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Squirrels! You’ve gotta love them. Peter Wohlleben’s new book, The Inner Life of Animals, starts off by talking about squirrels. It’s a hot summer day and the author is in the garden with his children when a rusty-red squirrel comes bounding across the lawn. The family is delighted to see this furry friend in their yard. But the delight turns to dismay as the squirrel promptly keels over on its side. They peer closer, only to find a large lump on its neck. Maybe it has an infectious disease? The squirrel rose to stagger a few steps towards the pool, only to keel over once more. As Peter was about to bundle his children into the house, they realised that the lump on the squirrel’s neck was a ruff of fur. It was a baby hanging on tightly. But it was hanging on so tightly that it was asphyxiating its mother. Combined with the heat, this poor mummy squirrel could hardly summon the energy, or take in the oxygen, to walk to the pool.
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Archive Discoveries

  • LUCY DURNEEN lectures in creative writing in Plymouth, England, and is the assistant editor of the literary journal Short Fiction. We asked her about the apparent resurgence of interest in short stories, her beginnings as a writer, and the blending of realism and fantasy in the stories in her new collection, Wild Gestures. Read on >
  • JANINE
 BURKE is an
 Australian
art historian,
author,
biographer,
photographer and
award-winning novelist.
Her latest book, Kiffy Rubbo,
which she has co-edited with Helen Hughes, collects contributions 
from leading figures in the artistic community that all focus on the dynamic figure of Kiffy Rubbo (1944-80), a pioneering curator
in Melbourne in the 1970s. We asked Janine to tell us about this new book and the books that have shaped her life. Read on >
  • The mystery surrounding Agatha Christie’s 1926 disappearance provided the inspiration for On the Blue Train, the second novel of US-based Australian author KRISTEL THORNELL. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN how her research led her to parts of England where the celebrated mystery author lived – and to the North Yorkshire hotel wher she spent jer 'lost' days. Read on >
  • Ed Yong – science reporter for The Atlantic and blogger for National Geographic – has just published his first book, I Contain Multitudes: The microbes within us and a grander view of life. We asked him to tell us about his reading life.   What are you
reading now?
 Patient H.M. by 
Luke Dittrich, because 
my editor for my own 
book sent me a galley
 copy! I’m glad she
 did. Henry Molaison 
was arguably the most
influential patient in
all of neuroscience.
 After an operation to
cure his epilepsy, he lost the ability to form new memories – think Memento – and so taught us much about how our memories work. Dittrich is the grandson of the surgeon who operated on Molaison, and he brings a deeply personal flavor to the incisive reporting and colourful writing that characterise this book. What are your three favourite books?
 The Song of the Dodo: Island biogeography in the age of extinctions by David Quammen is natural history writing at its finest – a witty, insightful tour of the planet’s islands and what they tell us about our increasingly fragmented world. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell offers genre-hopping stories but delivers a deep fable about hope and nihilism; I stared silently out a window for the longest time when I finished 
it. Being Wrong: Adventures in the margin of error by Kathryn Schulz is a wondrous study of human error that blends literature, science and philosophy. Read on >
  • Australian historical novelist Pamela Hart tells us about her latest novel, A Letter From Italy, and Australia's first female war correspondent.  Read on >
  • Creativity is often thought of as a special gift bestowed on only a handful of lucky people. But as Australian novelist SUE WOOLFE points out, it’s a skill that you can cultivate. Here are five tips she used to create her latest collection of stories, Do You Love Me or What? Read on >
  • ABC journalist and science writer IAN TOWNSEND cut his teeth as a novelist in 2007 with Affection, which told the story of a plague outbreak in 1900. His next novel, The Devil’s Eye, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2009. Now with Line of Fire, he turns his pen to narrative non-fiction to tell the story of Richard Manson, an 11-year-old boy who was accused of espionage and shot by the Japanese during World War II in New Guinea. Read on >
  • Paul Mitchell is a poet, short story writer, and now a novelist with the release of We. Are. Family. Read on to find out about Paul's poetry, writing, and the way he explores family trauma and masculinity in Australia.  Read on >
  • Meet the author who won the ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year 2015, and find out about her latest title, The Art of Keeping Secrets. Read on >
  • Marine biologist SHANNON LEONE FOWLER was embracing her fiancé, Sean, in the ocean off the coast of Thailand when a box jellyfish stung and killed him.Thai authorities tried to dismiss his death as a drunk drowning. Traveling with Ghosts follows the months Shannon spent on a strange trajectory through Eastern Europe, fleeing from the ocean and from grief. She tells us how her memoir came to be, 14 years after Sean’s death. Read on >
  • RITU MENON loves to travel and she loves to sample the local fare of the places her journeys take her to.Her new book, Loitering with Intent: Diary of a happy traveller, is derived from over a decade of travel journal writing. Here she recounts how she came to write the book and recalls a couple of fabulous Italian feasts. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • The Life to Come is the sixth novel by Michelle de Kretser, whose books The Lost Dog and Questions of Travel won a host of awards and caused a stir in the publishing world. I expect The Life to Come will be just as well received. Read on >

