Thinking Allowed - Including musings by Daan Spijer.

Archive for November, 2009

Book Reviews

November 30, 2009

The Writing Class

the_writing_class-cover_200pxThe Writing Class

Jincy Willett

ISBN: 9781921372117


326 pp

Scribe 2008

I found this novel difficult to get into, because I made up my mind half-way through the first page that I didn’t like the style.  It would have been a big mistake, had I given up then – the first few pages are someone’s diary entry and the narrative begins on page five. (more…)

From the Kitchen

November 25, 2009

From the Kitchen #27

briefcase_bannerIt’s easy to get carried away over things that are free, such as briefcases stuffed with money or being offered seats in the pointy end of an aeroplane.  Stories can be woven around simple incidents, but often the truth will suffice.

Still in New Zealand, my wife and I were following signs to an historic village museum in Auckland.  A wrong turn and there it stood – a lone briefcase.  It occupied the edge of a car space, right in the middle of a car park.  There were a few cars parked around the periphery.  We looked at each other.  I decided I’d better relieve the briefcase of its loneliness. (more…)

Book Reviews

November 24, 2009



David George

ISBN: 9781921325045


256 pp

Ilura Press 2008

This is an interesting book with a complex structure.  It is a love story and a psychological thriller.  It is something of a mystery from the enigmatic beginning to the loose end. (more…)

From the Kitchen

November 18, 2009

From the Kitchen #26


“This is the final wake-up call for passengers travelling on flight EK460 to Auckland.  We apologise for disturbing you but we must insist you board the plane and we invite you to continue your slumbers in the cramped seats in sub-economy class C.”

I wake up with the jolt of the wheels touching down.  I uncramp myself and smile at my wife uncramping herself next to me.

Yes, I’ve escaped from the kitchen and left the dog in the capable hands of number one daughter.  I expect both to survive for a week. (more…)

Book Reviews

November 16, 2009

History Unrepeated

History Unrepeated

convincing_ground-cover_200pxConvincing Ground: Learn to fall in love with your country

Bruce Pascoe

Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2007

ISBN: 978-085575-549-2

History depends on who writes it and the writing of it creates that history.  On that basis, much of the history of this country is still missing.  Bruce Pascoe has gone some way to correcting this. (more…)

From the Kitchen

November 11, 2009

From the Kitchen #25

red_grass-450_bannerToday we are urged to remember something that many men and women are still trying to forget – Armistice Day.  Like ANZAC Day, it brings back memories of the atrocities they witnessed or were forced to be part of.  And what is forgotten on this day of remembrance is that, even on the day that World War 1 ended exactly ninety-one years ago, it took some six hours for the ceasefire to take effect.  Germany had already surrendered a day or so earlier – the document was signed at 5 am, and was worded to not take effect until 11 am.  Was the ritual timing so important?  How many thousands died in those six hours? (more…)

Book Reviews

November 9, 2009

Bird by Bird

bird_by_bird-coverBird by Bird

Anne Lamott
ISBN: 9781921372476
237 pp
Scribe 2008

As a writer, I occasionally pick up a ‘how to…’ book, looking for gems of wisdom or inspiration to ride like a surfboard on the waves of creativity.  I have rarely read any of these in their entirety – they have mostly been too dry to be griping, though many were useful (such as How to Build Your Own Particle Accelerator). (more…)

From the Kitchen

November 4, 2009

From the Kitchen #24

biohazardWhat does one do when one sees an activity that has become a trend that can easily lead to horrible outcomes?  Especially when there are examples of just that happening?

One can write to one’s Member of Parliament and Senators.  One can write letters to newspapers.  One can call talk-back radio.  One can write a blog.  But, before going public with details, one had better be sure of one’s facts.

As regular readers of this column will know, I can get righteously angry about things, and this is one of them. (more…)

Book Reviews

Words to Inspire Writers

words_to_inspire_writers-coverWords to Inspire Writers

Edited by Greg Babic

Published by FC Sach & Sons

ISBN: 978-0-980372-20-5

RRP: US$20, UK£15

Available from

This is indeed an inspiring book for writers.  From time to time we sit and stare into space and the wise or goading words of writers past and present may help you to pick up the quill and dip it into the ink pot again. (more…)

Book Reviews

November 2, 2009

Finding the Bloke

bloke_cover-200pxFinding the Bloke

Bloke: Who does this bloke think he is?

Bruce Pascoe

Viking/Penguin, Melbourne, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-670-07367-2

It is not often that I start a novel and finish it within four days.  My copy of Bloke went with me everywhere so that I could devour another chapter or two between other activities.  From page one I was drawn into the Bloke’s world of diving, small-town life, corruption, prison life and love.  Like the abalone divers he works with, I came up for air occasionally, gasping.  The writing is consistently lyrical and evocative: (more…)