Books & Writing

A STAR ON HER DOOR : THE LIFE AND CAREER OF JUNE BRONHILL

This is an affectionate, delightful look at the life of June Bronhill, one of Australia’s theatrical legends, by Richard Davis.

The book has twelve chapters, a list of June’s stage performances (this reviewer saw her several times in various productions), a list of the recordings she made and a select bibliography as well as an index and a loving forward by Marina Prior. All the photos included are in black and white.

June’s career included performances in grand opera, comic opera/operetta, musicals, straight plays, variety, radio, concerts, television and assorted recordings. Her extraordinary talent brought her success, fame and the devotion of a legion of fans. There was a private June the public rarely saw. Continue reading A STAR ON HER DOOR : THE LIFE AND CAREER OF JUNE BRONHILL

DEAD LETTERS: A LIVELY READ

Veteran journalist Michael Brissenden carved out another career niche a few years ago with the publication of THE LIST, a thriller of exceptionally high calibre.

Just to show that it was no fluke and that he is no one hit wonder, Brissenden has written a sequel, DEAD LETTERS. It’s a cracker.

Furthering the adventures of Federal cop and Afghanistan veteran, Sid Allen, DEAD LETTERS contains the same crisp characterisation and wry psychological, sociological and political observations, reminiscent of Peter Corris.

This time round, Sid’s assignment has been sparked by the political assassination of Daniel LeRoi, MP, who Sid served with in Afghanistan. He’s found shot dead together with a member of a Mexican drug cartel. LeRoi was part of a parliamentary task force looking into money laundering and political party donations.

Sid’s investigation coincides with journalist Zephyr Wilde’s investigation of a cold case murder of a brothel madam two decades ago. It’s personal because the victim was Zephyr’s mother. And it becomes personal for Sid as romantic entanglement and professional probity collide.

Older members of his team may marvel that the police force is more multicultural now that it was when it was run by Micks and Masons, but those same older members are part of a not so distant dirty past.

L.P. Hartley famously wrote “The past is a foreign country” and in DEAD LETTERS that foreign country is threatening invasion on the present, a contemporary constituency based on corruption at the highest levels. Its defence is repellent.

A fardel of nefarious acts fan the flames of intrigue, betrayal, and suspense. Where Sid goes, trouble is a fellow traveller and Brissenden barrels the journey at urgent speed and tremendous zest, playing into our mistrust of politicians to produce a thriller as relentless as the 24 hour news cycle.

As with The List, verisimilitude veritably oozes out of every twist and turn thanks to Brissenden’s thirty years as a journalist and foreign correspondent, including a stint as the ABC’s Defence and National Security Correspondent.

His knowledge and authority on Canberra and the way things play in the capital shine through and his narrative style confirms his star in the firmament of stellar crime writing

‘The List’ promised a gripping start to a great series. DEAD LETTERS makes good on that promise.

DEAD LETTERS by Michael Brissenden is published by Hachette

DEAD IN THE WATER : DRY ARGUMENT BE DAMNED

Laugh like a drain, seriously, reading Richard Beasley’s DEAD IN THE WATER, probably the most seriously funny or funnily serious book you’ll read this year.

DEAD IN THE WATER is a very angry book about our greatest environmental catastrophe – the death of the Murray Darling Basin – and the flow of disdain and outright outrage from Beasley is damning.

Beasley is a Senior Counsel at the New South Wales Bar and was Senior Counsel Assisting at the Murray-Darling Royal Commission, established by the South Australian Weatherill Government in 2018 conducted by Commissioner Bret Walker SC. He had a front row seat at his nomination for the low point of public administration and governance in Australia so far this century. Continue reading DEAD IN THE WATER : DRY ARGUMENT BE DAMNED

SLOUGH HOUSE : A SLEW OF SPIES

Smiert spionam. Death to Spies. It’s straight out of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale.

But SLOUGH HOUSE is not a James Bond adventure, rather the next best thing, or to some, the better thing, while we wait for the next oft postponed 007 cinematic saga.

The seventh in the series concerning a section of secret service stuff-ups, SLOUGH HOUSE begins in James Bond style with the book equivalent of a pre-title sequence that is simply thrilling and all too plausible.

With a plot device ripped from the headlines, SLOUGH HOUSE writhes and wriggles and seethes with the recent employment of poisons by the Russian security services to perceived enemies of the state, both within its own borders and abroad.

