Books

15 December 2015

The Rip by Robert Drewe, Australia, 2008


This wonderful collection of thirteen short stories will intrigue and fascinate. The writing is beautiful, and Robert Drewe's obvious connection with the Australian landscape, especially the coastal landscape, is centre stage from the very first page. The descriptions appeal to all the senses; take, for example, the following lines from Masculine Shoes:


'… This sand was like crushed pearls. What excited him as the boat drew closer, however, was the dramatic potential of the ornately rooted pandanus palms, lawyer vines and shadowy eucalyptus poised on the edge of those pale sand-hills. The stark vegetation provided a sinister backdrop to the serenity of the shore. Winter storm tides had eaten into the dunes, and undermined trees lay toppled on the beach all along the high-water mark... '

or, from The Rip:

' … Smoke from an inland bushfire met a humid mist rolling in from the ocean in a haze of muted light across the beach. In the low snapping waves, seashells rattled and chinked like coins... '

At times, there is humour layered between the sadness of relationships gone wrong and the problems caused by misguided decisions. With most of the stories, there is no definite resolution, and yet they are stories that leave you thinking long after you have finished the last story and closed the book.

Image of Robert Drewe from www.nla.gov.au

01 December 2015

Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, 1997


When the reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station exploded on the 26th April 1986, I was living in Sweden. From the moment the Swedish authorities realized what had happened at Chernobyl, we were informed as to what had happened, what was likely to happen and, most importantly, the precautions that would have to be taken should the nuclear cloud move towards Scandinavia. In Soviet Russia there was evidently no such information; the people in charge did not want anyone to panic – there had been a small accident, an incident, but it was being taken care of; there was definitely nothing to worry about.


The men sent to the station to clean up were not given proper protective clothing (otherwise they would have suspected that something was wrong); people were not given the necessary medications nor were they told that they could not to eat the produce from their farms (for the same reason). Evacuations were eventually undertaken, but the uninformed evacuees took belongings and food with them, and only a handful of people were aware of the enormity of the situation. The tragedy of Chernobyl was a mixture of both ignorance and obedience to the Party. No one could see the radiation - the crops looked the same as they always had – and no one could understand what all the fuss was about, not until they began to get sick and die, but by then it was already too late.

Photo of Svetlana from sverigesradio.se

Voices from Chernobyl is a series of monologues by survivors of the catastrophe. Many of them are dying; most of them have at least one close relative who has already died. Svetlana Alexievich's presentation is both beautiful and heart-wrenching without descending into sentimentality. While the voices describe what happened, they also, almost unintentionally, contain a warning as to what can happen when technology goes drastically wrong and people are kept completely in the dark.

Written by the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, Voices from Chernobyl is definitely worth reading.

17 November 2015

JFK The Smoking Gun by Colin McLaren, Australia, 2013


When asked 'Who killed John Fitzgerald Kennedy on the 22nd November 1963?' most people would instantly reply 'Lee Harvey Oswald.' There would be some who would refer to a complicated conspiracy theory involving any one (or perhaps a combination) of the following: the CIA, Soviet Russia, the Mafia, the Vice President, Cuba... but, in the main, the answer would be Lee Harvey Oswald.


Yet, according to McLaren, it is almost certain that Harvey did not kill the president. He shot him, but he did not fire the bullet that killed him.

Colin McLaren, a retired Australian Detective Sergeant and a Task Force Team Leader, spent almost five years researching the death of the president and writing his book. He not only visited the site of the killing, he also pored over the results of ballistic expert Howard Donohue's 25-year study into the bullets that were used. As well, he read the thousands of pages comprising the Warren Report – an account of the Warren Commission's months' long attempt to uncover the truth. Sometimes, however, there are people who do not want the truth uncovered, and this was most obviously the case with the killing of JFK. Of course, not all people agree with McLaren's findings; however, it is refreshing with a different, highly possible, perspective on a fifty-year-old assassination.

According to McLaren, the conspiracy was not to kill the president but to conceal who had actually killed him. The killing itself was a horrible accident. Should the perpetrator's name have come to light, it was an accident that could have had devastating consequences for a certain group of people and, by extension, America herself.

JFK The Smoking Gun is interesting and the facts are presented in a balanced manner – McLaren is not taking sides, but he is trying to uncover the truth. The truth, exposed as it is in the pages of McLaren's book, is heartbreakingly simple.

