Books & Writing

THE LAW OF INNOCENCE: PLAGUED BY PROSECUTION

Have you ever considered that innocence is not a legal concept?

Brought before a court of law, a defendant pleads guilty or not guilty, and is judged to be guilty or not guilty. There may be presumption of innocence but there is no law of innocence.

Michael Connelly makes it so, however, by titling his latest novel, THE LAW OF INNOCENCE. It’s the sixth volume in the Lincoln Lawyer canon, featuring defence attorney, Mickey Haller.

This time, Haller has been indicted for murder and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Not only is he facing life in prison but a hefty five million dollar bail is keeping in remand in the spookily monikered Twin Towers jail in downtown LA.

Deeming him a flight risk, Haller is made a fight risk inside the penal colony, and building legal case for his defence runs parallel to building a personal defence against attack from inmates, working off their own volition or in the employ of parties who don’t want to see Haller survive for trial.

And if he does survive for trial, he is going to face a ferocious prosecutor known as Death Row Dana, a formidable foe that could throw the attorney into eternity.

There’s a Connelly universe cross-over that sure to please fans – Harry Bosch offers his services to be part of the investigative team that will build the defence case, running down leads and following up felons who might want Haller framed.

As contemporary as Corona virus, THE LAW OF INNOCENCE is indeed set at the beginning of the year when COVID was starting its world tour. One of the setbacks to Haller’s trial preparation is when his co-counsel, Jennifer Aaonson, hears her father has died in Seattle of an undiagnosed illness.

Due to the coming wave of the pandemic, schedules are cut to determine the admissibility of particular evidence and the introduction of masks by Twin Towers guards hardens Haller’s resolve to be out of lock up before the wave hits.

As usual, Connelly crafts a superb thriller that explores the intricacies and peccadilloes of the American legal system in an awesomely entertaining package.

THE LAW OF INNOCENCE by Michael Connelly is published by Allen & Unwin

THE LIVING SEA OF WAKING DREAMS: FLANAGAN’S WAKE

“It was like living with a chronically sick smoker except the smoker was the world and everyone was trapped in its fouled and collapsing lungs.”

This paragraph is illustrative of the big picture subtext of Booker Prize winning author Richard Flanagan’s superb new novel, THE LIVING SEA OF WAKING DREAMS. Environmental issues envelop the story, the world wide web of wild life extinction, wild weather, a wilderness of political and social will.

The more intimate narrative of the story is the end of life process perpetrated by the medical profession and by families clinging to the last vestiges of denial, postponing the grieving, and the facing, perhaps, of their own mortality.

The lie that implies postponing death is life permeates Flanagan’s fired up fable, the prevalent, idiotic idea that saving someone from death by prolonging their dying is a pursuit worth engaging. In Flanagan’s view, the palliative has become appallingly unpalatable.

“The formidable technology …had proved too much for their mother’s failing organs, too overwhelming for her filling lungs and drowning heart to oppose. Their horrific goodness had multiplied into so many entanglements of tube and torment – binding her to pain. The clacking, ticking, beeping machines counted things that were not life yet refused dying. It was all done out of love- nothing so cruel was possible to emerge out of hate alone.”

Anna’s mother Francie is dying. And simultaneously, parts of Annie’s anatomy are disappearing, digits and limbs vanishing like species, appendages dissolving into apparitions, physiology becoming phantasm. Climate change personified. And nobody seems to notice.

By using this device, Flanagan forces us to notice, to contemplate the astonishing vanishing that is going on around us, day by day.

Denial of climate change, like the denial of the death of a loved one, is futile. It is a recipe for catastrophe. A more restorative recipe is to dice regrets, add knowledge, knead, let nature rise, and leave greed to ferment out.

Beautifully written, THE LIVING SEA OF WAKING DREAMS is also a beautifully bound and presented book, a triumph of design and aesthetically pleasing.

THE LIVING SEA OF WAKING DREAMS by Richard Flanagan is published by Knopf

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? COOLER THAN HALLIWELL,HOTTER THAN MALTIN

Take a celluloid shower with Les Asmussen while he gives a bath to a century of faulty films in WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?, an examination of one hundred more or less of the worst movies ever made and how they got that way.

