Book Review: Flames by Robbie Arnott

Evocative. Intriguing. Compelling. Flames is a wonderful novel, and Arnott is a terrific new young voice in Australian fiction. In this assured debut, Arnott immerses the reader in the Tasmanian landscape, in weird and often uncanny ways. At a superficial level, we follow the story of twenty-three-year-old Charlotte McAllister. Charlotte's mother has just died and returned (briefly) from the dead, her father is absent, and her brother wants to build her a coffin. In her grief, Charlotte flees southwards to an isolated, and improbable, wombat farm where she discovers more [...]

2018-07-16T18:26:20+00:00 July 16th, 2018|Book Review|6 Comments

Good biography, bad biography – two brief book reviews

This year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography was Caroline Fraser, for Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. If, like me, you read the Little House on the Prairie books as a child, then you already know all about Laura Ingalls Wilder. She grew up in the 1800s on the American frontier, with Ma, Pa, blind sister Grace and little sister Carrie.  Ma was endlessly patient and good, and jovial Pa was wise and strong and brave. There were blizzards and locusts, danger and drama, all tempered by [...]

2018-04-27T12:00:42+00:00 April 27th, 2018|Book Review|9 Comments

The Passengers by Eleanor Limprecht – Book Review

Eleanor Limprecht's latest novel is a delight, with compelling characters that kept me sitting up way past lights out. In The Passengers, Hannah and her grandmother Sarah are travelling, on a cruise ship, from San Diego to Sydney. Sarah left Australia at the end of WW2, as a young Australian war bride married to a US serviceman she barely knew, and has never been back since. As their ship moves across the ocean Sarah tells Hannah, a young woman struggling with her own past, how it was that in 1945 she [...]

2018-03-21T23:53:38+00:00 February 21st, 2018|Book Review|6 Comments

The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke – Book Review

If you've ever wondered whether Australia actually is a deeply racist nation, then this powerful memoir is for you. It leaves no doubt that answer is yes, all the time, and from almost everyone. From the nasty little girl at Clarke's kindergarten who wouldn't play with the brown girl, to the primary school children who constantly taunted, threatened and mocked, to the teachers and school counselors who told the teenager that it was 'only teasing', Clarke's anger about her treatment lends her prose a searing heat. Maxine Beneba [...]

2018-03-25T00:42:39+00:00 October 30th, 2017|Book Review|9 Comments

Book Review: Hunger by Roxane Gay

Hunger is so raw, poignant and compelling that it hurts to read it. At the most superficial level Hunger is a memoir about Roxane Gay's body - specifically her very tall (6'3), very large (200 kgs +) body. Gay details her daily indignities and humiliations as a woman of size moving through a world designed for much smaller people. And if that were all Hunger was about it would probably be enough. But at a deeper level Hunger is really about Gay's mental discomfort. Her shame, her anger, her guilt [...]

2018-03-25T00:55:18+00:00 August 18th, 2017|Book Review|4 Comments

Book Review: The Daintree Blockade by Bill Wilkie

What does success look like to an environmental activist? Sometimes success is obvious, like the protests against the Tasmanian Franklin Dam project. The protesters there were directly responsible for preventing the dam from being built and so protected a unique wilderness area. But sometimes success is less obvious. A battle is lost but, in the end, a war is won. Such was the case for the Daintree Blockade of the early 1980s. The Daintree rainforest of far north Queensland is every bit as unique and beautiful as the Tasmanian wilderness. [...]

2018-03-23T01:28:46+00:00 June 30th, 2017|Book Review|3 Comments

Book Review: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

A guest post today, from my gorgeous eleven year old daughter Charlie, a competent but reluctant reader who is also "the most faboulousisitst in the world."* When the book arrived in the post I thought that it was just my mum hassling me to read more. But that night when I opened the book to start reading it I actually enjoyed it. The first page was about a mathematician named Ada Lovelace, and I was hooked right away. I think my mum was very surprised when it took [...]

2018-03-25T12:12:10+00:00 June 21st, 2017|Book Review|6 Comments

Book Review: ‘Death by Dim Sim’ by Sarah Vincent

Every day at about 3pm Sarah Vincent would get up from her desk at work and haul her 122kg body across the car park to the food van across the way. Every day she would order three dim sims (or four or five) and eat them. And every day as she lumbered back to her desk she would sneer inwardly as she passed the smokers huddled outside the hospital where she worked, with their hospital gowns, and intravenous drips, and missing limbs - all desperate for their nicotine [...]

2018-03-25T01:14:28+00:00 April 21st, 2017|Book Review|0 Comments

Book Review: Hippy Days, Arabian Nights by Katherine Boland

Have you ever sat uneasily next to a talkative stranger at a function, only to find yourself mesmerised by their life story? Amazed by the crazy things they've done, dubious at their poor choices, and wincing a little when they shared a little too much intimate information? Katherine Boland's memoir is just such a rollicking ride. And I have the feeling she's never going to look back on her life and wonder if she should have chosen the road less travelled - she's followed her heart rather than her head [...]

2018-03-24T01:23:07+00:00 April 8th, 2017|Book Review|6 Comments

Death by Dim Sim

Stopped by Readings Books in Carlton today to pick up a copy of my friend's newly released memoir: Death by Dim Sim. So exciting to see it on the shelf. You should buy a copy too. Here's the blurb from the back cover. Sarah Vincent once tipped the scales at 122 kilos. She worked at the back of a hospital making calls and answering emails, but at three o'clock every afternoon she would answer a very special call - the call of the dim sim. Running the gauntlet of [...]

2018-03-25T01:19:20+00:00 March 2nd, 2017|Book Review|5 Comments