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The benefits of reading aloud to children are well known, but this simple pleasure was one once enjoyed by a majority of adults. In his book To Read Aloud, Italian author FRANCESCO DIMITRI encourages us to rediscover this enjoyable pastime with short extracts from 75 books, organised by themes such as change, loss and wonder, each with an estimated time to read. In the first of a series of three extracts, we explore the theme of chaos. Pull up a chair with somebody you care about and share the pleasure of reading aloud.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • 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 >
  • The BBC released a survey earlier this year in which they asked readers to name the books they had lied about having read. You can see the list below. I think I have read around half, as some I may have read in my youth that I’ve forgotten about (more about that later). How many of them have you read? The truth, please! 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 >
  • 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 >
  • Kit, only 19 years old, works for Shen Corporation
as a phenomenaut – a person who projects their consciousness into the bodies of animals bred for research purposes. This is the strange and intriguing premise of The Many Selves of Katherine North. ANGUS DALTON puts some questions to EMMA GEEN, author of this new novel. Read on >
  • The Sound, the second book from novelist SARAH DRUMMOND, is set around Western Australia’s King George
Sound. Based on a true story, the novel tells of Wiremu Heke, a Maori man from across the Tasman who sails from Tasmania to WA in 1825 on a mission of vengeance. We asked Sarah to tell us about Wiremu and about The Sound. Read on >
  • Who would have thought that in the largely homogeneous country of China that there could be a group of people who could trace their lineage back to invading Romans? TONY GREY uncovered this intriguing bit of information while travelling in China, and here he tells how he came to write his historical novel, The Tortoise in Asia, which tells the story of Romans travelling along the Silk Road in ancient times. Read on >
  • After reading a few thrillers lately I got to thinking about writers in the crime and thriller genres and the research they need to do to make their books seem real. Research can be an exciting part of writing any book. Determining how a killer might think and how their victim could become entrapped is one thing, but I can’t imagine looking at dead people or reading detailed reports of the methods that serial killers use to stalk and murder their prey.That’s the sort of awful stuff police deal with and psychologically struggle with for the rest of their lives. But could even researching this sort of thing affect a writer?  Read on >
  • PEPPER HARDING is the pen name of a writer from San Francisco. The Heart of Henry Quantum, Pepper’s new novel, follows a scatterbrained husband’s erratic journey through the streets of San Francisco as he hunts down his wife’s Christmas present – a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Along the way he runs into his former lover, Daisy. We asked the author about his new novel and the eccentric thought journeys that appears throughout its pages. Read on >
  • This first foray into crime fiction by Australian author Melina Marchetta, best known for her award-winning fiction for young adults, is a cracking read.   Read on >
  • RICHARD ROXBURGH has been extraordinarily versatile over the
decades of his acting career. The Albury-born actor has played both Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, appeared as Count Dracula in the 2004 movie Van Helsing and played the lead role in Rake, a TV show he co-created. But he’s just as talented
on the page as he is on screen and stage; Roxburgh has written and illustrated a new kids’ book, Artie and the Grime Wave. We asked him about his influences and what lead him to this new project. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This story is dedicated to the Syrian people and to all refugees. Meeting the characters has increased my awareness of, and empathy for, the violence and injustice refugees face in their search for safety. Sensual descriptions of exotic foods and different landscapes, and thought-provoking philosophy increase the pleasure of this tale of courage and hope. Read on >

  • The tragic collapse of the West Gate Bridge during its construction in the 1970s killed 35 workers, many of whom were migrants. It was a tragedy that could have been avoided if the engineers and bosses of the construction team had had a greater focus on safety. Read on >

  • In a leafy and affluent area of Sheffield, two sets of neighbours meet over a back garden fence while one party is hosting a family barbeque. They are unalike in many ways - the Spinster family is white and English, and the Sharifullahs are from Bangladesh – but both have sprawling families, domestic worries and professional concerns. And both families are haunted by their histories – the Spinsters by decades of marital disharmony, and the Sharifullahs by the atrocities they encountered during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in the 1970s. Read on >

  • Swan Song is based on 10 years’ research and it is brilliantly executed, with its multiple narrative threads and parallel time frames. It reads like a grand tragedy or, more precisely, a series of grand tragedies. However, the self-indulgent Capote soon becomes tiresome, as do the tales of gossip and pretence, and Swan Song becomes a chorus of denial and woe, its technical brilliance overshadowed by its subjects. Read on >

  • Cormac McCarthy springs to mind as an influence on this debut novel; his spare, harsh and uncompromising style is evident in every word. It is set in outback Queensland, and the atrocities detailed within strike right at the heart of Australia’s uneasy relationship with its own colonial history. Read on >

  • Flames is a slim book but it is an extremely evocative and imaginative work that builds the natural landscape into its narrative as a character in its own right. If there is a weakness, it may be that there is too much happening, too many details mutating inexplicably into others. That said, the richness of the imagery and the strange winding narrative that intertwines flight and flame, is undeniably powerful and it is refreshing to see the Australian landscape written about so vividly. Read on >

  • Take a couple of feisty young women born a century apart, add a dedicated naturalist, mix in a mysterious antipodean creature hailed as a hoax by the learned men of English science, and you have an historical romance set in Australia and England. Read on >

  • This is a well-written and considered novel, and enjoyable, however, there is so much going on that I felt that there were opportunities lost to know more about the major characters, to explore the potential of their relationship, and to explore in more depth their professions. Read on >

  • The Neighborhood is being marketed as a detective thriller, but this is a misleading description and perhaps creates a false impression about the novel. Read on >

  • It's 1942 and Eleanor Roy works for the Ministry of Food, arranging paintings and murals for the walls of Britain’s restaurants, bolstering hope during WWII. She lives with her sister, Cecily, a nurse recovering from losing her boyfriend in combat. On an expedition to convince artists to sign up to the program, she meets Jack Valante who, unlike the others clamouring to be paid for their passion at such a bleak time, refuses to enter into a contract. Read on >

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The Paris Collaborator