Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

If you’ve coming looking for a thorough and comprehensive review of Claire G. Coleman’s debut, Terra Nullius, move along. I, like others, are saying nothing about what happens in this book for fear of spoiling it. Continue reading

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The long and the short of it…

If previous longlists are anything to go by, you’d have to say that short story collections get a fair crack at the Stella Prize. And because I’m going to have a go at predicting the Stella longlist this year, I figured I should read as many eligible books as I can before making a call –

Pulse Points by Jennifer Down Continue reading

Blue Dog by Louis de Bernières

I need to start by saying that Red Dog by Louis de Bernières is one of those rare books that I recommend to #ALLTHEPEOPLE (and ‘animal stories’ aren’t really my thing). So from the outset, Blue Dog was a big collar to fill.

I also need to start with the Afterword. Blue Dog came about after the success of the film version of Red Dog, when the producer approached de Bernières with ideas for a prequel. It was suggested that the story be novelised, for dual release with the Blue Dog film. Initially, de Bernières resisted – “I was hostile about it, as I am far too grand and snobbish to turn other people’s stories into novels…” but he liked the script, loves the Pilbara and loves red cloud kelpies, hence Blue Dog. Continue reading

An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen

This book is bananas.

I didn’t ‘like’ it but it’s hard not to be impressed by something that is so incredibly creative and thought-provoking.

But before I go on, it should be noted that Krissy Kneen’s An Uncertain Grace comes with a big bunch of trigger warnings (rape, sex crimes against children, treatment of paedophiles). Continue reading

A Family Romance by Anita Brookner

Five things I thought while listening to A Family Romance by Anita Brookner:

01. I can rely on Brookner for the sort of consistency that I love in Yates or Taylor.

02. So, so glad that there’s a bunch of Brookner on my library’s BorrowBox list and that it’s narrated by Fiona Shaw (whose voice has just enough plum to provide deeply satisfying listening). Continue reading

The Museum of Words by Georgia Blain

There’s a saying that truth is stranger than fiction and Georgia Blain’s exquisite posthumous memoir, The Museum of Words is testimony to this.

We often expect reality as we experience it to be less dramatic than fiction, and most of the time it is. But this was a perfect storm: a confluence of dark clouds gathering, all lined up in the horizon, every one of them heading my way. Continue reading

The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop

Homesickness is a peculiar thing. Unpredictable and urgent or gently tugging and constant. I have never really experienced homesickness (even as a 16-year-old exchange student in Germany) – not as an overwhelming sensation, anyway. But my brother would, even on our month-long family summers at McCrae – he just wanted his own bed and his usual routines. I was thinking a lot about people’s different experiences as I was reading Stephanie Bishop’s The Other Side of the World. Continue reading

The Mint Lawn by Gillian Mears

Phew. I found The Mint Lawn by Gillian Mears intense. And dense. I was expecting to become completely absorbed (as I did with Foal’s Bread) but instead, I got bogged down in heavy prose, the shifting timeline, and emotionally taxing characters.

The story is set in the fictional town of Jacaranda, on the north coast of New South Wales (I believe Jacaranda is based on the town of Grafton). Clementine, aged twenty-five and married to her high-school music teacher, Hugh, is still living in the place where she grew up, bound by memories and her inability to make sense of past events. Told from Clementine’s point-of-view, the story rotates around her sisters, her parents (Ventry and Cairo), her grandmother, Hugh and her lover.

But it is one of those memory stories that has accumulated colours and meanings more potent than the event itself. Continue reading