This is a book that will appeal first and foremost to those people who can remember where they were the day that JFK died. They are the people who were caught up in the disbelief and, later, in the host of conspiracy theories. The book should, however, also have appeal for the generations since 1963 – generations that have had to rely on books and films (many based on dubious conspiracy theories) for some kind of understanding of the death of the 35th President of the United States. A book well worth reading.

03 November 2015

Paganinikontraktet by Lars Kepler, Sweden, 2010


Lars Kepler is the pen name used by the two Swedish writers Alexander Ahndoril and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril, who together have written about five books. Paganinikontraktet or, in English The Paganini Contract, is the second book with the Finnish Detective Inspector Joona Linna at its centre. It is a well written, extremely suspenseful thriller with a scope that includes everything from political and international intrigue, professional assassins, high-speed police chases, arson, unexplained deaths and a terrifying, unbreakable thread that slowly emerges as the common denominator tying everything together.

According to legend, Paganini entered a contract with the devil where he sold his soul in order to realize his greatest wish: to be able to play the violin better than anyone else. Those caught up in the modern-day version of this contract are forced to reveal both their greatest wish and their greatest nightmare. In the end, both become intertwined with unbelievably tragic results.

The background of the novel is Stockholm, but place is not as important as the characters and the situations in the story. The pace is fast with the book broken up into short chapters, most of them ending with a hook or a question mark. It is  a book that demands to be read in one sitting, although at almost 570 pages this could be a bit of an ask. The criminal side of the book is extremely well researched and intelligently described; the story is built up in logical steps, and although it may at times stretch reality to its most extreme limits it is always feasible. Moreover, the criminal side of the story is beautifully balanced by descriptions of music that could only come from someone who is well versed in both musical performance and theory.

 Photo of the authors from www.bonnier.com

Exploring both the dark world of the criminal mind as well as the longing associated with beauty and music, this novel is by no means a run-of-the-mill detective story. It is definitely worth reading.

20 October 2015

The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, UK, 2010



The first word that comes to me is overwhelming, and the word stays there for quite some time, blocking out almost everything else. Eventually, I get my thoughts together: the book is beautifully written, and the research is (well, there's that word again… ).

Photo of de Waal from www.bbc.com
 
The overwhelming bit is not only the research, it is also the long list of artists and writers and royalty and famous people who not only rubbed shoulders with de Waal's ancestors but were also important parts of their lives. At times, especially in the beginning, it all becomes too much. I really wondered if I was interested in hearing about de Waal's relatives in such a detailed manner.

However, at the same time, it was very interesting to be given such personal perspectives on historical periods and people who are so intimately connected with all the different art and literature movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the book moves on and the characters become more and more entwined with the history of the period, it becomes more engaging and more readable. The name-dropping begins to make more sense, and I even find that I am more sympathetically inclined towards some of the characters.


It is an amazing picture of that period of our history.

The hare with amber eyes of the title is a netsuke, one of 624. Netsuke are very small Japanese sculptures, usually rounded, that were first created in the seventeenth century. As Japanese dress of the time had no pockets, people would hang a small container on a cord from the sash of the garment, and the netsuke were used to loop through the cord and fasten it to the sash. Eventually, they became less necessary from a practical point of view and more treasured as a collector's item.

Although de Waal uses this particular netsuke as an anchoring point for the book, the book is all about collection: netsuke, small things, big things, people…

Towards the end of the book, de Waal writes (possibly paraphrasing Proust, who was one of the many literary figures in the book): “Even when one is no longer attached to things, it's still something to have been attached to them; because it was always for reasons which other people didn't grasp… “ (pp.346-347) and, finally, almost at the end of the book, he writes: “ It is not just things that carry stories with them, stories are a kind of thing too. Stories and objects share something, a patina.” (p.349).

At first glance, the book may appear to be about things, but it is actually about people and how people and things and stories are all inscrutably woven together to create that which we call life.

06 October 2015

Hus vid världens ände by Åke Edwardson, Sweden, 2012



Although a number of books in Edwardson's Inspector Erik Winter series have been translated to English, I do not believe that Hus vid världens ände (The House at the End of the World) has yet been translated. Like all the other books in the series, it is set in Sweden's second-largest city, Gothenburg and revolves around Erik Winter, a drinker of good whisky and a lover of the American jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.