Asmussen, jobbing actor, celluloid aficionado and reel time raconteur is at his most acerbically amusing dissecting Fox fiascoes, Columbia debacles, Universal stinkers, MGM mangles, Paramount flops, and Warner washouts.

Movies you’d be well advised to miss. And yet…. Movies you should avoid like the plague yet….. see them anyway. Movies you catch at your peril but offer up guilty pleasures as they unspool their naff narratives, absurd scenarios and historical heresies.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? begins with a preamble professing the author would rather sit down to Plan 9 From Outer Space than ever see Dances With Wolves ever again. Why? According to Les, Kevin Costner’s epic western commits the one serious crime of movie going: it bores, it is seemingly interminable.

Of course, one man’s bore is another man’s bounty, one man’s mutton could be another man’s Lady Caroline Lamb, one man’s effervescence is another man’s enervation. It’s all in the eye of Geoffrey Holder.

Like all analytical lexicographers, Les sets to list the chosen films alphabetically with Oliver Stone’s Alexander and John Huston’s Annie, (Huston we have a problem!) but from The Bad Seed the alphabetical suffers a coup, and is gotten the better of as the musings meander into the tributaries of the River Phoenix feeding into the Veronica Lakes.

With the locution of a runaway locomotive, Les shunts the rolling stock of would be laughing stock into side rails and holding yards, calibrating delightful degrees of separation, elucidating on the films of Elvis, the decade of Dick and Liz, and the fortunes (fiscal) and misfortunes(artistic) of Z grade producers, Sam Katzman and Albert Zugsmith.

Les invents delicious dialogue between Bright Young Executives regarding spurious acquisitions and inane pitches that lead to the production of inane pictures.

He casts his censorious cornea over censorship the exercise of which excised pertinent plot points rendering poignant human drama to Hollywood dross.

From the incredible to the incredulous, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? credits a catalogue of catastrophic castings – teens played by twenty somethings, Blacks played by Whites, Orientals played by Occidentals, of Euro puddings turning saga into sago, box office blancmange.

As well as being endlessly entertaining, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? is a treasure trove of trivia. Read it and make trivial pursuit your strong suit, armed as you’ll be with movie minutiae and Tinsel town trifles.

So WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? becomes a triple treat in these days of isolation – a riveting read in its own write, a means to mine questions and answers for quizzes, and a source reference for films you’ve never seen but now your interest piqued must catch.

The pontification is fun and informed, making WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? a fustian bargain where the reward is enjoying what is essentially a bad movie.

Cooler than Halliwell, Hotter than Maltin, Les Asmussen’s WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? is a hoot, a hooray for the horrors of Hollywood, Brit pics and Euro puds.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?: One hundred (more or less) of the WORST movies ever made* *and how they got that way! by Les Asmussen. The book can be purchased for $34 including postage by email. The email contact address is : number.62@optusnet.com.au.

 

MARY’S LAST DANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE WIFE OF ‘MAO’S LAST DANCER’

Author Mary Li

This highly anticipated book is a companion piece in a way to ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’, the extraordinary story of Li Cunxin currently Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet.

Now for Mary, his wife. It is a powerful and moving tale of a mother (and father’s ) love, of Mary sacrificing her career for her daughter and the various struggles the family has been through. It blends four or more worlds: those of ballet, finance, Western and Chinese and the hearing and deaf. How does the family – but especially Mary and daughter Sophie – manage? The importance of family is a major theme throughout the book.

The book is warm and engaging. Mary’s voice comes across with a definitely Aussie ‘accent’. It is divided into six parts and twenty chapters, with photographs in the middle. Continue reading MARY’S LAST DANCE: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE WIFE OF ‘MAO’S LAST DANCER’

‘PIERRE’S NOT THERE’ : WRITER URSULA DUBOSARSKY, ILLUSTRATOR CHRISTOPHER NIELSEN

A girl who transforms into a dog, a magic puppet show with the power to change lives and a story about the mysteries of the imagination, that’s what is in store for readers of Ursula Dubosarsky’s Latest work ‘Pierre’s Not There’.

Lara had always wished she was a dog, and one day, just for a short time, she actually became one. This is how it happened.  Continue reading ‘PIERRE’S NOT THERE’ : WRITER URSULA DUBOSARSKY, ILLUSTRATOR CHRISTOPHER NIELSEN

DEATH IN DAYLESFORD by KERRY GREENWOOD

A most thrilling, exciting adventure for all of us who are Phryne Fisher fans.

