Category Archives: guide to better living through apathy


The good thing about buying books as Xmas gifts is that you can write in the front of them and it saves you buying a card. This means that not only do you save on money and paper wastage, but many years from now when you and the person you gave the book to are both very, extremely dead some first year literature student will stumble on the copy of the book you gifted amongst the labyrinthine shelves of a charming secondhand bookstore run by an old man with weird glasses and a funny sneeze.

The student will read the little message you wrote to your loved one and say ‘How cute!’ and think about how both the giver and recipient are both dead and how they lived in a time when Australia didn’t even have a science minister and they treated refugees like war criminals and then they will jump on their hoverboard, blast some technoblues through their soundsphere and disappear into the sunset with a smile on their face.



If loving you is wrong, I’d like to be partially incorrect.

This week, I'm going to give you some advice on romance. Now, I know what you're thinking. It's either A) How did I end up at this page when I was looking for videos of cats playing keyboards??? or B) Why on earth would J. M. Donellan be qualified to give relationship advice? He seems to just post about getting dumped all the time


I have no answer for A) but in regards to B) I'm hardly going to be the first amateur to deign to impart ill-founded advice. I mean, the Situation wrote a fucking book with advice on dating, I'm pretty goddamn sure I'm more qualified than he is. Not least because of the fact that I realise that a book should consist of more than just 133 pages of narcissistic, misogynistic ranting. And fashion tips. 

Sure, love can be a beautiful thing. But let's face it there are plenty of times when it can also be gross, stupid, frustrating, painful and sometimes, just really fucking inconvenient. Maybe they're your housemate. Perhaps you just have the wrong anatomy for their romantic preferences. Or they just said the sentence "I don't know who David Bowie is." Maybe they're dating your best friend and the three of you hang out all the time and once in a while you'll all have a little too much to drink and he/she will suggest you all head into the bedroom together and by the time you realise they were only joking you're already half undressed and then you have to pretend like you were only joking too but they both know you weren't and it gets super awkward and even worse they've seen they embarrassing tattoo that you keen meaning to get removed…

Whatever the case. There are times when being in love in just a terrible idea, so here are my strategies to help you not love someone.


Simple but effective. If the politician in question is ugly and/or the wrong gender for your preferences, even better. Just imagine someone who really sums up everything that's wrong with politics and modern society in general, someone like, oh I don't know…

Campbell newman


Canned-chrysalis-300x94"Jenny? Oh no, I'm WAY over her. She smells like transmutational butterfly larvae."

Sounds weird, I know, but weirder than tying all your hopes, dreams and happiness to one single human being who is just going to end up decomposing in the ground some day? I think not. Keep a packet of something disgusting in your pocket, like canned chrysalises for instance. Every time you see or think about your soon-to-be-not-loved one, shove something putrid into your facehole. Once you associate the object of your desire with squirming, crunchy larvae, IT'S BYE BYE ROMANCE!



I know this is often what people do when a relationship is going WELL, but this is primarily due to the fact that people are idiots. By the time dear old dad asks them for the sixth time if they got that nose ring because they were hoping to more closely resemble a swine or just to antagonise their deadbeat parents you'll know that all hopes of a happy, successful relationship are dead in the water.


Dawson-crying"Oh god! I can't do crosswords anymore! She used to use words like, all the time! Sometimes in sentences, or paragraphs even! It was our special thing…"

Bear in mind all relationships end, the only variables are when and how badly. Just try and picture that last time, when you listened to the 3 Smith Kings of Misery (Elliott Smith, The Smiths and Robert Smith) on repeat and lived on a daily intake of three bottles of cheap red wine and a family sized block of cadbury chocolate. Actually that last bit doesn't sound too bad, but then there was the bawling over summertime photos, the dividing of possessions, the places, songs, books and movies that were forever ruined. Yeah, that's right. You've got all of THAT to look forward to. Maybe in three months time, maybe three years, maybe three decades but whatever the case we all know that breaking up with someone feels like having your heart torn out of your chest, ripped in half, spat on, then forcibly reinserted via your colon.