And even though the Slow Horses, the appellation given to the operatives of Slough House have been erased from British Secret Service records, the Russians seem to be working from old intelligence and therefore does not protect them from being targeted.

Author Mick Herron knows the secret of the narrative art, working up to a climax at the end of each chapter, unrelenting and unrelieved, juggling plot, character and zinger observations which holds the reader hostage and compels them to press on.

Utterly disgraceful and highly enjoyable, the slovenly principal of Slough House, Jackson Lamb continues to command his band of espionage errorists while happily trammelling political correctness – chain smoking, farting, belching, and generally being vulgar in word and deed.

This not so civil servant of Her Majesty’s Secret Service nevertheless gets the job done, not afraid to to offend in the defence of the realm.

Poison, paranoia, the global pandemic of populist politicians and the privatisation of public assets and security provide the panoply of plot in a spy story that is astute, acerbic and exhilarating.

SLOUGH HOUSE, as are its six antecedents, is altogether a thriller deluxe, tense, ice cold, sophisticated and laugh out loud funny.

SLOUGH HOUSE by Mick Herron is published by John Murray.

TIM OLSEN AUTOBIOGRAPHY : SON OF THE BRUSH

Tim Olsen’s autobiography SON OF THE BRUSH is a glorious, fascinating read full of joy and warmth that is contrasted with pain and tragedy . It is quite intimately revealing and frank at times, giving a compelling insight into the Australian art scene. There is a table of contents at the front, an index and bibliography at the back and quite a few illustrations. Tim, who runs the Olsen Gallery in Sydney, is the son of one of Australia’s best known artists John Olsen (think Salute to Five Bells at the Opera House for example) and the book also considers how he has struggled to find his own identity rather than living in the shadow of his famous father, as well as his battle with illness and alcoholism.

Olsen was born into a life of modern and contemporary art. The art came first; an absolute vocation for John Olsen, with the family focused on it. John Olsen, at 92, regarded as one of Australia’s greatest artists, is still painting large-scale canvases at his Bowral home in the New South Wales Southern Highlands. To the young Tim, his father was a deity, a ‘sun king’, whom he revered. Continue reading TIM OLSEN AUTOBIOGRAPHY : SON OF THE BRUSH

THE SPIRAL : A NEW THRILLER BY IAIN RYAN

Novelist Iain Ryan. Pic by Shanny Higgins Photography

Death and violence are always a great pitch.

So says Erma Bridges, the protagonist in Iain Ryan’s mind fuck thriller, THE SPIRAL.

Erma is an academic specialising in gamebooks, and those of author Archibald Moder, in particular.

Moder is an ex psychoanalyst and a real peculiar in this particular.

Ryan’s narrative plays out in two realms, which interweave and intersect, inciting incidents that propel the protagonist into the plot, in this case, spiralling around a set of conjoined narratives. Continue reading THE SPIRAL : A NEW THRILLER BY IAIN RYAN

EMPOWERING STORIES OF FEMALE LEADERS WHO SAID YNOT

“This book is for those who feel that their own hopes and dreams have been laid waste so others can live theirs. This book is for you and only you. Read it. Digest it. Live got.” Shar Moore

From the trauma of divorce and heartbreak, the emotional rollercoaster of IVF and chronic anxiety to childhood stress, illness, and depression, this is a book about women empowering women. When life sends us challenges, it takes a strong woman to stand up, face them head on and reclaim her power. The amazing women portrayed in this collection achieved this by asking themselves one simple question. YNot?

This book has been compiled by Shar Moore, a multi-award winning author, keynote speaker and publisher. Shar’s own Y-Not moments feature as well as the moments and stories of  Ronnie Benbow, Elena Gosse, Robyn Ratcliff, Moana Robinson, Min Melgar, Michelle Scheibner, Susan Banhegyi, Karlie Scharfenberg, Catherine Wood, Kate Witteveen, Kylie Chapman, Cathy Feenan, Juanita Smith, Lara Zelenka, Aldwyn Altuney, Michele Jones, Tanya Southey and Karen McDermott.

What you need to Know:-

Title: Empowering Stories from females leaders who said Ynot

Author: Shar Moore

Publisher: KMD Books in partnership with Sharanis Publishing House

ISBN: 978-0-6489123-6-1(sc)

ISBN: 978-0-6489123-7-8(c)

http://www.sharmoore.com.au

http://www.amazon.com.au

http://www.bookutopia.com.au

Featured image: Elena Gosse whose story is one of the many stories featured in Shar Moore’s book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNOW: ICE COLD IRISH MYSTERY

It’s not hard to pick the motive of the murder of a priest and his subsequent castration in John Banville’s SNOW.