Eagerly anticipated this is the first Phryne Fisher mystery since 2013. (Not forgetting the TV series and the film Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears).  It is Greenwood’s sixty fifth book, her twenty first Phryne Fisher mystery.

Kerry Greenwood is the author of more than fifty novels, a book of short stories, six non-fiction works, and the editor of two collections of crime writing. Her beloved Phryne Fisher series has become a successful ABC TV series, ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’, which sold around the world. She is also the author of the contemporary crime series featuring Corinna Chapman, baker and reluctant investigator. The most recent Corinna Chapman novel was The Spotted Dog. Continue reading DEATH IN DAYLESFORD by KERRY GREENWOOD

INSIDE STORY: A NOVEL?

George Orwell famously said that ‘ autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful (a man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying)’

By that measure, Martin Amis proclaims, what is disclosed in his latest book, INSIDE STORY, is gospel truth.

I am calling INSIDE STORY a book, even though emblazoned on its cover, it purports to be a novel. This contrariness is part of its charm.

The title, INSIDE STORY, tells its own story, an enticing double entendre. “Your identity sleeps inside you, unless or until it is aroused”, writes Amis, and this book is all about arousal.

For instance, there was an occasion whenGermaine Greer was Martin’s nurse. Does that arouse you?

If INSIDE STORY is, indeed, a novel, is it a smirk novel? A novel of self congratulation glorying in the author’s literary fame and stupendous success with women? Or is it a scowl novel? Scroll through and see.

Amis professes that writers are life’s eulogists, the woe specialists, the wound flaunters, and that it’s an elementary mistake thinking that writers are life’s elegists.

At a certain point, usually in late middle age, something congeals and solidifies and encysts itself. Encystant. Mirth metastasises, effervescence enervates and affability evaporates.

INSIDE STORY acknowledges that and then takes up arms against it, supported by his great friend, the late Christopher Hitchens. Together they find the humour in the tumour, the jocosity of cancer, the rancour of the canker that eventually claimed Christopher’s life.

INSIDE STORY is full of intellectual and emotional arousal, the intellectual probably gaining the upper hand with the author’s appreciation of fellow writers, Saul Bellow, Philip Larking, Kurt Vonnegut and Elizabeth Jane Howard. Intellectually, it is also a primer on how to write.

Audacious, ambitious, loquacious, INSIDE STORY is dense, diatmetric, dramatically and deliberately dubious.

Dip in.

INSIDE STORY by Martin Amis is published by Jonathan Cape

TRUTH BOMB BY ABIGAIL CROMPTON

This is a large, heavy, coffee table book that is explosively colourful, vibrant, controversial, provocative and at times confronting.

Abigail Crompton, Artistic Director and Founder of Third Drawer Down is submerged in the art world after studying art at university. A broken arm was the catalyst for the creation of Third Drawer Down. Since 2003, Crompton has dedicated her life to working with artists to make art accessible. Third Drawer Down (est. 2003) is an innovative design studio whose mission is to make art affordable, accessible and a part of the everyday. The studio has collaborated with more than 200 artists from around the world and creates memorable products for global institutions.

TRUTH BOMB is a fabulous celebration of trailblazing contemporary women artists in their diversity and use of various media( painting, textiles, video, radio, collages, sculpture… )Taboos are ignored, there is strong language at times and feminist issues are explored. Defiantly insisting on being noticed, women’s power, skill as artists and gender issues are highlit. The female body is celebrated, both nude and clothed, as is the female gaze on the male body. Continue reading TRUTH BOMB BY ABIGAIL CROMPTON

USE IT ALL: AN APPETITE FOR SUSTAINABILITY

A question of waste not waist not, USE IT ALL is an invitation to reduce food waste while eating generously, while not getting your pantries in a knot.

If it dealt with the primarily carnivore, USE IT ALL would be a snout to tail tome, but it’s emphasis is more omnivore is more than a cookbook, it’s a kitchen guide to modern food wisdom that will help readers find the wholly trinity of balance… Buy less, buy whole, use it all.