So there you have it. Next time you start falling in love and it's going to be the worst idea ever you can thank me for reminding you that's it's the worst idea ever. Send me a thank you email. Maybe with a photo attached. Perhaps a facebook friend request.

Are you single?


Inaugural Premier’s Obituary Award

My Dearest Queensland, I have just returned from a weekend swimming in your resplendant blue waters at Stradbroke island, followed by two nights in the majestic sunshine coast hinterland, only to return to Brisbane and discover that Campbell 'I hate the arts so much you'd think they strangled my puppy' Newman has scrapped the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards. Bewilderingly, he has deigned to do this during The OFFICIAL YEAR OF READING. Did no one send him a memo? Perhaps they did, and he didn't read it. After all, he has publicly stated that he's 'not into studies and plans.' Not sure how he managed to get an engineering degree, if that's the case…


The money he's 'saving' is a paltry $224 000, an amount that is miniscule in terms of a state budget, but means a great deal to the arts. We are talking about BOOKS here! In the words of George R. R. Martin (via Tyrion Lannister): "The mind need books like a sword needs a whetstone." Newman, it would appear, is all too happy to have some very blunt swords at play.

"If I had to choose between Joffrey and Newman… Hrm. Is there a third option? Stabbing my eyes out with a fork perhaps?"

The loss of the Premier's Literary Award is a devastating blow to the QLD literary community, and if there's one thing I've learnt from a misspent youth reading too many fantasy novels, revenge is a cycle which always ends in joyous victory of good over evil with no sideline ramifications whatsoever. That's why I am, today, right now, announcing the Inaugural Premier's Obituary Award. Whoever can create the most amusing protest (of any kind) against this atrocity, or Mr. Newman in general, will receive:

ReadingMadameBovary_cover  +  Dying +  Cd_ripping

ZEB AND THE GREAT RUCKUS (Um…it doesn't have a cover design yet…)

1 x copy of Reading Madame Bovary The last (ever!?) book to win the Premier's Fiction award

1 x signed copy of my first novel A Beginner's Guide to Dying in India

1 x signed copy of my forthcoming novel Zeb and The Great Ruckus (Due for release later this year).

20 x new release CDs from both major and indie labels. (From my other job as a music reviewer. Selection will depend on what the hell they give me).

All of this will be hand delivered by me. I'll even make you dinner if you like. (Although I am a terrible cook.)

Email your entries (photos/word docs/media files/whatever you’ve got) to jmdonellan(AT)gmail(DOT)com by June 30th. The winner will be decided on August 30th.

You should also sign this petition to have the award reinstated and check out the Queensland Literary awards, recently established by Krissy Keen and Matthew Condon.


A human writes about human rights.



Congratulations QLD! Your new premier has a lucky elephant. So presumably everything is going to be just fine! (Not making this up he really does call it his lucky elephant.)

The economy is in permanent flux, that's the nature of the beast. Complaining about the economy being unstable is like complaining about water being wet, ice cream being fattening or commercial radio DJs being moronic neanderthals with all the musical and cultural knowledge of a intellectually impaired iguana with early onset dementia. That is simply their inherent condition. 

However, when a government brings in improvements to civil rights, an action, by the way, that can be achieved quickly and at very small cost to the state, then that action becomes very hard to repeal. Newman has made the claim he is going to overturn the civil union act. I'm going to go ahead and bet that he's done that merely to chase the hate vote. Overturning such a recently introduced law would be arduous and, more importantly, unnecessary now that's won this round of game of thrones. 

We need to recognise that the myriad changes that a government can bring in during their three year term in regards to employment, taxation and even infrastructure are of course all very important, but civil rights policy should trump ALL of these. Every. Single. Time. Governments and financial conditions come and go. But the rights of every citizen to be treated equal, to have access to uniform rights and privileges and to enjoy the multitudinous opportunities that being a member of this nation and this state should entitle you to, regardless of gender, race, sexual preference or religion, should be indelible and unassailable. 

People like to use the term 'rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic' I think a more apt metaphor for this situation would be arguing about the Apollo 11’s interior decoration whilst ignoring its trajectory.