Set during a particularly harsh winter in 1957 Ireland, the incident was probably more shocking and the motive more muddied, but even then, suspicion of pedophile priests was an open secret, although publicly suppressed by the Catholic Church.

The murder and mutilation occurs in an upper class Protestant home and the detective assigned the investigation, St John Strafford is also a Protestant.

The rock spider priest was somewhat of a social climber and did not discriminate by denomination when it came to his abomination. Continue reading SNOW: ICE COLD IRISH MYSTERY

DELIA FALCONER’S ‘SYDNEY’: A NEW EDITION

Delia Falconer author pic

Sydney has always been the sexiest and brashest of our cities, but perhaps  the most misunderstood. In this new edition of Sydney, Delia Falconer  conjures up its sandstone, humidity and jacarandas, its fireworks, glitz and  magic. But she discards lazy stereotypes to reveal a complex city: beautiful,  violent, half-wild, and at times deeply spiritual. 

Beginning with her childhood in a decaying ’70s Sydney, caught between  a faded Art Deco age and mega development, Falconer intertwines her  own stories with the wellsprings of the city’s history and its literary past.  Melancholic, moving and funny, Sydney is intensely atmospheric and  seductive.  Continue reading DELIA FALCONER’S ‘SYDNEY’: A NEW EDITION

CHRISTMAS TALES: ONE FOR THE STOCKING

I have to thank William McInnes for putting me onto Lyrics for Lovers, the spoken word album by Dirk Bogard.

In McInnes’ latest book, CHRISTMAS TALES, he recounts that his mum used to play a few tracks on Christmas morning, “her idea of a bit of festive fun because this record is beyond the entertainingly terrible.”

To the contrary, the album is terribly entertaining, and the same can be said of CHRISTMAS TALES.

Steeped in Yule tide nostalgia, McInnes is an unapologetic Christmas tragic, reveling in past festive season revels with family and friends, and musing over the competing Christian and Capitalist iconography of the celebration.

The young McInnes, ‘Cabbagehead’, engages his dad in conversations and discussions on the players in the Nativity scene as well as the origins of Santa Claus, philosophical musings regarding the spiritual and the commercial aspects of Christmas.

For some reason, Where Eagles Dare became McInnes and his brother’s Christmas movie and the games he and his brother make up over its television screenings with something called a Clint-ometer, a tradition that is carried over to this very day.

Of course, before McInness became a bestselling author – CHRISTMAS TALES is his eleventh book – he was an actor (still is) and there’s many an actor – myself included – that has donned the big red suit and white wig and beard. He too did duty in the Claus-trophobic face mask, a role he was grateful to be “unsuited”.

But before he played Santa, he incongruously was cast as an elf, a six foot four helper to a Communist Claus who delighted in singing Have Yourself A Marxist Little Christmas.

Although CHRISTMAS TALES is a collection of stories, it’s best to read them in order as the narratives evolve and reference is made of Christmases past. Adult McInnes memory is triggered to instances of younger Will, Bill, Cabbagehead, Old Cock or whatever appellation he was under at the time.

Unabashedly, CHRISTMAS TALES is a message of joy to the world, for it needs all the joy it can get.

CHRISTMAS TALES by William McInnes is published by Hachette

THE ART BOOK : NEW EDITION

Very thick and heavy,  lavishly,  lushly illustrated, this new edition also contains a glossary of technical terms, another of artistic movements and an index. Over 500 of the greatest artists from the Middle Ages to the present day are included in this impressive, glossy new edition.

Arranged in alphabetical order , from Berenice Abbott and Maina Abramovic to Francesco Zuccarelli and Francisco de Zurburan , each artist has a one paragraph biography and is represented by just one image of their work. Artists they were influenced by or are similar in style to are cross referenced. The dates of the artists’ lives are down the bottom of the page as is the date and media of the work. Painting, photography, sculpture, conceptual and performance art are included but not architecture. Continue reading THE ART BOOK : NEW EDITION

AUSTRALIAN INDIE BOOK AWARDS: LONG LIST FOR HOLIDAY READING

Established in 2008, the Indie Book Awards celebrate the best Australian writing; and who better to nominate and judge the best-of-the-best than indie booksellers!

