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Mark Brandi’s Wimmera raked in several accolades before even being published, including the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger. Set in a rural Australian town, the story follows two best friends, Ben and Fab, who are about to start high school. Over the holidays, a girl was found hanged from a clothesline, and another group of boys find a garbage bin tossed into the river with its lid nailed shut. A strange, huge man moves into the house where the girl died. The boys try to distract themselves from the weird events by yabbying and playing cricket – but it’s impossible to ignore the sinister undercurrent running through the town. We asked Mark, who used to work in Victoria’s Department of Justice, about how Wimmera came to be.
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Archive Discoveries

  • Best known for his role as a team captain on ABC TV’s Spicks and Specks, ALAN BROUGH has also worked as a radio presenter,
actor and stand- up comedian. In the 1990s he also appeared in a series of TV commercials as a drag queen called Marge. He had always wanted to write, and now he has fulfilled that ambition with his new children’s book, Charlie and the War Against the Grannies. He tells us about the books that have made him the reader and writer that he is today. Read on >
  • While researching for a non-fiction book about the botanical history of some of the world’s most popular alcoholic drinks, US author AMY STEWART stumbled across a gin smuggler’s altercation with an officious woman named Constance Kopp. This discovery catalysed her historical crime-fiction series, set in New Jersey in 1915, based on Constance and her two sisters. As the second instalment in the series, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, is released, ANGUS DALTON finds out more. Read on >
  • Born in London, retired doctor TONY ATKINSON spent the first years of his life in a cage dangling out of a window. But he went on to serve the Queen and Winston Churchill during his early career as a footman and waiter, which he recalls in hilarious stories in he memoir, A Prescribed Life. Read on >
  • This book might have the word ‘tax’ in its title, but don’t let that dreary term fool you. The Great Multinational Tax Rort tells the intriguing tale of how, for decades, multinational corporations have been slithering out of their obligations to pay their fair share of tax, leaving governments with shrinking funds to pay for essential services for their citizens. In this extract, MARTIN FEIL, also the author of The Failure of Free-Market Economics, outlines some of the techniques these business behemoths use to cunningly avoid paying tax – leaving us all the poorer. Read on >
  • UK journalist and editor MARINA BENJAMIN looks at the joys, losses and opportunities of middle age in her new book, The Middlepause. In this extract she writes about the secret misogynistic history of HRT.   Read on >
  • Best known to TV audiences as Goliath fromthequiz show The Chase, MATT PARKINSON was also one half of the Empty Pockets comedy duo. He cleaned up as a champion on Sale of the Century in the 1990s and since then he has served as the brains trust on ABC TV’s The Einstein Factor. We asked this big man (he’s nearly two metres tall) with a big brain about the books that have made him the brainiac that he is.  Read on >
  • Communicating the most exciting new developments in science to non-scientific readers can be a challenge. But Know This: Today’s most interesting and important scientific ideas, discoveries, and developments, takes up the challenge and lets dozens of eminent scientists tell us what they think are the most interesting recent developments in science. Here are two extracts from the book. Read on >
  • Alison Evans is a genderqueer writer, lover of bad movies, and co-founder of the zine Concrete Queers. Here Alison tells us about her new spec-fic novel, Ida, and non-binary identities in YA fiction. Read on >
  • JOHN KINSELLA is the author of 30 books and is the three-time winner of the WA Premier's Book Award for Poetry. He's a fellow at Cambridge's Churchill college and the editor of international literary journal Salt. The self-described vegan/anarchist/pacifist tells Good Reading asked him about his new short story collection, Old Growth.   Read on >
  • Sydney-based novelist LAUREN SAMS, author of She’s Having Her Baby, has worked for magazines such as Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan. Her new book, Crazy Busy Guilty, reprises the heroine Georgie Henderson, who tries frantically to juggle work and family. We spoke recently with Lauren, who talked about the US election, writer’s block and wacky parenting strategies.  Read on >
  • I switched on to watch ABC TV’s The Drum one evening and discovered Jodi Picoult sitting on the panel discussion.What a great performer she is – not only an impressive writer but also an impressive speaker.The discussion at the table was raging around whether a white author has the right, or could even have the understanding, to write about black characters. As a white woman, how could she really know what’s it’s like to be a black woman, let alone a black man? How could she write black characters and make them authentic without knowing how they feel? Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • He’s had a university, a lake, a bank and much more named after him. But Lachlan Macquarie, the fifth governor of the colony of New South Wales, is  an equivocal figure who seems to have been forgotten in recent years. Author MICHAEL SEDUNARY set out to dig up the old chap and take another look at him in his new book, The Startling Story of Lachlan Macquarie. Read on >

  • This superb novel is beautifully written, thought-provoking and a truly magical door to the minds and experiences of those who seem very different but who are, as we discover, just like us. Read on >

  • Next time you use your smartphone camera to snap a cute baby, a glorious sunset or – quelle horreur! – a selfie, take a moment to think about Louis Daguerre, one of the founding fathers of photography. This novel, a mix of history and imagination, takes the reader to Paris in the first half of the 19th century. Read on >

  • Whether you’re a fan of historical fiction, or just looking for something different, give Beauty in Thorns a go. Read on >

  • In a world where the power of the media and other traditional establishments is being weakened by ‘disruption’ and ‘innovation’, where clickbait articles about celebrities generate hits while corruption or secret deals go unreported, Orwell’s vision feel as fresh and relevant today as when he was writing in the mid-1940s. Read this and then re-read Nineteen Eighty-Four. Read on >

  • If I had to sum up Hinterland in a couple of words, I would describe it as uniquely Australian. Steven Lang paints a vivid Australia of scorching landscapes and curious, eclectic characters shaped by diverse experiences. He cleverly explores the power that place has over people’s lives, embedding personal stories with descriptions of cities, landscapes and streets. Through this little town he manages to explore a large, diverse Australia. Read on >

  • Adrian Goldsworthy is a respected ancient historian and also the author of the very entertaining ‘Napoleonic Wars’ series, which started with True Soldier Gentlemen. Vindolanda draws on his expertise in Roman military history and, in particular, on the fabulous find of hundreds of everyday letters, written on thin, postcard-sized pieces of wood in the late first century CE. These priceless documents have been excavated in the eponymous Roman fort in the vicinity of what became Hadrian’s Wall. Read on >

  • The Last Garden is beautifully written and will doubtless evoke a quiet fascination in the discerning reader, provided they don’t expect much action or resolution in the narrative. Read on >

  • Being a book reviewer can be a tough life because reviews, like the books on which they are based, attract varying levels of invective and approval. Author David Free, himself a reviewer, has written a novel about a book reviewer at the centre of a murder investigation. Read on >

  • Anyone who has ever visited the Argyle Diamond Mine in the eastern Kimberley region of Western Australia, or flown over it on the way from Kununurra to the Purnululu National Park (formerly known as the Bungle Bungles), will be fascinated by this novel. Read on >

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