"Hey Buzz, whaddya think, should we put the put the coffee table over by the drapes or near the ottoman? Whassat? Ah…I dunno just make a left at the stratosphere and head for the big white hunka rock I guess?"






How To Do Your Xmas Shopping Without Losing Your Will To Live

I hate shopping. And not just because I'm an 'anti-consumerist hippie.' I hate trying stuff on, I hate waiting in queues and I hate the fact that stores play insufferable techno music with a high BPM that is specifically selected to impair your impulse control systems. 


"You know, I thought that $149.95 for a polo shirt was a little pricey, but now that I've had a Bleach-blonde German guy yelling at me for a few minutes over the sound of what appears to be a few dozens synths being massacred by a chainsaw, I realise it's actually a really great deal!"

Around Christmas time, shopping transmogrifies from a mild ordeal into a kafkaesque nightmare soundtracked by horrendous carols on incessant repeat and a horde of holiday shoppers who, I'm quite sure, were friendly, muffin baking, herb-garden-planting suburbanites just a few weeks ago but have now become furious, salivating bargain hunters who occasionally use capsicum spray.

I'm no scrooge though, I like giving presents and bearing witness to that heart-warming half-smile that just screams "Are you kidding me did you seriously think I would like THIS?!? Witness the wrath of my obviously feigned gratitude and appreciative hug!" This year, however, I decided to do 100% of my shopping online through ethical retailers. This means that not only do I skip the queues, irate holiday shoppers and twenty minute search for a car park, but the gifts I get give a little something back to the developing world.

Think about it, if you buy a $120 Adidas handbag for your sister, extremely effeminate dad, or horrendously anthropomorphised poodle and they don't like it, you've not only blown your hard earned cash, you've also contributed profits to a corporation that uses child and sweatshop labour and has a history of sexually harassing its workers.


"OMG! Are you, like for real! ?! That TOTES does not go with this outfit!"

If you do your christmas hopping at an ethical retailer and your loved one throws their gift in the bottom of their cupboard for all eternity, at least you've given some money to working communities in the developing world who will be paid a fair wage and use environmentally sound practices. Doing it online means you can even shop in your underwear whilst listening to the Ramones. Which I suppose you could do in the store as well, but it might come across as a little weird. 



"Yeah I'll take one of those wallets, a diary, these candles…oh wait! GUITAR SOLO!!!"

Here's a list of some of the leading ethical gift stores, feel free to suggest others.



New Internationalist 

Ethical Gifts





Dearest spawn: words of wisdom for the future

Recently I was requested to write some words of wisdom for the as yet unborn child of two of my very dear friends. Having a great deal of words but a rather appalling dearth of wisdom, I soon found myself overwhelmed by the grandiose responsibility of providing the literary form of a guiding light in the darkness to a not yet fully downloaded human child foetus. I ended up crying in the corner in much the same manner of a new born babe for several hours before consoling myself by thinking about breasts (again, much like in the manner of an infant).

20070525_baby My life is so freakin sweet! People lavish attention

on me constantly and everyone thinks it's adorable when I burp or

defecate! I hope the rest of my life is exactly like this!

This whole ordeal got me thinking; if I were to one day be so cruel as to decide to subject the world to the burden of my offspring, what words would I give the little bastard to send them on their way before I suffer an untimely death by turtle mauling or fireworks and pogo stick incident?

Here's what I came up with. Feel free to cut and paste this for your own use.

Dearest spawn,

Congratulations on being selected from millions of potential sperm candidates to become my progeny!

I have decided to bequeath unto you some words of wisdom for the future. However, the future which you will inhabit will doubtlessly differ greatly from the present. Hence the best advice I am able to give you has been obtained primarily from science fiction novels.

This is what people in the past thought time machines

would look like. What a bunch of morons.

It doesn't even have an ipod dock!

1 If you ever get sent back into the past DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING. Not even breasts. (Sidenote: Infancy is the only time in your life when you will be able to gain access to breasts by merely screaming and crying. ENJOY IT.)