For years Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards, from boundary-breaking food community Cornersmith, experimented in their home kitchens to figure out how to feed their families efficiently, affordably and sustainably. The result is USE IT ALL.

Structured around weekly seasonal shopping baskets, it includes over 230 recipes with alternative flavour combinations so you can adapt a recipe to what you have on hand – no more excuses for breeding penicillin in the fridge.

The book is peppered with foundation recipes, flexible blue prints that allow cooks to be architects of their own creations, whether they’re designer dinners, bespoke breakfasts, or something in between.

No scrimping and saving to make scrumptious suppers, USE IT ALL ignites ingenious ideas to make the most of each ingredient so that a little goes a long way and there’s wise waste hacks for turning tired produce or off cuts into something edible – truly, madly, deliciously.

USE IT ALL offers a simple, delicious way to cook and eat by buying less, wasting less and making more with what you’ve got. It’s a war on a waste, a war on waist, and victory in the specific.

More than a mere cook book, USE IT ALL is a discerning guided discovery, a set of suggestions to help you navigate the myriad maps to marvellous menus. A veritable cartography to culinary exploration.

Authors Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards are recon warriors in the war on food waste. Alex is co-founder of boundary-breaking food
community Cornersmith in Sydney, while Jaimee teaches fermentation and traditional cooking skills at the Cornersmith cooking school.

USE IT ALL by Alex Elliott-Howery and Jamie Edwards is published by Murdoch Books

TRUST: A THRILLER SATURATED IN SUBSTANCE

Wickedly well written, a phrase turner that powers a page turner, trust me, TRUST is a rip-roaring read.

With Corris and Temple departed, Chris Hammer almost makes up for the hole in Australian crime fiction left by them. TRUST is Hammer’s fourth novel, the third in his Martin Scarsden series, and arguably his best.

TRUST starts with a prologue that is so slickly cinematic it reads like a pre- title sequence so if you can’t wait for the movie you don’t have to. If it ever does become a movie, the film makers can eschew a screenwriter. It’s all here.

TRUST has the Holy Trinity of the A class thriller – sense of place, sense of pace and sense of character – to thicken the plot and nourish the narrative.

Banks behaving badly and a secret society of snobs and silver spoons, a CBD cabal involved in murder, fetishism and money laundering are just the tip of the iceberg in this titanic tome of the past playing catch up with the present.

Topical and contemporary as Covid 19 – indeed the pandemic is mentioned in a hopeful past tense- TRUST is set in a Sydney hazed in smoke, the Harbour City seemingly in perpetual peril of becoming a pyre.

A fire of a different sort is set ablaze by the twin occurrence of the discovery of the body of an alleged embezzler thought fled not dead and the execution with attendant ignominious innuendo of a veteran investigative journalist and a Supreme Court judge.

These seemingly separate events twist and turn into each other in serpentine coils of devious and disreputable action, yielding more ghosts than a horse can carry, delivering us into a sinister twilight.

Hammer’s prose is like honey. It sticks to the imagination and spreads with a sweet viscosity through the narrative, persuading the reader to plough through one more ‘nother chapter, the suspense murdering sleep, tearing all thought of slumber asunder.

All the characters are well drawn but the presence of Henry Livingstone, a deadly dandy armed with a Dirty Harry handgun, somewhat reminiscent of Ian Fleming’s Francisco Scaramanga, has a particularly picaresque standing.

TRUST by Chris Hammer is published by Allen & Unwin

HOW SCIENCE FICTION MAKES SENSE OF PHYSICS

It’s not rocket science – or is it? A UNSW Sydney astronomer explains how the right sci-fi watchlist can make physics easier to understand.
 
From the morality plays in Star Trek, to the grim futures in Black Mirror, fiction can help explore our hopes – and fears – of the role science might play in our futures.
 
But sci-fi can be more than just a source of entertainment. When fiction gets the science right (or right enough), sci-fi can also be used to make science accessible to broader audiences. 
 
“Sci-fi can help relate science and technology to the lived human experience,” says Dr Maria Cunningham, a radio astronomer and senior lecturer in UNSW Science’s School of Physics. 

