Heimat – A German Family Album by Nora Krug

In the mid-eighties, I was an exchange student in Germany. I was hosted in a small town in the south, and Heidelberg was the closest large town. My days at school were routinely interrupted by US airforce planes flying overhead and breaking the sound barrier – teachers and students were so used to this happening that conversation paused and resumed automatically. Likewise, no one seemed to notice US tanks rolling through the streets. It was 1987 and there were daily reminders of the Holocaust; what this nation had done wrong; and who was ‘in charge’ now. That’s what it felt like to me, anyway, and I was fascinated by how the past was felt in the present.

My trip in 1987 remains one of the most significant experiences I have had. Seeing the imbedded sense of guilt and shame carried by people born long after the war had an enormous impact. At the time, I couldn’t name what I was seeing, but we now know it as intergenerational trauma (and in no way do I mean to minimise, or compare it to, the trauma experienced by those persecuted during the Holocaust).

In her graphic memoir, Heimat, Nora Krug traces her family history, in an effort to uncover their wartime past in Nazi Germany, and to understand how her German history has shaped her life.

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Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. It was our annual International Night dinner with friends last week. This year we were Rockin’ the Moroccan. My contribution included cocktails, nibbles, and dessert. Of the things I made, a few recipes will be repeated in the future – Gin and Mint Tea cocktail (the complex sugar syrup is well worth the effort – I doubled the quantity and made a pitcher); Moroccan ‘sausage rolls’; this orange cake and this lemon cake – I’m no baker but these cakes were easy and delicious. Continue reading

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

It took all my restraint to not type ‘Anna Delvey’ into Google as I was reading My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams because, although I was vaguely aware of the outcome of Williams’s ‘Sex and the City meets Catch Me if You Can’ story, I couldn’t recall the detail. And it is the detail that makes this memoir so engrossing. Continue reading

It’s all happening in November

Argh! Three excellent reading challenges for the month of November – what will I do? How can I squeeze them all in?!

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There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett

I volunteer with a palliative program as a biography writer. People tell their stories, I transcribe them. People will often say that they have ‘nothing to tell’. That’s never true, although I have learnt that the dates and facts about a person’s life are not that important. Instead, the story is in the small details and their recollections of how they felt at particular moments – that’s where the meaning is found.

Favel Parrett’s third novel, There Was Still Love, demonstrates how detail tells the story. It’s an ode to the life Favel shared with her grandparents – her fond memories are woven through a fictional account of twin Czechoslovakian sisters, separated by World War II. One stays in Prague, the other crams her life into a small brown suitcase and travels to Melbourne.

You must close up tight, protect your most needed possessions – all you can hold. Your heart, your mind, your soul. You must become a little suitcase and try not to think about home. Continue reading