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While LAURA ELIZABETH WOOLLETT was writing her novel Beautiful Revolutionary, she hired a bicycle in Ukiah, California, and rode 15 kilometres to Redwood Valley. The ride took almost two hours and involved braving a busy highway and peddling alongside towering timber lorries that were transporting logs from local sawmills. Gradually the roads became narrower and more rural, bordered by houses and trees. Finally she reached her destination: the Peoples Temple Christian Church. 
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • Heart surgeon PROFESSOR STEPHEN WESTABY has worked for 35 years to save ailing hearts and, in many cases, give his patients a second chance at life. In his new memoir, Fragile Lives, Westaby recounts remarkable and poignant cases, such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks before reaching six months of age. We asked him to tell us a bit about his life as a surgeon. Read on >
  • Read this and the ordinary world disappears,’ says Stephen King of
‘The Passage’ series. ANGUS DALTON talks with bestselling author JUSTIN CRONIN about his post-apocalyptic trilogy, the vampiric creatures he created to end humanity, and the last instalment of the series, The City of Mirrors. 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 >
  • Biographies have long fascinated readers, serving as guides for how to live our own lives or often just giving us an intriguing peek into the world of extraordinary people. In this round-up we look at a comedian with a disability, a magician with a learning disorder, the real man behind Walter White of Breaking Bad and more. But we’re bending the biography rules a bit by also including a book by a philosopher that will prompt you to think about living a better life, a book about Aussies at war and an account of Queensland police leading lives of corruption. Read on >
  • AOIFE CLIFFORD is the winner of the Scarlet Stiletto Award for one of her crime stories, but All These Perfect Strangers is her first novel. The Melbourne-based crime novelist talks with us about New Year’s resolutions, her Irish poet grandfather and the similarities between writing a novel and creating a papier-mâché puppet.  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 >
  • If you set out to write a thriller, you’re going to have to do some research. And while your story will be fiction, you’ll probably uncover more than a few fascinating real-world facts, as Australian thriller author L A LARKIN discovered while researching for her latest novel, Devour. Read on >
  • If you think of the German navy in World War II, then you probably conjure up images of grand-scale conflicts such as the Battle of the Atlantic or the Baltic Sea campaigns. But not so many people are aware that German ships were also on the prowl down in the South Pacific and in the Indian Ocean, where they disguised themselves as ordinary freighters before launching their deadly assaults on unsuspecting Allied craft. False Flags, a new account by Canberra author STEPHEN ROBINSON, tells the story of four German raiders, including the infamous attack by one of them, the Kormoran, on the HMAS Sydney in 1941. GRANT HANSEN reports. 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 >
  • It’s 100 years since
 Roald Dahl’s birth on 13 September 1916. For many years now, 13 September has been celebrated as Roald Dahl Day.  I love all of Roald Dahl’s books. I love the naughty antics his characters get up to in so many of his stories. I love reading about the fascinating life he led – especially his wartime flying exploits – and I really loved how he made the nasty grandmother in George’s Marvellous Medicine just go ‘pop’ and disappear. I think we all have someone in our life we’d like that to happen to occasionally. If you are yet to read his memoirs – Boy and Going Solo – I can’t recommend them highly enough. Read on >
  • ANGUS DALTON meets British historian, journalist and author L S HILTON as she publicises the most hotly anticipated thriller of 2016, Maestra. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • I found this a compelling tale of Willa’s journey towards a point in her life where she wonders if she can break free of the plans others make for her and the paths they expect her to follow. I plan to read some of Tyler’s other 21 novels. Read on >

  • This is a magnificent and compelling novel. The characters are so different from each other that it seems each deserves a novel of their own, but a love of nature and what it might mean to lose it draws them together. But the real stars of the novel are the trees; the story explores what science is now telling us about trees as sentient, social beings and speculates as to where undiscovered cures for diseases might lie. And it compels us to be grateful for the bounty of forests we are thoughtlessly squandering, and to consider what it might be like to live without them. One of the great novels of the year for me. Read on >

  • The Patient X of the title is noted Japanese author Ryunosuke Akutagawa, who lived in tumultuous times before committing suicide in 1927 at the age of 35. Perhaps the best known of Akutagawa’s stories in the west is Rashomon, which used multiple viewpoints to tell the story of a crime. He was influenced by Western authors like Edgar Allan Poe as well as traditional Japanese and Chinese stories, and a combination of Eastern and Western thought and religion. Read on >

  • Ponti Sharlene Teo Ponti (short for Pontianak, the cannibalistic female ghost-monster of Malay legend) is the story of three women; Szu and Circe, teenagers on the cusp of adulthood, and Szu’s mother, Amisa, a former beauty who starred in a series of B-grade horror movies as the Ponti character. Read on >

  • This novel starts with threats of burning and fire-lighting, and continues the bonfire theme throughout. The book consists entirely of entries from a diary, letters, newspapers and police reports, recorded on specific dates. This cleverly makes the story seem factual. Read on >

  • Katherine Collette has created a slice of ordinary life in which to explore the complex dynamics of relationships, loneliness and community. There are wonderfully quirky characters and witty, entertaining accounts of working at a local council – think overzealous health and safety officers and office-wide disputes over biscuits in the tearoom. This little microcosm reflects the wider world in so many ways and, while The Helpline is a thoroughly enjoyable read, you might come away with a few important things to reflect on too. Read on >

  • Asymmetry is certainly one of the strangest books I’ve read recently, both in structure and content, but I believe these quirks made the story more interesting and unique. Asymmetry left me with three distinct and tangible perspectives on life and the importance art and beauty. Read on >

  • Saint Antony is a rewarding novel, unpacking ideas of humanity, philosophy and religion in a unique way. The deeper you get, the more Uhlmann draws you into his fascinating world. Read on >

  • So convincing is the life Murray has created for Cranmer and the paintings she describes, I found myself undertaking an online search to determine whether the artist was more than a fictional representation of generations of women whose lives have been narrowed by patriarchal privilege. Read on >

  • Set against the stormy background of the Spanish Civil War and the lead-up to the World War II, this outstanding and informative blend of true stories and fiction is one of the best books I’ve read this year.  It’s 1937, on the eve of World War II, and Spanish nationalist forces led by General Francisco Franco are in the final stages of preparing to raid Spain by the following year. Meanwhile, up-and-coming celebrity author Ernest Hemingway meets American journalist Martha Gellhorn in a bar in Key West in Florida. There is an immediate attraction between them. When Hemingway leaves to join one of the International Brigades in Spain, Gellhorn follows, catching up with him in Barcelona as Franco’s forces clash with Spanish Republicans. The pair cover the war together as journalists, and fall in love – despite Hemingway still being married to his first wife, Hadley Richardson (author Paula McLain wrote about this relationship in her 2011 novel, The Paris Wife). When Hemingway publishes his bestselling and critically lauded novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, based on the Civil War, his relationship with the highly ambitious Gellhorn, who’s working for the magazine Collier’s Weekly and is an aspiring novelist herself, begins to strain. Gellhorn is now regarded as one of the most important war correspondents of the time, who had a keen interest in the stories of the people affected by war rather than just the political machinations of conflict. Set against the stormy background of the Spanish Civil War and the lead-up to the World War II, this outstanding and informative blend of true stories and fiction is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Reviewed by Jean Ferguson   Read on >

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The Paris Collaborator