Continue reading HOW SCIENCE FICTION MAKES SENSE OF PHYSICS

THE GODMOTHERS BY MONICA MCINERNEY

The latest book by Monica McInerney is a story about life, love, hidden secrets, truth vs fiction, discovery , loss and search for identity. A family saga with a strong protagonist set both in Australia and Europe the book moves between country Australia, Melbourne, an exclusive family hotel in Edinburgh, and an Irish town with an ancient castle.

Monica McInerney is regarded as one of the stars of Australian fiction, with over a million copies of her books sold in Australia and New Zealand. This year she celebrates 20 years as a published author, now with over twelve books to her name.

It is of medium size and thickness, with 42 chapters and an epilogue, a captivating read – there is an element of mystery throughout as Eliza unearths family secrets.

In THE GODMOTHERS, Eliza Miller grew up in Australia as the only daughter of a troubled young mother, Jeannie,but with the constant support of two watchful godmothers, Olivia and Maxie who promised to look after her Eliza and Jeannie moved house constantly and Jeannie kept telling Eliza conflicting stories. Eliza was treated to holidays with them every year. Continue reading THE GODMOTHERS BY MONICA MCINERNEY

VIDA A WOMAN FOR OUR TIME by JACQUELINE KENT

This is a fascinating biography of VIDA GOLDSTEIN, a trailblazing Australian woman, and shows how the treatment of women in politics and society has not changed much in certain aspects even today a hundred years or more later.

Jacqueline Kent has written acclaimed biographies of Julia Gillard, pianist and social activist Hephzibah Menuhin, and pioneer book editor Beatrice Davis.
The book itself is of medium size and thickness, divided into four parts and twenty two chapters with an introduction and an epilogue. Notes and references, an extensive bibliography and a great index are included at the back. In the middle there re several pages of photographs.

Vida Goldstein was an inspirational leader, the first woman to stand for Parliament, a campaigner for women’s rights and social justice. She also fought for a far more equal distribution of wealth and help for the poor, and was a campaigner for peace and anti-conscription. Continue reading VIDA A WOMAN FOR OUR TIME by JACQUELINE KENT

‘SOAR, A LIFE FREED BY DANCE’ BY DAVID MCALLISTER

This is a fascinating autobiography by the current artistic director of the Australian Ballet David McAllister, written in conjunction with Amanda Dunn.

David McAllister was born in Perth and his is a story of courage and following your passion. McAllister has almost always belonged onstage.

In his memoir we follow him from when he was the middle child in a Catholic family, who knew nothing about dance, observing himself twirl in the reflective glass of the TV and dreaming about becoming the next Rudolf Nureyev. As a little boy taking ballet lessons, he was viciously bullied. Continue reading ‘SOAR, A LIFE FREED BY DANCE’ BY DAVID MCALLISTER

THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS : EXQUISITE

I was browsing the Berkoleow’s bookstore in Darlinghurst when I came across a book that I just had to pick up and look at. The title intrigued me. ‘The Museum Of Broken Relationships’.  

I read the introduction by Olinka Vistica. She writes that the genesis of the museum concept came about after the end of her four year love affair with co-editor Drazen Grubisic.

The couple felt bereft and empty. They searched for an object in their home that they could most remember their relationship by. Looking around their room they spotted a little windup toy that they nicknamed ‘Honey Bunny’. It was a toy that when they came home from a busy day saw marching in circles the minute they opened their front door. ‘Honey Bunny’ made up for the pet that they just didn’t get around to having.

This got them to thinking that a lot of couples must have at least one object that, in a way, epitomized their relationship. Then they came up with the idea- what if there could be a repository made to contain memorable objects of love affairs that had come to an end. Their thoughts turned to creating a Museum of Broken Relationships where these objects could be received and housed. It would be good if along with the object the aggrieved lover would write a bit of a back story to the object and the relationship they had been in. Continue reading THE MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS : EXQUISITE

IT IS THE SEASON FOR BOOK AWARDS

The avant garde poet PiO, who published his first book in 1974, has won a major award. The poet, who changed his name after he fell in love with mathematics, last week won the $15,000 Judith Wright Calanthe Award in the Queensland Literary Awards for Heidi, a. 600 page epic about modern art and the world of the Reeds, Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester and Albert Tucker.

Other winners in the awards included Heartland,  Jo Gorman; fiction Stone Sky Gold Mountain, Miranda Riwoe; non fiction, Olive Cotton, Helen innes; short story award, Lucky Ticket, Joey Bui; David Unaipon award, The Space Between The Paperbark, Jazz Money.

