Books & Writing

best foot forward: a funny feat accompli

Adam Hills is alive with the sound of humour, with jokes he has honed for a number of years.

Adam Hills biography, BEST FOOT FORWARD, pulls no legs, (well, maybe one or three), but happily puts humour at the heart of his journey from fledgeling funny man to a king of comedy.

Audiences familiar with his TV presenter persona on Spicks and Specks and The Last Leg will undoubtedly hear his voice as they read this breezy bio, the timing and phrasing of his banter leeching through the printed page.

Undisputedly a stand up comic of high calibre, Hills comes through as a stand up guy, calling out bullshit when he sees it and looking into his own missteps in preconceived prejudices and in bred biases.

BEST FOOT FORWARD sees Hills become a mountain in mirth making circles through toning his talent with determined hard work, refining and defining his own voice. Continue reading best foot forward: a funny feat accompli

2028: a novel of comic genius

In the recent sell-out season of Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest at the Genesian Theatre, one character responds to another, a candidate contesting a by election for the Liberals, with the line, “Are they still at it?”.

In light of the latest machinations in Canberra, the line brought the house down, illustrating the laughing stock current Australian politics has become.

Rife for satire now perhaps more than ever, Ken Saunders skewers the Australian political scene with his debut novel, 2028, and scores a direct hit targeting a political machine more focused on polling than policy, hypocrisy than democracy, and stagnation rather than governance. Continue reading 2028: a novel of comic genius

unwell: here’s health

A melody of maladies, a symphony of symptoms, a harmony of ailments, treatments, and cures, UNWELL is a diagnosis on disease past and present, complete with a prognosis for the health of humanity for the future.

Far from being a corollary for hypochondriacs, Mike McRae’s mine of information is a fascinating foray into the infections and infirmities that have plagued us, the forensics and pharmacologies that have aided us, and the success and failures of political will to end our ills.

Fevered and inflammatory, UNWELL charts charlatans and champions, quackery and cures, medical mavericks, snake oil charmers, grave robbers, the factual Frankensteins and genuine Jekylls, to show how society, religion and culture designate disease as much as science. Continue reading unwell: here’s health


BALLET: THE DEFINITIVE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY. This marvellous book is a rather large and heavy coffee table/reference book that dance lovers will pounce on with delight.

With ballet legend Viviana Durante as Editorial Consultant , the book is divided chronologically into six sections, from the earliest historical performances through to current ones .It is clearly , simply and elegantly presented and lavishly illustrated. We are taken through the history of ballet from the earliest performances (Ballet Comique de la Reine etc ) right through to now with the latest cutting edge works of Christopher Wheeldon and others.It has an international coverage but concentrates on Europe and America.     Continue reading BALLET: THE DEFINITIVE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY – MARVELLOUS

a shrink in the clink: australian psychos

There’s possibly an argument that Tim Watson-Munro’s book, A SHRINK IN THE CLINK, should come shrink wrapped.

Subtitled Crazy Tales of Criminal Sin and Jail Psychology, A SHRINK IN THE CLINK is a litany of low life lifers, their times and crimes assessed by a forensic Freudster finking out the felonious fraudster.

There’s an enormous amount of mens rea sprayed about in A SHRINK IN THE CLINK, enough to fill a shrink’s sink. Enough to sink any plea of insanity in regards of the heinous homicides and deplorable paedophilia described in these pages.

Indeed, cases of paedophilia seem to fill these pages, and in most cases are called for what they are – obnoxious oxymorons. These perpetrators don’t love kids, they clearly hate them. They physically torture them and leave them with an eternal legacy of trauma. Continue reading a shrink in the clink: australian psychos


Images and text from ‘Slow Down and Grow Something’ by Byron Smith with Tess Robinson, Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99 Photography by Alex Carlyle (location), Rob Palmer (food)                        Featured image: Fennel and Pear Slaw

SLOW DOWN AND GROW SOMETHING.  And then cook something.  This book from Byron Smith with Tess Robinson is perfectly placed for an urban reader.  In its beautifully photographed pages is so much inspiration to reduce your stress levels by engaging with the garden in an edible kind of way.  In simple terms with inspiring images, the book provides growing information, nurturing tips and tricks and a seasonal guide to cooking with the fruits and vegies and herbs of your labours. “Cultivate. Cook. Share.”

To begin at the beginning, Byron Smith is a horticulturalist and founder of Urban Growers an edible garden design company.  With his partner Tess Robinson, who is chief cook with the produce from Byron’s food garden, they live in Sydney and have found, according to the introduction, “that gardening and cooking ensure we maintain a simple meaningful life in the chaos of the city.”  Sounds like a nice idea but is it really possible?  That was my question when I first opened up this book. Continue reading SLOW DOWN AND GROW SOMETHING: JUST THE INSPIRATION YOU NEED

cicada: tok, tok, tok!

Like a Kafka tale for kindergarten kids, CICADA is another exquisite triumph of picture book art, craft, empathy and imagination from Shaun Tan.

CICADA tells the story of the eponymous Cicada, a data entry clerk who has toiled for seventeen years without a break and never a mistake.

His reward, utter negligence, no recognition, no promotion, no thanks.

Human resources say Cicada not human. Need no resources. Continue reading cicada: tok, tok, tok!

into the night: no sleep till dawn

Plot, pacing, a sentient sense of place and a cast of complex characters propel the compelling new thriller from Sarah Bailey, INTO THE NIGHT.

Last year, Sarah Bailey’s debut novel, THE DARK LAKE was published.

Critically acclaimed, including by yours truly, who wrote: “Bailey has created a highly plausible, humanly flawed heroine in Gemma Woodstock, a compelling mix of brave, vulnerable, ambitious and torn”, readers nation wide wished and hoped that there would be a sequel.

That wish has been granted, the hopes realised, with INTO THE NIGHT, a novel that cements Bailey’s reputation as thriller writer of high calibre. Continue reading into the night: no sleep till dawn


Join Authors Margo Lanagan, Luke Carman, Oliver Mol and Manisha Anjali for a literary feast.

It’s a rare and intimate chance to eat good grub with literary legends.  A READING AT STEKI WITH A BANQUET is the latest in the Drinks with Friends event.

Set in the courtyard of the Steki Tavern, you will dine on a succulent banquet whilst hearing from New York Times bestselling author Margo Lanagan, NSW Premier Literary Award Winner Luke Carman, the author of SUGAR KANE WOMAN and recent opener at the Emerging Writers Festival Manisha Anjali, and Oliver Mol, winner of the inaugural Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and author of LION ATTACK! Continue reading GOOD GRUB WITH LITERARY LEGENDS: LATEST FROM DRINKS WITH FRIENDS


In the big game hunt for bestsellerdom, Wilbur Smith has few rivals.

When not shooting game, he’s been firing off best sellers for over fifty years.

Finally, he has penned a memoir, ON LEOPARD ROCK, which will surely scale the best seller lists on the strength of his fan base.

Subtitled A Life of Adventures, ON LEOPARD ROCK is certainly that, from his early childhood in Africa under the tutelage of his father, Herbert, – “He was my God” is quoted more than once in the tome – to the fame of an internationally published author, Wilbur Smith has had an adventurous life.

ON LEOPARD ROCK is subdivided into seventeen chapters, most of which carry the compartments of his life – child, boy, student, seafarer and so on. Continue reading ON LEOPARD ROCK: A LIFE OF ADVENTURES