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In IAN HAYDN SMITH’s book, Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know, he handpicks 50 notable figures from the modern world of literature and explores the creative genius that earned them the cult label, while celebrating the works that made their names. In our second in a series of five extracts gr is exploring the authors that have a cult following. This month we learn more about New Zealand writer, Janet Frame, whose autobiographical trilogy was transformed into a film by Jane Campion.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • 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 >
  • 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 nose is a wonderful thing. A new study has found that the human nose can distinguish between at least one trillion different smells. I love nothing more than sticking my nose inside a blooming rose as I walk Baxter along the street. But I also have a passionate hatred of the choking diesel fumes disgorged from nearby cruise ships. So even though I may be able to detect over a trillion odours, there are many of them I don’t want to smell! Kate Grenville’s new book, The Case against Fragrance, has had me pondering the aromas, the scents and odours that enter my nose – whether I want them to or not. In 2015 Kate started to get frequent headaches and other signs of ill health and, strangely, they seemed to get worse when she was on tour to promote her latest book.After some effort to isolate the cause, she discovered that it was perfumes or other fragrances that were the culprits. She felt debilitated. She loved to meet her readers but was bombarded with fragrances in crowded rooms. She was compelled to find out what it was about perfumes that could be causing her these health problems. She opened a can of worms. 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 >
  • Communicating the most exciting new developments in science to non-scientific readers can be a challenge. But Know This: Today’s most interesting and important scientific ideas, discoveries, and developments, takes up the challenge and lets dozens of eminent scientists tell us what they think are the most interesting recent developments in science. Here are two extracts from the book. 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 >
  • In her latest novel, Melbourne author JANE RAWSON adds an air of otherworldliness to the story of her ancestor who survived a 19th-century shipwreck. She talks to MAUREEN EPPEN about history, aliens and the benefits of having been a ‘hack writer’ for 25 years.  Read on >
  • 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 >
  • JOHN KINSELLA is the author of 30 books and is the three-time winner of the WA Premier's Book Award for Poetry. He's a fellow at Cambridge's Churchill college and the editor of international literary journal Salt. The self-described vegan/anarchist/pacifist tells Good Reading asked him about his new short story collection, Old Growth.   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 >
  • Church attendance has been plummeting for decades, yet enrolments for church-based schools are soaring. Nearly all non-churchgoers say that they like having a church in their suburb – although they never go inside it. Leading social researcher HUGH MACKAY takes a look at our contradictory attitudes to religion in his new book, Beyond Belief. In this article, Hugh recounts a part of his own spiritual journey and how he came to write the book. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • Each of these stories is a sweet snack – a jalebi for instance – and combine as a whole to give a radiance to the daily life of the (monetarily) poor in Mumbai. They were written from the 1980s to 2000s but without the attendant dates, you might not realise that. So little changes over time. With the sublime nature of these stories, it makes you wonder what else you might be missing out on with English as a mother tongue. Read on >

  • This quietly cerebral, emotional and atmospheric story is a gift of hope at a time when so many are struggling with seemingly insurmountable challenges. Read on >

  • This thought-provoking novel uses Egyptian history and archaeology, quantum physics, parallel universes and philosophy to examine questions of life, death, love, loss, choices and missed opportunities. A fascinating and profound read. Read on >

  • Graham Norton’s third novel is full of surprises. There are a confusing number of names and relatives in the first few chapters but the narrative soon settles down as we accompany Connor in his search for identity. Straight and gay characters interweave; shame and sadness give way to pride and contentment; and loneliness and longing are conquered. A thoughtful, accomplished saga of a community in crisis and the power of resilience. Read on >

  • Donald Trump goes to Florida Disneyworld to inspect the animatronic figure the Imagineers make for the Hall of Presidents attraction. He’s so impressed he orders them to make another for his personal amusement, and he feels so close to it they end up sleeping together, all while he protests he’s not gay. And that’s not even the weirdest idea in screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s novel. Not everyone will respond to the way Kaufman’s mind works and the way he expresses himself, but you might just find yourself on board and swept along despite your suspicions. Read on >

  • This is a really interesting book; a musical novel in composition and emotional intent. It’s an ambitious novel and, much like a complex jazz album, through tone and texture it tells a story that ends up being far more than the sum of its parts. Read on >

  • It’s about a woman – a millennial in her 30s – at a crossroads in her life. While those around her are marrying and having children, she doesn’t want to have kids. Read on >

  • This is an intriguing mystery, but a deeper layer is added by the well-drawn characters and their relationships. In a small town where everyone knows each other, suspicions are easily aroused. We care as much about what happens to the characters as we do about solving the crime. Like in her previous books, the setting is so strong that it’s almost a character in itself. For fans like me, a new Harper book is a treat and this is another cracking read. Read on >

  • We find out who Roald Dahl really was: a photographer, a fighter pilot, a medical inventor and even a spy! He was a toilet-seat warmer at boarding school and really did put a dead mouse in a sweets jar. We find out when his birthday was and how he tested chocolate for Cadbury’s when he was at school. Lots of pages have something to do with Roald Dahl’s fantastic stories. Read on >

  • Although I found the quick interchange of perspectives hard to follow at times, None Shall Sleep has a masterfully brilliant storyline and is definitely worth reading. It is not for the faint-hearted, but a refreshing extension into a more mature genre for teens. Chilling, captivating and suspenseful, it kept me in a constant state of alert. Read on >

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