Also presented last week were the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards. The $15,000 Australian prize went to James Dunk for Bedlum at Botany Bay. Other prizes included : general, The Warrior, The Voyager, and the Artist: Three Lives in an Age of Empire, Kate Fullagar; NSW community and regional prize, Surviving New England : A History of Aboriginal Resistance and Resilience Through the First Forty Years of Colonial Apocalype, Callum Richard Clayton-Dixon; young people’s, The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature, Pierre-Jacques Ober, Felicity Coonan and Jules Ober; and the digital prize, Experiment Street, Noelle Janaczewska.

The 2020 shortlist for the Booker Prize is The New Wilderness by Diane Cook, This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga,  Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi, The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, Real Life by Brandon Taylor.

The winner of this year’s Booker Prize will be announced on 17th November, 2020.

 

BETTY: A BLOCK BUSTER BEST SELLER

Redolent of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, BETTY is the kind of compelling storytelling that instills iris burning images, ear-worm prose, indelible characters and an innate sense of time and place.

Born sixth into a family of eight children, Betty is the fruit of a family tree that has grown with rotten roots, broken branches and fungus on the leaves, yet yields shade and cover and the hope of regeneration.

Betty is a storyteller, a gift instilled in her by her father’s oral repertoire of Cherokee myth, legend, lore and imagination, and given fervour by ardent reading. Voraciously devouring the shelves of her local library, she believed that the Great Creator had told the talented scribes to write her a father.

Dad is certainly a fabulous character, a teller of tall tales, parables a plenty, a gardener, herbalist and moonshiner.

“As for my father’s imagination, I believe that God had stepped on Dad’s mind. It was Steinbeck’s fault, he having dropped my father’s mind in the first place, which gave God the opportunity to step on it, leaving behind a small dent and the print of His foot.”

As for Betty’s mum, “My mother was a woman so lovely, mirrors grieved in absence of her.” But her psyche is damaged by incessant early childhood incest, a blight no amount of tender loving care by her husband can fully eradicate.

On one of her siblings, “My sister was just another girl doomed by politics and ancestral texts that say a girl’s destiny is to be wholesome, obedient and quietly attractive, but invisible when need be. Nailed to the cross of her own gender, a girl finds herself between the mother and the prehistoric rib, where there’s little space to be anything other than a daughter who lives alongside sons but is not equal to them. These boys who can howl like tomcats in heat, pawing their way through a feast of flesh, never to be called a slut or a whore like my sister was.”

BETTY is the story of a clan growing up in Breathed, Ohio, a story of anguish but so, too, of love. Betty’s dialogue becomes an insanity that then evolves into a metamorphosis of soul. Risen against all odds, if only to oppose and defy the suffering, she plots tales that commanded herself to survive.

“There are too many enemies in life to be one of yourself, so I decided to refuse hate’s ambition.”

BETTY by Tiffany McDaniel is published by W & N through Hachette

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL 60 YEARS 1960-2020

The Adelaide Festival , or Festival of the Arts as it was originally known , has now been going for an amazing 60 years.

This is a beautiful, large and heavy coffee table book. It is divided into nine ‘chapters’ and is lavishly illustrated throughout with both black and white and colour photos. At the back is a tabulation of sixty years of posters advertising the Festival, then a list of short biographies of the various contributors. It is not an archival, chronological record of the Festival but rather a collection of memories and photos.

The editor, Catherine McKinnon, is an award-winning novelist and playwright. She studied theatre performance and cinema at Flinders University. Her play ‘Tilt’ was selected for the 2010 National Playwriting Festival, and As I Lay Dreaming won the 2010 Mitch Matthews Award. Her short stories, reviews and articles have appeared in Transnational Literature, Text Journal, RealTime, Narrative and the Griffith Review.

McKinnon, along with four other writers, won the Griffith Review Novella 111 Award, 2015, and her novella ‘Will Martin’ was published by Griffith Review in October of that year. Her novel ‘Storyland’ was shortlisted for the 2018 Miles Franklin Award, the Barbara Jefferis Award and the Voss Award.

