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He lies like an eyewitness.’ The epigraph to AOIFE CLIFFORD’s new crime novel, Second Sight, embodies deceit and subjectivity at its centre. Memory is treated as a construct, a fond hope, even a lie. Established truths are challenged and reassessed, and what we as readers assume to be the case is regularly and skilfully overturned. EMMA HARVEY tells us more.      
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • The rugged beauty of England’s Lake District looms large in the latest psychological thriller by Perth-based author SARA FOSTER. She shares her passion for the natural world and her concerns about the potential impacts of electronic media with MAUREEN EPPEN. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • Perth crime writer David Whish-Wilson reveals how the history of organised crime in WA and his many encounters with criminals, from teaching writing to inmates to meeting biker gangs, has influenced his novels.  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 >
  • When she’s not training her inquisitorial blowtorch on politicians and other people who have questions to answer, ABC reporter and presenter SARAH FERGUSON loves to delve into a book. Her new book, The Killing Season Uncut, recounts the behind-the-scenes tales of the television program about the tumultuous Rudd–Gillard years. We asked the multi-award winning Four Corners reporter to tell us about the books that have influenced her. Read on >
  • 'Books, and lovers or friends, mark and change us. And we, in turn, mark and change them.' Melbourne novelist CATH CROWLEY writes about her longtime love of secondhand bookshops, and how the histories she found and imagined there led her to write Words in Deep Blue. Read on >
  • A Melbourne woman proud of her 7000-year-old Persian heritage shines a light on family violence in a memoir covering three generations. SOHILA ZANJANI, author of Scattered Pearls, speaks with JENNIFER SOMERVILLE. Read on >
  • ALL IS GIVEN: A MEMOIR IN SONGS by LINDA NEIL She’s a Brisbane-based songwriter and an awardwinning producer of radio documentaries, and in this memoir LINDA NEIL travels the world, playing music and meeting people along the way. In this extract she recalls as a teenager being given the seemingly tedious duty of reading books to a blind neighbour. But what happened next surprised both the reader and the listener. Read on >
  • The 1970s and 80s saw DAVE WARNER lead two influential punk-rock bands. His demanding musician’s lifestyle left little time for writing anything but his next single. Nowadays Dave is a full-time screenwriter, novelist and playwright, but he still takes to the stage every so often for a good old-fashioned rock-out. ANGUS DALTON finds out more about Dave’s life and his latest crime novel, Before It Breaks. 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 >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • Jessie Cole’s father and half-sister suicided years apart, using the same method. These deaths betrayed Cole’s trust. The mental pain her father and half-sister, Zoe, experienced showed itself in a kind of violence: humiliations designed to wound, rants ‘infected by rage’.  As tree-changers in their 70s, her psychiatrist father and home-maker mother had moved to Burringbar, a tiny town in the Northern Rivers of NSW. It’s an area many escape to in order to live in a beautiful landscape without judgement (in theory). Cocooned in a rainforest without any known grandparents or strict rules, she had a free-ranging life on a property she still calls home. Cole takes you into her child’s world; riding her father’s back across a river or hiding safe and happy in her mother’s long skirts.This perspective colours what you as the reader see of her parents. After Zoe’s suicide, Jessie expertly pulls the lens back to show a clearer picture of how the young parents around her were really behaving. It’s hard not to judge her father poorly for wreaking havoc on his family when he descends into madness. However, Cole delicately teases out her father’s personality and kinder self through his letters to her. Years later, a fisherman on a beach helps Cole to trust again. ‘I latched on to the idea of him … as though he had caught me with his hook … In his unwavering gaze I came into the light.’ Cole paints such an authentic picture of her grieving family I wanted to read more about the years that followed, which shows her great achievement in Staying. Reviewed by Josepha Dietrich Read on >

  • Filled with poignant scenes between Teddy and Radford, dark and rollicking parties, and the stark beauty of their isolation in the winter landscape, Robert Lukins has created a secret world that nurtures these troubled boys. There’s heartbreaking vulnerability, frustration and confusion, but this is balanced with self-sacrifice, tenderness and loyalty. This is a debut novel from a very accomplished writer and we can only hope that there will be many more to come. Read on >

  • The Boat People shows us how, when the powerful brutalise the powerless - with guns or laws - tidy notions of ‘right/wrong’, ‘legal/illegal,’ and ‘truth/lies’ become useless. A humane attitude must begin with kindness and compassion. Read on >

  • This is a witty book, a blend of both comedy and tragedy, full of sharp-eyed observations about life as a migrant in modern Britain, with an emotional punch behind the humour that stays with the reader. Read on >

  • Claire’s recounting of the past overshadows the story of Lucy and Ben’s current situation. Despite this, the novel is soulful, perplexing and deeply moving. The separate narrators’ tales beat with the same devastating heartbeat. This is a story of love lost and the grief it causes, of tragic circumstances and the threads that bind us all together. Read on >

  • The title valley is a narrow valley in the Shetland Islands. It contains five houses, a few people, sheep and assorted other animals.  David has lived in the valley for most of his life with his wife, Mary. Sandy has just broken up with David and Mary’s daughter, Emma, but he is the one who stays. When the valley’s oldest inhabitant dies, David becomes the executor of her croft, which he offers to Sandy in the hopes of giving the lost young man an anchor.  Meanwhile Alice, a former crime novelist who has fled to the islands to escape her grief, is trying to write a book about the island. Then there is the befuddled drunk, Terry, and the newcomers who aren’t exactly honest with their landlord, David, about why they are really there.  Remote landscapes exist as kind of self-contained microcosms, and the valley in this book is that kind of place, a world unto itself ruled by the changing of the seasons and the eternal transition from night to day and back again. In terms of narrative, very little happens over the year that is covered in the book. The story is composed of episodes in the lives of the characters as they live quiet existences entirely contained within the landscape of the valley.  This is a quietly profound work capturing both a sense of place and a sense of being contained by place. The most important character in the story is the valley, and it is beautifully realised through the human characters and their daily interactions with it.  Reviewed by Tessa Chudy     Read on >

  • This award-winning novel also rewards every reader with a rich and vibrant tale. It will make them question the very nature of humanity as Shelley did, and wonder at the value of any war, no matter how justified it may seem. Read on >

  • The Earth Does Not Get Fat is a skinny but seemingly interminable book about love and suffering. The biggest problem with the narrative is its unfortunate trajectory - life sucks, but after a holiday by the beach, replete with wine, tears and talking, suddenly, magically, everything gets better. It just doesn’t ring true. It feels like a concept undone by an over reliance on form (switching between multiple narrators) when just building the story around convincing characters might have worked better. Read on >

  • Oneiron is a complex and highly conceptual work, filled with deep and profound ideas, and is concerned with perhaps the greatest mystery faced by humanity – life after death. But when all is said and done, it is more a story about life and death. Read on >

  • Yvonne Fein is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. This collection of stories investigates experiences that have ravaged people - often irreparably. Read on >

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