Upstate by James Wood

Do you ever start a book, notice something peculiar, and then can’t see anything but the repeated peculiartity? Such was the case with Upstate by James Wood (I’ll get to the peculiarity).

Alan Querry is a successful property developer from the north of England. He has two daughters: Vanessa, a philosopher who lives and teaches in upstate New York, and Helen, a record company executive based in London. The women are very different, “…Helen did things while Vanessa thought things”, but neither had ever quite recovered from their parents’ bitter divorce; the early death of their mother; and their disapproval of Candace, Alan’s second wife. Continue reading

Melbourne Writers Festival 2019 – the last bit

I’m hopelessly late reporting on my last two 2019 Melbourne Writers Festival events, but both were fantastic and worth a mention.

Corey White – The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory

I think my favourite session this Festival was comedian Corey White talking with Sarah Krasnostein about his memoir, The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory. Continue reading

A Constant Hum by Alice Bishop

A Constant Hum by Alice Bishop is a quiet, contemplative collection of stories about a brutal topic – the 2009 Victorian Black Saturday bushfires. 

You remember mostly, three a.m.: they found our neighbours in clusters, mostly in amalgam fillings and tyre rims trickled into what looked like snowy earth – silvers, gunmetal greys and blacks so petrol-shiny you’d think of a currawong’s wing… We were comforted, afterwards, that things ended for them together, holding each other under betadine-and-copper-coloured smoke. Under a sky that’d once promised kinder things: maybe Vegemite toast on Sunday morning, maybe a weeknight, after-work kiss. Continue reading

Melbourne Writers Festival 2019 – the middle bit

Two more events!

Powerful Landmarks

In a stroke of scheduling genius, MWF organisers put Enza Gandolfo (author of The Bridge) and Kristina Olsson (author of Shell) together to discuss how built structures can be representative of difficult pasts and uncertain futures. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (Winter) 2019 – Challenge Complete

The 20 Books of Summer reading challenge drew to a close on Melbourne’s first distinctly-Spring-like day (it was 21 degrees here yesterday and glorious). I don’t have trouble reading 20 books in the allotted time (this year I read 20.5 hard copies and listened to six audiobooks) however I am a bit behind on reviews… Continue reading

Melbourne Writers Festival 2019 – the first bit

Can you see Tayari Jones in the pic above? She looks tiny but I had to show off the magnificent Capitol Theatre, one of the venues for this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival.

I managed four sessions on my first Festival day. The highlights: Continue reading