Contributors (over fifty of them!) range from previous Artistic Directors, performers in the Festival (some have been both) reviewers , lighting designers, publicists and other Adelaide luminaries.

The book looks at the problems of programming a Festival , ticketing the Festival, performing in a Festival and the massive successes , the dangerous accidents and near misses in performance. It also looks at the interconnectivity of people connected to the Festival , and we learn about various productions and their links to the history of Australian Dance Theatre,  the Australian Ballet,  Circus OZ, Bangarra, the Sydney Symphony etc.

Other passages are very personal : We read of Jim Sharman’s extended sojourn with the Festival since 1964 , how Akram Khan was a teenage performer in Brook’s ‘Mahabharata’ and has become Artistic Director of one of the world’s major dance companies , Annabel Crabb driving members of the Frankfurt Ballet to Maslin’s Beach, Rachel Healey being transfixed by Phillipe Genty’s puppets as a child.

In the opera world we learn that several productions as part of the Festival were the first performances of that work in Australia. WOMelaide, Writers Week and Artist’s Week are also part of the memories. There is also an article included by former SA premier Don Dunstan , who was a major supporter of the arts

It is fascinating to see that some events/productions are consistently mentioned as magical experiences – eg the 1980 Water Tunnel , Pina Bausch and her company visiting , Peter Brook’s Mahabharata and the opera Voss to name just a few. The inclusion of indigenous content in the Festival is also examined. The intersections of the various people exemplify how the Festival has become a major nucleus for the arts in South Australia.

The book asks – why Adelaide? Does Adelaide and its Festival have its own distinct personality? Can a performance change your life?

The Festival is both of and for the people – there is a great quote by its founder,Professor John Bishop OBE – to whom the Festival’s aim is to ‘ To do the extraordinary … to make possible that which otherwise would not happen ‘.

As Patrick McDonald says ‘ Diversity, inclusivity and creativity have been the consistent hallmarks of sixty years of Adelaide Festival openings. All that remains to be seen is what future fusions of imagination and technology will bring to its table’ .To quote Barry Kosky ‘ Long may it reverberate and rejoice’.

ADELAIDE FESTIVAL 60 YEARS 1960-2020 is published by Wakefield Press and available at all leading book retailers.
Category
Format Hardback
Size 255 x 255 mm
ISBN 9781743056882
Extent 296 pages

HARDIE GRANT ANNOUNCES THE CREATION OF HARDIE GRANT CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING

Hardie Grant is delighted to announce the creation of Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing, after acquiring full ownership of the former joint venture Hardie Grant Egmont.   

The acquisition reinforces Hardie Grant’s focus and investment in the children’s market and will accelerate the international growth of the award-winning children’s publisher as a refreshed, fully owned division of Australia’s largest independent publisher.

Nearly twenty years in the making, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing now boasts some of the biggest and best names in books for young readers, including the best-selling Billie B Brown author Sally Rippin, Australia’s favourite comedian Peter Helliar, and Megan Hess, the globally successful creator of the Claris picture books. With an impressive list of commercially successful, award-winning titles across all categories, and backed by the established international network of the Hardie Grant Publishing group, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing will now move to expand its current offices in Melbourne and Sydney and add presence in London and San Francisco.  Continue reading HARDIE GRANT ANNOUNCES THE CREATION OF HARDIE GRANT CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING

POLY: WHAT A CRACKER!

POLY. What a cracker!

Could POLY, Paul Dalgarno’s polymorphously perverse debut novel, be in pol position for one of the most pleasing reads published in the present pandemic.? Probably.

POLY plots the polyamory of Chris and Sarah Flood, married with two children, who have decided to open up their relationship, after suffering a sojourn in their conjugal life.

Sarah has taken to multi partnership with gusto, Chris less so, although he has started a romantic relationship with Biddy, a polydactyl theatrical who enjoys hugs and humps in equal measure.

Sarah’s flings are trysts of wanton abandon, latex lax, a wayward wind storming her out of domestic doldrums. Chris’s relationship with Biddy takes the more romantic route.
In any case, their relationship remains revolved around their children, and their new life of polyamory presents problems and challenges with rotating parenting. It also creates tensions with friends, acquaintances, and work colleagues.

POLY is polymerous, beginning like an A grade erotic rom-com, a Four Flings and a Fingering, as you were, and ending in thriller mode, an every parents’ nightmare scenario.