  • I enjoyed the variety of emotions and the rich imagery in Aman’s anthology. Read on >

  • The story begins in 1987 when Nat – the third wheel in a trio of teenage misfits – is pressured into participating in a séance with her friends. The girls attempt to invoke the spirit of bushranger Ned Kelly. But, unwittingly, they instead call forth Edward Kelley, an Elizabethan scryer and alchemist who worked with Dr John Dee, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I. What follows is a tale of possession that spans three timelines – Edward Kelley and John Dee in 1587, Nat and her friends in 1987, and Nat’s son, Jo, in 2087 – that are all linked by that fateful night. Read on >

  • Bridget Crack, an assured debut from a new Tasmanian voice, is an intriguing and insightful look at life through the eyes of a female convict in 1820s Van Diemen’s Land. Read on >

  • Vivid but flawed characters – such as stewards, soldiers, aristocrats and priests – rise from the page. The chapters are interspersed with insightful extracts from Lady Anne’s journal, which touches on topics such as the degradation of women, class inequality and conflicting moral and ethical viewpoints on religion. This renowned crime writer has shifted to historical fiction without faltering. Read on >

  • Meredith Jaffé’s intricate exploration of relationships and the revelation of the full impact of toxic encounters is enthralling. Jaffé doesn’t let you off the hook easily, and after the climax she brings the loss and bitterness of these broken relationships back to everyday existence and examines how her characters carry on. I couldn’t put it down. Read on >

  • The lovely thing about this book is that it’s simply written in diary form, just like a child would. And the illustrations are so lifelike and complement the text beautifully. The long boat trip and the excitement of being in a new country are told in such a positive way that children reading this book will understand a little of what it was like to leave a homeland and start again in a new country. What a wonderful way to learn our history. Read on >

  • This stunning book, with its sumptuous illustrations on every page, will draw you in and bring the mysterious story of Tutankhamun to life. It will fascinate all children and adults who have ever wanted to visit Egypt and sail down the Nile. Read on >

  • If you’re a fan of Pig the Pug then you’ll love Aaron Blabey’s latest laugh-out-loud story, Pig and his long-suffering friend, Trevor, are dressing up for a photo shoot. As you can imagine, Pig has to be the centre of attention, hogging all the best costumes while poor Trevor looks on. But, as usual, Pig’s dreadful antics get him into big trouble. Maybe he won’t be such a show-off from now on. Read on >

  • Just imagine if ‘Mum went out to buy a new pair of gumboots, but came home with a rabbit’. In this book, The Great Rabbit Chase by Freya Blackwood, she did. And guess what he’s called? Gumboots. Gumboots is so soft and cuddly, but he’s also so good at escaping. And if you have a long rabbit hole to escape into and out of, then a runaway rabbit is hard to catch. I love this great rabbit chase, as Freya Blackwood has the whole town joining in, and her delightfully detailed artwork helps to tell the story. And if you like surprises then there’s a great big one at the end. Read on >

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