The background is detailed and accurately painted: anyone with any knowledge of Gothenburg can easily recognize the streets and the buildings, visualize the parks, smell the markets. In this book, Winter spends some of his time in Costa del Sol, Spain, and it is obvious that Edwardson has walked the same streets that Winter walks and that he has seen the same buildings and felt the same sun on his face.

There were not supposed to be any more books in the series; the last book (Den sista vintern or The Last Winter), published 2008, was to have been just that – the last book. But now Winter is back, unable to tear himself away from the job of solving crime. A couple of his more ambitious colleagues may have possibly wished that he had stayed away; yet, in the end, they are all able, if begrudgingly, to appreciate both his expertise and his experience.

Photo of Edwardsson from www.dn.se
 
The crime – the gruesome slaying of three people – hits the reader in the very first pages of the book. There seems to be no motive and very few clues; suspects are pulled in for questioning; the reader sides first with one possible theory and then with another. There are so many possibilities – anyone could have done it.

As well as being able to present credible characters with both strength and weaknesses, Edwardson also has the ability to create, and then build on, suspense, letting drop very small clues, while subtly offering several different scenarios. This book, like all the ones that have gone before it, is intelligently and carefully written; the reader knows that the all the small pieces of the puzzle will eventually reveal the answer – there will be no completely unattached surprises at the end of the book.

If you are interested in giving him a go, the first Erik Winter book in the series is Sun and Shadow. You may be pleasantly surprised.

29 September 2015

A Man's Got to Have a Hobby: Long Summers with My Dad, by William McInnes, Australia, 2005


McInnes looks back to the 1970s and 1980s when he was growing up in Queensland. The book, which is beautifully written, focuses on McInnes's parents (especially his father), his brother, his three sisters, his aunt and, of course, McInnes himself. It is a startlingly honest account with no attempt to soften the corners or to smudge out all those things that the passage of time has labelled unacceptable.

McInnes handles the vernacular with a delightful sense of ease, which gives the story a definite authenticity – nothing is forced; nothing jars. Nothing feels 'out of place' or uncomfortable. It is obvious that this is a language that McInnes fully understands.

The situations, as well as the relationships between the characters in the book, are skilfully described, and the book is speckled with a great deal of humour – in fact, there are many places where the term laugh-out-loud definitely applies.

  Photo of William McInnes from www.abc.net.au
As well as humour, there is also a sense of the serious and an astute understanding of the emotions that can often be hidden beneath the surface of any seemingly ludicrous situation. At no point, however, does the book descend into sentimentality. McInnes manages to convey the deep emotional links within a family as well as the extent to which those links can then stretch into the next generation and even beyond.

There is much in the book that will spark recognition, especially among readers who grew up in the same period or even earlier. It was a joy to read, and I highly recommend it.

15 September 2015

The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan, Australia, 2006


This is a brilliant but disturbing book, especially given all the political and media hype at the moment, regarding would-be terrorist activity and the need for draconian laws to stifle it.

Although beautifully written, the first part, set in a pole-dancing club, feels a little like the cold channel of deep water that has to be navigated before reaching the sandbank and the breakers beyond. Initially, I wondered at the need for such detail, which, at times, seems almost voyeuristic; however, I later realized that it was necessary in order to put the rest of the novel into perspective. There is also, I feel, a parallel between how the men at the club mindlessly gorge their senses on the semi-naked women and the way the general public are titillated by all the small details related to a suspected terrorist.

As we are told more and more of Gina's story, we realize that she is an ordinary person who, after a difficult start in life, is set on turning her life around. Like most of the characters in the book, she has ambition, but it is more genuine and more human. She looks on herself as a realist, but, as Flanagan notes: Realism is the embrace of disappointment, in order no longer to be disappointed. (p.9)

After the introduction in the Chairman's Lounge, fear is poured into the mix, and like when red ink is added to water everything gradually changes colour. Flanagan wrote: “People like fear. We all want to be frightened and we all want someone to tell us how to live…” (p.166) and, in the words of the ASIO character: “… unless they're terrified, they (the people) won't agree with what we do and why we do it… ” (p.272)  

The politicians, the media, the police, the security services all feed the people this fear, not only to keep the people where they want them but also to further their own careers – no one (except, perhaps, the policeman Nick Loukakis) gives any thought to the victim who is being sacrificed.