Dalgarno is disarmingly adept at depicting his inner city dwellers facing self esteem issues as they confront the twilight of their youth and try to reign in their renegade responsibilities.

Polyamory, as freeing as it may be philosophically, carries its own responsibilities, pitfalls, and compromises, and, as his funny, honest, and nimble narrative illustrates, is never quite free of the pangs of jealousy and rejection.

Erect me don’t reject me is one of Chris’ silent, plaintiff cries to his promiscuous spouse. “She was looking for me but didn’t know it, had to go through the process of elimination with every other man on the planet.”

But then, as Sarah so eloquently opines, “People in glass houses should not throw moss and every cloud has a silver bullet.”

POLY by Paul Dalgarno is published by Ventura Press.

BFI FILM CLASSICS: REJACKETED & REBOOTED

Almost 30 years since its inception, and with 200 titles in print, the BFI’s Film Classics series is relaunching with a fresh new cover approach and new titles. This signals a change of focus, with women, LGBTIQ+, black, Asian, mixed ethnicity and the Global South to be foregrounded in films selected for the series and authors commissioned to write about them.

The BFI and its publishing partner, Bloomsbury, relaunch the series with 20 titles. This comprises three brand new books: Babette’s Feast by philosopher Julian Baggini, Touch of Evil by poet and art critic Richard Deming and Rosemary’s Baby by author and academic Michael Newton.

Seventeen series favourites are also being reissued including: A.L. Kennedy on Powell & Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Camille Paglia on Hitchcock’s The Birds, Ed Guerrero on Spike Lee’s Do the
Right Thing and Marita Sturken’s take on Thelm & Louise.

Reissues include new forewords by their authors highlighting the films’ contemporary relevance to issues such as #MeToo, Brexit,
the rise of Trump and police victimisation of young African Americans.

In addition, in a major cover refresh, each book features
specially commissioned cover artwork by leading illustrators, designers and photographers.

Forthcoming titles in the series include film critic and scholar Rebecca Harrison on The Empire Strikes Back, feminist scholar and advocate
Patricia White writing on Hitchcock’s Rebecca and writer and activist So Mayer on Sally Potter’sOrlando.

Founded in 1992, the BFI Film Classics series grew out of an initiative of the National Film and Television Archive (NFTVA), now known as the BFI National Archive, to build a collection of 360 key films in the history of cinema. Authors published in the book series include Salman Rushdie, Manohla Dargis, Amy Taubin, Simon Callow, Marina Warner, Greil Marcus and Mark Kermode.

BFI FILM CLASSICS are published by Bloomsbury.

https://www.bloomsbury.com/au/superpage/bfi-film-classics/

INTERNATIONAL BAD SYDNEY CRIME WRITERS FESTIVAL

The International Bad Sydney Crime Writers Festival has gone online this year.

It’s your chance to immerse yourself in a virtual 4 day crime festival.

Hear top Scandi noir writers like Jo Nesbe, outstanding UK writer Ann Cleeves, revered US author Don Winslow and more in a crime extravaganza.

Sessions are $10, a Festival pass is only $50.

https://www.badsydney.com/

 

 

NIB LITERARY AWARD 2020 SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED

The shortlist for the 2020 Mark and Evette Moran Literary Award, known as ‘the Nib’, has been announced.

The shortlisted titles are:

  • After the Count: The death of Davey Browne (Stephanie Convery, Viking)
  • Fathoms: The world in the whale (Rebecca Giggs, Scribe)
  • The Deceptions (Suzanne Leal, A&U)
  • Friends and Rivals: Four Great Australian Writers—Barbara Baynton, Ethel Turner, Nettie Palmer, Henry Handel Richardson (Brenda Niall, Text)
  • The Hilton Bombing: Evan Pederick and the Ananda Marga (Imre Salusinszky, MUP)
  • The Stranger Artist: Life at the edge of Kimberley painting (Quentin Sprague, Hardie Grant).

Each shortlisted author receives an Alex Buzo Shortlist Prize of $1000, and voting for the $1000 Nib People’s Choice Prize is open to the public until 1 October. Continue reading NIB LITERARY AWARD 2020 SHORTLIST ANNOUNCED