Why we need… The Power / Naomi Alderman

I’m tidying up this review from a jumble of notes scrawled while listening to the audiobook edition of The Power. More often than not, I post reviews after a significant procrastination mulling-over period. In this case, I couldn’t remember the last time I was so utterly, maddeningly in awe of a work. The premise of…

Woman with her throat cut: Musing on Final Portrait

An interesting thing happened during the Sydney Film Festival today. So, it’s a screening of Final Portrait, a bio-pic of Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, starring Geoffrey rush. It’s a glorious film set in 1960s Paris, in monochromatic artist dwellings the same clay hues as the raw material worked by Giacometti himself. Directed by Stanley Tucci,…

I adore thee: Hag-Seed / Margaret Atwood

On the rare occasion, a book sends you reeling, completely potent with possibility and a narrative that transcends the ordinary. I’ve been a fan (nigh-on Misery-level) of Margaret Atwood after reading The Handmaid’s Tale. Since then, many of her books have become all-time favourites, including the incredible Maddadam trilogy. In both of those works, Atwood mastered uniquely…

In defence of reading genre: What Dark Clouds Hide / Anne Holt

I’m guilty of book-snobbery. My guilty genre of choice is that mysterious beast known as Scandinavian or Nordic noir. Brooding, complex, ambivalent, gritty, cold and psychologically challenging, it has all the hallmarks I love to read. Scandi-noir is notably less concerned with following a crime procedural formula. Characters in these books are flawed, and the…

Review: The North Water / Ian McGuire

The North Water is a book I suspect I’m not meant to have enjoyed. For one, it’s undeniably ‘masculine’: a miasma of semen, blood and sweat. The only women in it are whores, largely unnamed background characters that function as little more than orifices for rent. It is also a book about whaling. And I’m…

Review: See What I Have Done / Sarah Schmidt

I saw the ink-bled pigeon on the cover; it was beautiful. I heard the title; I was intrigued. When I discovered the story was about an infamous slaying, I couldn’t not read it. I must admit my approach to Australian author Sarah Schmidt’s chilling debut See What I Have Done was tinted with classic writer’s…

Musing: Nest / Inga Simpson

This is less a review than a musing on Nest (by Inga Simpson, originally pub’d 2014 – yes, I’m always late to the show). Listening to the audiobook in January, I realised how fascinating it is to hear the author of a book narrate their own work. Authors understand their work like no other person can, including…

Review: Fun Home / Alison Bechdel

It was Tolstoy who famously opened Anna Karenina with a line about all unhappy families being unhappy in their own way. To depict this in your own family must be a confronting task. Doing it well in a graphic novel means to bare the twisted, intimate details of your life, in a self-conscious visual medium…

Mini Review: These Are the Names / Tommy Wieringa

Sometimes a book finds its way into your hands and you never quite know what to make of it. Dutch author Tommy Wieringa’s These are the Names is devastating and evocative despite – or perhaps because of – its eerily sparse writing. The novel’s dual narratives concern Pontus Beg, an aging police commissioner in the…

Mini review: The Fisherman / John Langan

Highly underrated and overlooked, The Fisherman is one of those chance treasures I am grateful to have forcibly thrust upon me by fellow reader friends. Having not read horror for some time – because it often feels like a guilty pleasure, I was intrigued to find this was a kind of literary horror that straddles…