Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. I went to a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival class last weekend – we made punch (I think that’s a responsible way of saying ‘big batch cocktails’). Anyway, now I need a retro punch bowl and a new Pinterest board so that I can start collecting punch recipes. Continue reading

Quick! I need to read a whole book.

Sometimes a very, very short book is just the ticket – reading slump, testing a new genre, choosing something for your book group (because you know they don’t have the stamina for anything over 200 pages), a long train ride…

Here’s a list of my favourite very short books. Continue reading

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire

Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident is the story of a brutal murder in a rural Australian town. The victim, Bella Michaels, was a much-loved member of the community and her death stuns not only those that knew her but the whole nation. Her sister, Chris, is left to grieve, search for answers, and deal with the growing media interest in Bella’s death.

I’ll get straight to the point – I didn’t care for this book at all. Am I wrong to have immediately thought that the story exploited the Jill Meagher case? And that there was a hint of treading the same path as Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things? Continue reading

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Marguerite Duras’s The Lover is the second book I’ve read in as many weeks that’s a memoir, thinly disguised as a novel (the other being by Lily Brett).

The story is set in Saigon in the 1930s, and describes the tumultuous affair between a relatively poor adolescent French girl and her wealthy, older Chinese lover. Interspersed between details of their clandestine meetings are descriptions of the unnamed narrator’s mother – headmistress of a girls’ high school and prone to bouts of depression, and her wayward brothers. Continue reading

Sample Saturday – short books for book groups

sample-saturday-4

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye.

All three samples this week came from Sarah’s list of short books that are great conversation starters for book groups. I agreed with many of Sarah’s picks (the Phillips, Koch and Wood) and have a couple of others already in the TBR stack, so I thought I’d check out her other suggestions. Continue reading

Top Books for Book Groups that Like Wine and Whining

book-club

Okay, today’s Top Ten topic is supposed to be serious – suggestions for book groups that are crazy for memoirs or going through a science-fiction phase or whatever whatever… I love my book group deeply. We’ve been together for 17 years and, to be honest, reading the book is optional. However, we are consistent when it comes to laughing, having a wine (and sometimes a whine). Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

gillian mears

01. There’s already been many wonderful tributes to Gillian Mears. I won’t try to match them but will say that Australian literature has lost a great voice (also: a personal essay from Mears, published in Meanjin; Susan Johnson’s beautiful 2011 piece about Mears; my thoughts on the brilliant Foal’s Bread). Continue reading

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

A Land More Kind Than Home came to my attention when author Wiley Cash (or perhaps it was his publisher) tweeted a challenge – something along the lines of “Guaranteed to thrill book groups” (or words to that effect). It stayed in my mind because my book group is a tough bunch – a book has to be pretty spectacular for us to even talk about it (we’re usually busy covering other topics…and wine). Anyways, my book group didn’t read it, but I did.

It’s the story of a small town in North Carolina; a preacher with some shady practices (think his own personal cult, lots of snake-handling and talking in tongues); and a boy, Jess, who’s seen and heard things he wasn’t supposed to – with dire consequences. Continue reading