In the end, everyone is at fault: the politicians and the media for creating the situation and the public for not having the brains to be able to see through the deceit. The terrifying thing is that this is where we are at the moment, and no one seems to understand what is happening. Terrorism is a definite threat to present-day society, but when concocted threats are used for political and personal gain then one has to wonder who are the terrorists and whether or not there is any way of salvaging our society. 

Photo of Richard Flanagan from www.wheelercentre.com

01 September 2015

Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, Tokyo, 2013


Like all of the books by Murakimi that I have read so far, Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is captivating and intellectually stimulating. It is, however, somewhat different to, for example, IQ84 or Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. In both of these books, the imaginative or fantasy element is much stronger, while in Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage a small sliver of fantasy is book-ended between a large amount of reality.

In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki belongs to a close group of five friends; they do everything together, and, if any of the five were to make a guess about the future, he or she would doubtlessly assume that the five of them would always remain together. But then something happens. Tsukuru (whose name means colourless) is banished from the group without any explanation. He is devastated and depressed and contemplates suicide. Years later he meets Sara, who is astute enough to realize that Tsukuru must find out what happened all those years ago – until he can put the past behind him, he is unable to move on.

The book, beautifully written, follows Tsukuru as he peels back the layers of the past and discovers why he was cut off from the group. The process is not without pain and even regret, but, by the end, Tsukuru is able to move away from the idea of colourless to the other meaning of his name: to build.

Anyone who loves Murakami will love Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
Photo of Haruki Murakami from taiken.co


25 August 2015

The Consequences of Love by Sulaiman Addonia, UK, 2008



When I started reading this book, I was not sure where it was going, and I was not sure whether or not I was going to like it; however, after the first few chapters, I was completely drawn in.

The story concerns a refugee from Eritria, Naser, who is brought to Saudi Arabia by his uncle, who has been living in that country for a number of years. Ten-year-old Naser and his three-year-old brother leave behind them war-ridden Eritrea, but also the love of their mother and the other women in the camp where they had been living. In Saudi Arabia everything turns into a black-and-white film where the men are all dressed in white and the women are all hidden behind black abayas. Naser grows up in a world of men, learning that women are not only less worth than men but that they are also connected with everything that is evil. If a man deviates from the path to Allah then it is with all certainty because of a woman. The religious police use the threat of punishment and death to keep the sexes apart; Naser, who still has very fond memories of his mother, cannot understand why women must be hidden away.

Then he meets a woman, who we only know of as Fiore (flower), and his entire life changes.

As a social commentary, it is interesting and disturbing to see how the men, deprived of the love of women, enter into temporary homosexual relationships until the time when they eventually marry. The hypocrisy is at times quite sickening, and the hold of the imam over the general populace is unbelievable. Naser is brave enough to rebel against mediaeval rules and regulations where man is king and woman is an unfortunate necessity. The reason he is able to rebel is because he has discovered true love, something that most of his peers never really find.

It is understandable that many men who have grown up with such beliefs often continue to act in a similar manner, even after moving into other cultures, but understanding is one thing, acceptance is another. In order to change such deeply ingrained beliefs, it would be necessary to change the teaching of the imams or else give men in these countries the permission, the space and a reason to think for themselves.

That Sulaiman Addonia was himself a refugee with many experiences that paralleled those of Naser gives the story a greater depth and credibility. Definitely worth reading. 

Photo of Sulaiman Addonia from www.southbankcentre.co.uk

18 August 2015

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, Italy, 1980



Photo of Umberto Eco from www.italymagazine.com
In the blurb to the first Italian edition of the novel, Umberto Eco, a semiotician, wrote:
‘… this novel may perhaps be read in three ways. The first category of readers will be taken by the plot () and will accept even the long bookish discussions and the philosophical dialogues, because it will sense that the signs, the traces and the revelatory symptoms are nesting in those inattentive pages. The second category will be impassioned by the debate of ideas, and will attempt to establish connections (which the author refuses to authorize) with the present. The third will realize that this text is a textile of other texts, a whodunnit of quotations, a book built on books. 1

At some point in the novel, the main character, William, makes the observation that all books speak only of other books, and that no story is new because it has already been told; consequently, it makes sense that Eco regards The Name of the Rose as ‘a book built on books’, and it also makes sense that the library, with all its riddles and false promises, is at the heart of the mystery.

