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All that I am by Anna Funder

Though it is the hardest thing, to work out one’s weight and heft in the world, to whittle down al that I am and give it value.

I relished Stasiland written by the talented and sensitive Anna Funder. Her profound insight into the plight of humankind and the human psyche revealed in Stasiland meant that as soon as I saw her name on the dustjacket of All that I am, I had to have it!

The story based largely on the stories of a person whom she interviewed for Stasiland tells about a group of refugee activists who attempt to alert the English about Hitler’s insidious malevolence. Told from the perspective of two activitists, Ruth in Sydney and Toller in New York, it is the tale of shattered innocence and determination to take a stand against the mighty machine of Hitler’s regime.

Deeply personal, this is a tale of intrigue, love and betrayal. In many respects, All that I am was one of the saddest books I have read in a long time. The intensity of emotions and the insight into the human condition left me gasping for air at times.

Anna Funder is a magnificent writer and this is a story that had to be told.Image

This entry was posted on May 6, 2012. 1 Comment

You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead by Marieke Hardy

The title of this novel resonated with me, having heard it all too often by my own mother when I was being coerced into doing something she wanted me to do. Marieke Hardy, never afraid to be the lone voice in the wilderness, reflects in her memoir on key experiences in her life, all recounted with a liberal dash of humour.

From her decision at the age of eleven to become a prostitute when she grew up, to stalking her Young Talent idol and obsession with Bob Ellis, Marieke weaves the rich tapestry of her life experiences and gives a refreshing view of her world and encounters. Honest and voyeuristic, this memoir reveals a razor-sharp intellect that does not suffer fools gladly; compassion for mankind and a wholehearted embracing of life’s experiences.

Marieke is out there and makes no apology for being so. She has the ability to fully immerse herself in the moment and then when it is over “walk into the future”. Bad taste and bad language abound.This is not a memoir that I would recommend to my elderly mother. There is nevertheless a fragility and wickedness about the writing that makes this well worth reading. 

 

This entry was posted on April 26, 2012. 3 Comments

Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears

Set in farming country in rural New South Wales, this novel tells the story of the Nancarrow family and the show jumping circuit in this area. Ultimately an epically sad novel about the hopes and dreams of youth being shattered by the reality of life. All is disillusionment.

I had looked forward to this book with such relish, They hype surrounding it was phenomenal. I found that despite being an avid horse lover, this book was an arduous task- one that had to be completed so that I could make some small contribution to our Australian Book Club. Needless to say, I celebrated when I finally completed it.

I was,however, the only person in our group not to have enjoyed it. Other members of the club, reveled in the prose, its powerful story and the connection with the land. For me,Image this reading experience was mind-numbingly boring. I found the dialogue hard to follow. For me, the best feature of the book was its silky cover.

 

This entry was posted on April 25, 2012. 7 Comments

Floundering by Romy Ash

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This debut novel from Romy Ash packs a powerful punch, that winds you and leaves you gasping for air and water. Floundering tells the story of two brothers, Tom and Jordy, who are reclaimed from their grandmother by their highly dysfunctional and estranged mother and taken on a road trip across Australia. All semblance of normality and stability is shattered as these young boys are immersed in their mother’s world. Their new lives are centered in a remote caravan park on the west coast. The caravan park is inhabited by a handful of marginalized people including the sinister Nev. 

Dialogue driven, this narrative is told from the perspective of the very tender Tom, youngest of the two boys. A soul that one wants to love and protect, as he narrates  the slow disintegration of the fabric of his world.

Deeply disturbing because it all too possible and is the experience of life that some marginalised folk have this book is a must read. I could not read it in one sitting it was too deeply disturbing. I did finish it after an Avid Reader Salon Event, where Romy Ash was interviewed for Radio National, in which she commented that she did not want any really bad characters in the novel and did not want readers to hate her characters.  Knowing the author’s intention enabled me to read it through a softer lens.

This book will challenge you and punch you in the guts. 

This entry was posted on April 21, 2012. 3 Comments

Margo Lanagan: Sea Hearts

The jacket describes this novel as “hauntingly beautiful”. Spellbinding and mesmerising are other verbs that come to mind. Reading this novel one could feel the ebb and flow of the tides and the rhythms of body, binding mankind to the very essence of life.Margo Lanagan’s prose is shatteringly beautiful. An exquisite tale.

Set on the remote island of Rollrock, this magical story tells of Misskaella the “sea-witch” who is able to “draw a girl from the heart of a seal”. For a price, the men on the island are able to buy themselves a sea bride. This story brings to life the legend of the selkie, a Celtic mythological creature.

Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the characters. Like jigsaw pieces they seamlessly fit together to create the complete story. Tales of empathy and almost tangible descriptions create a novel about longing, belonging, a sense of place and yearning for connection.

In the UK and the US this book has been published as “The Brides of Rollrock.”

 

This entry was posted on April 2, 2012. 2 Comments

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