May 21, 2016
What are you eating and what’s eating you? Survival of any individual, and of any species on this planet, is a matter of balance. While you are alive, you eat to stay alive and, hopefully, thrive and pass on your set of winning genes to the next generation of critters. (more…)
May 16, 2016
Year of Wonders
Harper Collins 4th Estate 2001
A novel set in the years of the Great Plague in England (1665-66) would not seem, at first blush, to be a ‘good read’. However, Geraldine Brooks surprises the reader.
Year of Wonders is set in the village of Eyam, in the Peak District of Derbyshire. In 1666, the village voluntarily quarantines itself – no-one to leave, no-one to enter – when plague (Yersinia pestis) arrives and starts felling the villagers. This is historically correct and some of the characters in the story are based on historical people. (more…)
Text Publishing 2015
Autobiographies are stories – they contain truth, but they are still stories. How much truth they convey depends on the author – subject to accuracy of memory and to the courage to reveal personal matters. There is also the question of how much the autobiographer is prepared to include family, friends and enemies in the revelations. (more…)
May 3, 2016
Once upon a muddled time, in a country full of uncertain people, there was a confused king, bouncing from one ill-defined idea to another. No-one seemed to know that things could be different, because everyone had forgotten that they ever were different. (more…)
April 16, 2016
Take off that mask. Go on. You can’t, can you?
Over eighty million people who are registered on Facebook are not who they say they are1. I’m not surprised. Actually, I’m surprised the number is so low. Are you who you say you are? On Facebook? What about in ‘real’ life? (more…)
March 23, 2016
There are a number of important issues in Australia that affect the way our society operates, around asylum seeking, criminality and terrorism. The two main federal political parties appear to be acting on the notion that they will remain, or be, electable if they show that Australia is tough on both issues. They each support the ‘get tough’ attitude of the other, whichever of them is in power and they have been doing this for decades. They do this based on the notation that we need to be kept safe from “illegal immigrants” and terrorists – and sometimes conflate the two groups. They promulgate the fear and then play to it. (more…)
March 17, 2016
Dark Emu – Black Seeds: agriculture or accident
175 pp, including index and extensive bibliography
Magabala Books 2014
Shortlisted: 2014 Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing
Bruce Pascoe is an extraordinary writer and he has crafted an extraordinary book. In Dark Emu he examines the history of Aboriginal relationships with the land as that history has been concocted over more than two centuries by European ‘invaders’. (more…)
March 7, 2016
We are living fearful lives. Our politicians are keeping us that way and the media are assisting them eagerly. Although we live in the ‘information age’, we are not given ready access to the information we need to make informed choices or to intelligently debate the issues that affect our lives. (more…)
March 5, 2016
University of Queensland Press 2015
This wonderful novel by Tony Birch is like the river itself. It often flows gently, within defined banks, and occasionally overflows in violent flood, destructive and uncaring. In this, the river could be considered as the main character, around which the other characters ebb and flow.
The (other) main characters, viewed from the human perspective, are Ren and Sonny, two twelve-year-old boys living next door to each other in the Richmond area of Melbourne, near the Yarra River around the 1960s to ’70s. Sony is a bit like the uprooted trees that occasionally career down the river, a potential hazard. Ren becomes his best friend and tries to buffer Sonny’s behaviour. (more…)
Clancy Tucker Publishing 2015
Clancy Tucker has written a delightful story of a teenage girl overcoming adversity. Rida is an immigrant, a Muslim, and is bullied at school because of the way she looks and because she is regarded as a nerd. She doesn’t fit in because she stands out. In the process of trying to avoid her tormentors, she meets people who assist her in unexpected ways.
Rida also meets Ky, another girl who doesn’t fit in and who has a secret that eventually turns Rida’s life around completely. This is a narrative very much of our time, dealing with issues of xenophobia and prejudice and how various people deal with these. (more…)