Although The Name of the Rose is a detective story set in an isolated monastery in the fourteenth century, it is not a light read, and the detective element - why are all these people dying, and who is killing them? - is merely the scaffolding on which Eco hangs many theological and philosophical questions and riddles.  I was fascinated by the title and eventually discovered that Eco had chosen the title because: the rose is a symbolic figure so rich in meanings that by now it hardly has any meaning left.’ 2

The Name of the Rose puts forward ideas, possibilities and clues, but, like the labyrinth of the library itself, nothing is perfectly clear, much is hidden, and, at the end of the book, William (the detective in the story) says: ‘… The order that our mind imagines is like a net, or a ladder, built to attain something. But afterward you must throw the ladder away, because you discover that, even if it was useful, it was meaningless… ’ 3 

 Even Adso, the novice monk travelling with William and the narrator of the story, looks at what he has written and wonders whether there is a hidden meaning (or several) somewhere among the pages, or whether perhaps there is no meaning at all.

The photo (taken from the film based on the book) is from www.theguardian.com
Apart from the suspense of the actual detective story, I feel that the reader is given a multitude of ideas that he/she can then take in whatever direction he/she wishes. As with the library, many of these directions will hit a wall without any opening, while others will follow complicated trails not previously considered. It is definitely a book than can, and probably should, be read more than once.

1 The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, Alfred A. Knopf, UK, 2006, Introduction, p.xiv
2 “Postscript to the Name of the Rose, The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, Harcourt, Inc., 1984 p.506
3 The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, Alfred A. Knopf, UK, 2006, p.550


04 August 2015

From 'The Latham Diaries' by Mark Latham


Mark Latham, leader of the Australian Labor Party from late 2003 to early 2005, was unconventional as a politician but, I feel, extremely sincere; he was never afraid to state the obvious. He made politicians on both sides of politics feel uncomfortable - something that is undoubtedly necessary if we are to achieve a more honest and trustworthy political system.

In 2005, he published The Latham Diaries, and the following is a quote he has included from Kelvin Thomson (page 139).

People can proclaim their compassion in the abstract as loudly as they like, but there is no such thing as humanity in the abstract, there are only people. If you treat people in your life with contempt, then your great compassion for humanity in the abstract does not mean a lot.

The photo of Mark Latham is from www.theage.com.au

Please note: There will be no blog post next week 11th August; the next book review will be on the 16th August.



29 July 2015

45 Days: Walking the Bibbulmun Track


Although I have no intention of reviewing my own book, I can tell you a bit about it.

45 Days: Walking the Bibbulmun Track, published on the 28th July by AoE Publishing, is an account of a Walk I did with my son Jonathan. The Walk, along the Bibbulmun Track in Western Australia, began in Albany and ended in Kalamunda, just outside of Perth.

The total distance walked was around one thousand kilometres.

We walked through all kinds of terrain and all kinds of weather, and, when we finally reached Kalamunda after 45 days, we would have been quite happy to turn around and walk back to Albany. The difficulties we met along the Track, including very bad weather, track diversions and, at times, actually losing the Track, paled when compared to the elation of being so much one with nature. The stillness and the silence were indescribable, and we later found it difficult to reconnect with the rush and bustle of civilization after so many weeks in isolation.

The book will soon be available from a range of online book retailers. For information about purchasing the book, you can visit my website.

21 July 2015

The Rings of My Tree: A Latvian Woman's Journey by Jane E. Cunningham



In parts harrowing, at all times honest, The Rings of My Tree not only sheds light on atrocities that, for many, have remained hidden for too long, it also gives an insight into the strength of the spirit and the power of optimism.


At the centre of the story is Mirdza, who, by 2004 (when the book was published), was an elderly lady living in America. Mirdza, like so many others, was forced to flee her country, Latvia, during World War II, and, after spending time in Germany, she was eventually accepted as a refugee by America. For many years, her story remained silent until her friend Jane Cunningham decided to give it life.

The story is written in the first person, and it is easy to imagine Mirdza sitting in her living room, relating her life story for Jane Cunningham, who is writing it all down, word for word.

The photo of Mirdza and Jane (taken in 2012) is from www.amazon.com

14 July 2015

Nine Lives Illustrated Playing Cards by Annette Abolins

This week I decided that instead of a book review I would post some information about Annette's Nine Lives Illustrated Playing Cards.

Many of you would already be familiar with Annette's Nine Lives Tarot Cards, which have proven to be astoundingly successful. The playing cards - or, at least, the royal cards in each suite - are based on the same images as she used in the tarot cards. The design work is exceptional, and the cards themselves are beautifully printed and presented.