2 If you ever get sent to a gorgeous utopian future TOUCH EVERYTHING because you are obviously dreaming. The future is going to be a horrible, horrible place. Really, it will be just awful.


3 Just because everyone else in the world is wearing tight fitting silver suits doesn't mean that you have to. In fact, by wearing a variant outfit you substantially increase the likelihood of being the star of the piece.

4 Big Brother is watching. And he is fucking bored.

5 Soylent Green, while delicious, is no substitute for a healthy balanced diet.

6 Soma, while delicious, is no substitute for a healthy balanced diet.


7 Don't do it, she's a robot!

8 Don't do it, she's a clone!

9 Don't do it, she's you from a parallel universe where you've had an extremely convincing sex change operation!

10 When all your human parts are eventually replaced by cybernetic enhancements, make sure you shell out the extra bucks for the extended warranty. No one wants a future where you have to buy a replacement prostate every three months.

11 Floss


The Price is Free

Dear the Government,

How are you?  I know that you are rather busy unreasonably oppressing refugess in direct violation of the UN charter that you signed, but I wondered if you might address something for me.


The thing is; I love libraries. At a library I can instantly attain one of the things that I love most in the world: books. Not only this, but I can sit and read them in air conditioning with a view of the river and really weird fluroscent lighting, all for zero dollars. This is convenient as it just so happens that free is my favourite price. Not to play the poor starving artist card, but as it happens I am a poor starving artist. It says so right here, where I wrote it in purple texta:

    This is a picture of a piece of card with the

words 'I am a starving artist' written in purple


This ironically means that I can’t afford to buy lots of books. Thus libraries are wonderful. The only problem however, is that whilst reading a book I am temporarily prevented from writing books of my own. If I were to attempt to do such a thing my books would basically just be regurgitations of whatever books I was reading in a specific time period. This kind of thing is called plagiarism and is generally frowned upon, unless your name is James Cameron in which case people like to give you academy awards and several billion dollars for being very extremely good at plagiarism.

I would like the goverment to set up other services where I can get things that I enjoy for free. Here is a list for your convenience:


Nature (this used to be free, but is not mostly owned by rich jerks who build giant fences.)


Food (but not the dead animal flesh kind).

Art (the good kind, not the I-went-to-art-school-because-I-wanted-an-excuse-to-wear this-yellow-lycra-jumpsuit kind.)

Video games.

Foot rubs.

If you could get right on that it would be very much appreciated. In turn I will continue to pay my tax dollars which I earn through selling my books to people who are allergic to libraries. By current estimates by tax contirubtion is 0.00000000000000000000000000000000314% of the national GDP and in light of this fact I would think that you would take this suggestion very seriously.

Thankyou and I hope you have a lovely day incarcerating people who are escaping from war-torn countries.


Yours Since Clearly,

JM Donellan



This is an artpiece made of art by an artist that says' Todo Esta Muy Caro' which is spanish for 'everything is very expensive.' If the artist had been working in Australia, he may have instead written 'todo esta muy, muy fucking caro.' Except that we probably wouldn't have let him in account of that fact that he spoke foreign talky sounds. And even worse, is an artist.


Interim parliament vows to keep Australia ‘one nation under a groove’

In news that is bound to shock Australia and the world, long buried legislation has been uncovered that states that in the event of a hung parliament an interim foreign political body of an allied democratic nation must be installed.

The US government was last night asked to fulfill this role, but in a clerical error by civil servant Gary Wentworth who had been drinking coffee and watching red and blue lines incrementally increase for 12 hours, the US funk band 'parliament' was installed instead of the Obama led administration.



Wentworth was unavailable for comment and was last seen sucking his thumb
and very slowly drawing red and blue lines on his arm muttering 'too
close to call, too close to call…'


Bandleader George Clinton said he had been surprised by the call, but vowed that he and around a dozen of the best past and current members of parliament/funkadelic would endeavour to keep Australia 'one nation under a groove' until the new government had been installed. "I'll be bringing the funk, the whole funk and nothing but the funk." He added.

