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TANYA HENNESSY is a comedian and radio announcer in Canberra, and a social media sensation. It’s been said that ‘if Amy Schumer and Rebel Wilson had a love child, you’d get Tanya Hennessy’. Tanya started her career as an actor, and has worked at Opera Australia, as a clown at Luna Park in Sydney, and as a stilt-walker. Tanya’s video parodying make-up tutorials last year catapulted her to YouTube fame. In her book Am I Doing This Right?, Tanya presents stories in an A–Z format, from A is for Awkward, to Z is for, well, ZZZZ. Here Tanya tells us about the books that have changed her life and the pantless perks of presenting radio. 
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • For some women, bad men cast an irresistibly magnetic spell. Melbourne-based author LAURA ELIZABETH WOOLLETT examines this often fatal attraction in  The Love of a Bad Man, a collection of 12 stories based on the lives of real women who sought the love of criminals. In this extract from ‘Eva’, the author imagines the post-coital thoughts of Eva Braun, who met Adolf Hitler when she was 17. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • Thirteen-year-old gamer Beth loves fighting beasts and solving riddles in her favourite online game, Tordon. But she soon faces her own adventure when she and her gaming nemesis are sucked into a new adventure filled world where they have to fight for their own survival. Into Tordon is a collaborative novel by 9 authors, written under the pseudonym of Z F Kingbolt. Good Reading talks to Editor-in-Chief Zena Shapter about the collaborative writing process, gaming and the adventures in the real world that mimic those found on the screen. Read on >
  • From an investigation into the scandals of the Catholic Church by Tom Keneally to Jeffrey Archer’s thrilling last instalment in the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ series or a tale of a shrewd female locksmith in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, these books will delight you over the long, languid days of summer. Read on >
  • A young woman named edie channels the dead through her work with the shady Elysian Society in a dytopian first novel from SARA FLANNERY MURPHY. The Oklahoma-based author tells EMMA STUBLEY about her encounters with ghosts and Greek mythology and how they influened The Possessions. Read on >
  • The author of The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: And other inspiring stories of pioneering brain transformation, busts long-held conceptions about how our minds function. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • Novelist and journalist MAGGIE ALDERSON spent her gap year as a ‘ferocious punk rocker’ working at an advertising agency and starting her own punk fanzine, for which she interviewed Bob Geldoff and Billy Idol. She went on to become the editor of Evening Standard and Elle in London. She also spent eight years in Australia as editor of Cleo and Mode, and covering fashion shows in Milan and Paris for The Sydney Morning Herald. Now back in the UK, Maggie has just released a new novel, The Scent of You. She tells us why reading fairy stories is good training for any writer, who her literary crush is, and why War and Peace is the most emotionally involving books she's ever read. Read on >
  • Stretching across generations and set on the Atherton Tablelands where she lives, the latest novel from prolific Australian author BARBARA HANNAY is a saga of loss, love, secrets and salvation. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN 
about her writing life, and how The Grazier's Wife evolved.   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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