong, hopeful artistic license rather than history. With another year gone by, writing this post got me thinking about scenes from older movies that just pop into my head—while we were having pancakes this morning it reminded me of all the times we ordered breakfast at a cafe near the hospital we visited for monthly checkups with our son in Bangkok, where one day an elderly American couple asked us if we knew where the nearest pharmacy was, saying with relief, “We heard you were speaking in English!” This reminded me of the moment in “Barry Lyndon” (perhaps Kubrick’s most underrated film in terms of a general viewer seeking it out among his films, if you leave off my favourite of his, “Paths of Glory”) where the Irishman overseas breaks down, even while undercover, at meeting his fellow countryman so far from home. Life is paved and seemingly consolidated in certain ways with these kinds of moments. Any kind of grief or thought of mortality reminds me of Vada and Thomas J. in “My Girl” and Emma Thompson’s (as well as others’) moving performance in “Wit,” or the haunting beauty of the ending of “Ikiru” (or stark conclusion of “Ashes and Diamonds”), and the moment Mr. Banks, accompanied by stirring music, walks to the bank knowing he will be fired in “Mary Poppins.” Whenever I think of philosophy, I’m afraid I don’t think of Kieślowski or Tarkovsky, but several poignant moments in “Groundhog Day.” My father told me that every time he shaves (which is to say every day), he think of lyrics from The Monkees. Like the parts and moments of Read More

Schrödinger Was A Physicist But Also A Father

October 26, 2018
Our baby son was stirring yet again in the next room, and again returned to silence; and this time I thought I would read about the personal life of Edwin Schrödinger. Sure enough, while he led an unorthodox life when it came to relationships (when he moved to Dublin it was, on obtaining the visas, with a ménage à trois), he formulated his most popularly famous thought experiment—the cat in the box paradox where he asked, “when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states and become one or the other?”—in 1935, the year after the birth of his daughter (albeit with an Austrian colleague’s wife). When your baby is in the crib in the next room, you are fairly sure everything is going fine, and yet the best way to be sure is to take a look, but then you might wake the baby—not causing the baby any real harm, but probably depriving them of further sleep and you (and perhaps even the neighbours) of rest. Rather than the poison and radioactivity of Schrödinger, all in their genetic makeup and everything in the world may be a potential threat to your newborn. The longer the nap, the greater the temptation you will have to look, or even to lean close and gently prod your baby. If they nap continuously for approaching three hours, in our house at least you begin to expect a cry (or a more conclusive movement in the near-dark), and if it doesn’t come—well, you wait longer; but how much longer do you wait? A nap can be short or intermittent, but at a certain point a nap becomes overly long from yours and your baby’s perspective. It’s possible that the birth of his first child had no impact of this kind on him, that, as it was an unconventional situation with his colleague and his colleague’s wife, he spent less time lingering outside the nursery of his baby daughter. But the somewhat sinister principle—of something or someone being alive and dead and only one or the other when you cannot help but take a look—comes readily to mind when we check fretfully if our baby is sleeping or awake, and alive or dead. That paradoxical cat in the box, however, could have seemed more reasonably poetic to Schrödinger than the baby in the nursery.

Jean-Christophe by Romain Rolland (The Complete 10-Volume Novel)

July 19, 2018
Who knows how it is we come to great books, at least those that are not at the inescapable centre of “accepted literature.” I came to Jean-Christophe because I kept reading about it in (nonfiction) books about humanism and animal rights. As I wrote in the introduction to the Complete 10-Volume edition of Jean-Christophe (see this site’s page about it here or the Amazon link here), Romain Rolland’s epic novel should be known, read, and celebrated in a similar way to Proust’s—perhaps it is moreso in some parts of Europe—though it is no doubt true that the extent of the achievement in literary writing (and its being more than twice as long) puts In Search of Lost Time even further into its own unique category and sophisticated descriptive sphere all its own. As I read the long novel, and as I wrote that introduction, I felt the uneasy feeling of someone that knows a particular work of art should be spoken about and beloved “for all time,” as certain masterly and fortunate artworks are, and knowing too that, like Proust, few people will have read the volumes when they came out (in French or English) and, in a world of moment-to-moment distractions, perhaps fewer people today, when the levels of education have reached new heights and into more corners around the globe than ever before, will hear of or consider venturing to read one volume let alone all ten. Who is the ideal reader? I would argue, anybody that loves literary fiction and messages of the value of art and of humanism. The message of humanism in Proust (like many works, long or short, that do not want to be over-explicit) is not as directly stated: Rolland comes right out and says it, examining how individuals and groups can construct a better society and also its most meaningful art, whereas it is in a love of the world itself and of art—the beautiful or spectacular details that we may come to miss by sleepwalking through life—that Proust compels his readers to admire anew and perhaps, with regenerated imagination, to share. I hope Jean-Christophe continues to find readers: as I wrote in the introduction, I believe it will. I was passionate about sharing the complete novel in one edition, and two paperbacks (Parts I and II together, and Part III) will be forthcoming. Below is an extract from the introduction; again, to get your copy of the book, please visit here. * *   *   * Proust and Rolland share many similarities as writers: their best work is very long—though Jean-Christophe (1904–1912) is not half the length of In Search of Lost Time (1913–1927)—and depicts the life of an artist largely in Paris (one from a smaller German town, the other a French one), in a writing style that shares the beauty or harsh truths of life moment to moment and idea to idea rather than through a stricter or more traditional plot. They both shine a light on what may appear to Read More
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