Bootsy Bass player Bootsy Collins responded with a forty-three minute bass solo and a maniacal cackle. The band have stated that they will keep the nation distracted from the pressing question of who is in charge by the even more pressing question of whether to 'get on up' or 'get on down.'


"The most urgent health problem in the developed world is obesity. The most urgent health problem in the developing world is starvation."


African kid

"Either you motherfuckers need to start sharing those cheeseburgers or I am going to have to try and get Madonna to adopt me. Do you really want to live with that on your hands?"


"Ah….there's nothing like eating a cheeseburger at the beach…hey! Where did my feet go! Oh, there they are, buried under my rolls of corpulent fat that also do a great job of concealing my long forsaken dignity."

THINK ABOUT IT. This is not exactly Schrodinger's cat theory here (if you aren't familiar with this, here's an explanation by a guy with a huge afro). We aren't talking about the Copenhagen interpretation, Hesienberg Uncertainty principle, or Gödel's incompleteness theorem. This is basic fucking logic. Rich people have and control too much and are killing themselves, as a result poor people have too little and are dying. This is basically the global sociopolitical equivalent of solving the following equation:

solve for x:

2 + x = 4

Think about it, think about it…THERE IT IS! See, was that so hard?

(Courier Mail readers may require the following information: x = 2)


"No matter how good you are at your job, there will always be someone much less talented than you making a lot more money."

This might seem like  cop out statement for an artist, but I feel it's never a bad idea to reiterate just how terrible the taste of the general public is. Just look at the ten most popular youtube videos; 20% Miley Cyrus and 20% babies laughing. I have to confess that with my eyes closed I have difficulty distinguishing between them. 

this was the only video in the top ten that didn't make my eyeballs want to vomit:

But wait, there's a slightly larger quantity than was previously expected! Just take a look at the world of books and see how bad the situation is. I mean, I wouldn't mind sitting several thousand sales slots beneath, say Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood or Don Delilo. But these jokers? We're basically talking the literary equivalent of that god-awful 90s throwback grunge band you saw at O'Malleys a few weekends ago with the lead singer with a beer gut and a guns'n'roses tattoo. Picture that band raking in millions of dollars a year.

Yeah, fucking EXACTLY.



by Glenn "I hate everything except money" Beck

Sure, I know, everyone weighs in on Glenn Beck. He's an easy target. But here's the thing: HE SHOULDN'T BE. It shouldn't be so disgustingly, appalling easy to pick deathstar sized holes in the arguments and rationalisations of someone with such significant influence. Not content to simply pose as an appallingly poor journalist, Beck also writes the kind of fiction that gives gun-toting rednecks with a pathological fear of anyone who speaks 'foreign' a delightful shiver in their commie-hatin' loins. If you can read this book without wanting to remove your eyeballs with a melonballer, then I applaud you.

The plot is thinly veiled disguise for Beck's general polemic ranting, which can basically be summed up by just spitting on the universal declaration of human rights (which, coincidentally, currently ranks #830,082.)



by J R "no actually I've never heard of True Blood" Ward

This is a story about a vampire (I know, it already smacks of originality right?) but not just any kind of vampire! The protagonist of Lover Avenged is a SYMPATH vampire, who "gets energy from manipulating others' emotions." If only Edward Cullen gained his power from manipulating the hormones of menopausal midwives, he'd be stronger than the gravitational field of a collapsed star.

Okay so this sympath vampire's name is Revhenge (actual spelling), and surprisingly, he isn't part of a six-piece gangster rap posse from south-central LA. I could go on, but basically the hideous fact that this author penned a series of Sookie Stackhouse ripoff/general vampire cash in books so shamefacedly is only outstripped by the horror of their success. Which brings us to:

Marry him


by Lori Gottlieb (seems unfair to make fun of such a ridiculous name).

This is basically several hundred pages of Ms. Gottlieb screaming "Just settle!" Seriously. The fundamental premise of this book is that by searching for 'Mr Right' women miss their golden chance at settling down for a life of beige-coated, vanilla flavoured, AM radio sound tracked mediocrity with Mr. Good Enough. This is possibly the most depressing premise for a book I've EVER heard. And I've read the Bell Jar twice.