On both her blogs (links above), Annette has posted a lot of very interesting information about the creation of her cards as well as information about tarot cards and playing cards in general. Both these sites are definitely worth a visit.


07 July 2015

The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville, Australia, 1999



I really enjoyed this book. In essence it is about everyday life where nothing much happens; yet it is also about all those important 'nothings' that together make up life as we know it.

Beautifully written, The Idea of Perfection is set in a small country town called Karakarook, situated somewhere in NSW, Australia. The people are the ordinary people one would expect to meet in such an environment. The town is definitely not perfect, and the people living there are not perfect either. In fact, no one and nothing is perfect, and yet everyone – even the town – is striving, on some level, for perfection.
 
The story concerns an old timber bridge that is slowly rotting away. The powers that be in Sydney have decided that the bridge should be replaced; the town's heritage society, intent on saving all things old, wants to save the bridge as it is. Douglas is the engineer sent from Sydney to do something about the bridge (preferably pull it down and build a new one). Harley is a part-time consultant at the Sydney Museum of Applied Arts, who finds herself in Karakarook setting up the Karakarook Heritage Museum, and who gradually becomes entangled in the controversy over the bridge.

Both the two main characters, Douglas and Harley, have pasts that forcibly impact on their ideas of perfection, until they reach a point where they are able to put their pasts behind them.

One of the other characters, Felicity, is focused almost entirely on attaining superficial personal perfection, while Freddy, the Chinese butcher, oozing self-confidence and sex drive, believes that he has already found it. Douglas, on the other hand, may lack Freddy's self-confidence, and he may be hampered by the past, but he does have an intuitive understanding of perfection. Even Harley, large, rough and 'unbeautiful', has this understanding.

In the end, it appears that perfection is the complete antithesis to what Felicity is searching for in her jars of creams and moisturizers. Instead, it is tied up with intangible things like the unadulterated love Harley received from her grandmother, Douglas's ability to completely prioritize another person's needs over his own innate fears and, finally, the recognition of the innocent part a patient dog can play in helping someone understand the essence of life itself. Things that appear broken are not necessarily imperfect – it is all a matter of perspective and a willingness to try new tangents. Perfection may not necessarily be an attainable reality, it may simply be an idea.

The photo of Kate Grenville is from www.abc.net.au

30 June 2015

We are all completely beside ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler, USA, 2013


At the very beginning of the book, we learn that Rosemary (the 'I' of the book) has an older brother and sister and that both of them have disappeared. Immediately, our attention is caught: What happened? Where are they? Why has Rosemary been left on her own?

The book does not follow any chronological plan but, instead, begins somewhere around the middle, dives back to somewhere near the beginning, weaves its way towards the end and then, once again, swings back to the beginning, before finally catching all the threads and tying them together. This hopping between different time periods is handled skilfully and does not impact negatively on the story; in fact, it simply emphasizes the suspense.

This is a family where the father, a psychologist, uses his children as research objects; he is not a wicked man, and yet his too-narrow focus ends up having disastrous results on all those around him. Fowler (whose own father was a psychologist) draws on her experience, her extensive reading and her imagination to create complicated situations with, in many cases, a variety of conflicting ethical, moral and social perspectives.

                                 The photo of Karen Joy Fowler is from www.wheelercentre.com 


Wonderfully researched and beautifully written - We are all completely beside ourselves was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014 - it is an intelligent, well planned book. In parts it is humorous; in others it is deeply moving. It sheds much light on both our humanity and our inhumanity and leaves us wondering what it actually means to be human. 

24 June 2015

Newsletter


I know that many of you who read my blog also follow my Newsletter, but I also know that there are many who know nothing at all about the Newsletter, so I thought I would mention it in this post.

The Newsletter is published twice a month (the next Newsletter will be published on the 7th July) and covers a number of different topics: books, vegetarian cooking, hiking, gardens and, at the moment, a course in numerology. Once a month, there is a giveaway - a book or a piece of art - and all subscribers are automatically part of the draw.

In order to read the Newsletter (and be eligible for giveaways), you must be a subscriber. There is a subscription option to the left of this post (type in your email address and then click on subscribe); otherwise you can find more information, together with a subscription option, on my website. It is extremely easy to subscribe and, should you later change your mind, just as easy to unsubscribe.

As they say: Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and you are more than welcome to subscribe.