What makes indie booksellers uniquely placed to judge and recommend the best Aussie books of the past year, is their incredible passion and knowledge, their contribution to the cultural diversity of the Australian reading public, by recommending beyond the big brands, and above all, their love of quality writing. The Awards recognise and celebrate indie booksellers as the number one supporters of Australian authors.

Leanne Kadareanu, Head of Books at Leading Edge Retail, proud facilitator of the awards says, “We are excited to announce the Longlist for the Indie Book Awards 2021. What a year it’s been. But amidst the chaos, an amazing array of Australian titles have been published, and independent booksellers across the country have continued to champion and promote great Australian writing. Despite this year’s uncertainty and ever-changing retail environment, independent booksellers have stayed strong and continued to do what they do best – recommend books – to help understand ourselves and the world we live in, and worlds to escape to. This year’s Indie Book Awards Longlist reflects the importance of Australian books and celebrates booksellers’ favourites in such a unique time.” Continue reading AUSTRALIAN INDIE BOOK AWARDS: LONG LIST FOR HOLIDAY READING

BOOKS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS

Turn Santa’s sack into a book bonanza filled with satire, science and scallywaggery, a Christmas cornucopia of Capricornian crime, comedy, conspiracy and chemistry.

A stocking filler full of science fact, DR. KARL’S SURFING SAFARI THROUGH SCIENCE catches the wave of interest in climate change, carbon corralling, and how to make the best coffee.

The Universe is expanding and so is our knowledge and Dr. Karl is hell bent in educating us in the most entertaining way.

From the biology of self repairing lungs to transient anuses to the astronomically astonishing migrating planets and immeasurable black holes, and to the current crisis of coronavirus and how copper may cause it to come a cropper. Continue reading BOOKS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS

FOR GALLANTRY: AUSTRALIANS AWARDED THE GEORGE CROSS AND THE CROSS OF VALOUR

‘Courageous behaviour comes in many forms. For Gallantry tells the remarkable true stories of some of Australia’s most selfless people. A beautifully illustrated work that keeps you captivated from the first page.’ — Dan Keighran VC

From the frozen wastes of Antarctica to the burning ruins of the Bali bombings, Craig Blanch’s ‘For Gallantry: Australians awarded the George Cross & the Cross of Valour’ tells the stories of the 28 Australians awarded the nation’s highest non-combat awards for bravery: the Imperial George Cross and its Australian Honours and Awards replacement, the Cross of Valour. From teachers and farmers to defence force members and firefighters, theirs are stories of incredible physical and moral courage. More than a quarter of the recipients were awarded posthumously – testimony to the selflessness recognised by the decorations. For Gallantry profiles their heroic actions in a dedicated volume for the first time. Continue reading FOR GALLANTRY: AUSTRALIANS AWARDED THE GEORGE CROSS AND THE CROSS OF VALOUR

LETTER TO MY TEN YEAR OLD SELF: A LABOUR OF LOVE

Author Kati Britton

A book of positive nurturing for the self; ‘A Letter to My 10-Year-Old Self’ is a collection of  letters written by adults that navigated pain and adversity  

During 2020, 25 people in this newly released anthology took on the  task of reflecting on their lives as they were at the age of ten. They considered what had already come  to pass and what was yet to come. Each author has written a letter of encouragement to their 10-year old self. The stories that unfolded in the writing are tainted with the grief of loss, earth-shattering  illnesses, feelings of abandonment and true bravery in the face of adversity.  

Kati Britton’s story is about ‘The Oath’ she made to herself at the age of 10.  

“My letter is an honest and true insight into the curveballs that life happens to throw at you, at the  least expected times in life” she said.  Continue reading LETTER TO MY TEN YEAR OLD SELF: A LABOUR OF LOVE

DYMOCKS BOOK OF THE YEAR: CRAIG SILVEY’S ‘HONEYBEE’

Dymocks announced ‘Honeybee’ by Craig Silvey as its 2020 Book of the Year.

Dymocks booksellers across Australia voted for the books they loved most this year. Silvey’s book was the clear winner from a shortlist of 6, achieving 40% more votes than the runner-up.

Kate Mayor, Dymocks Category Manager, said the book was a worthy winner, deserving of bestseller status.

“’Honeybe’e is nothing short of a Great Australian Novel. It has unforgettable characters, a depth of emotion that plummets and soars, and a beautifully told story that will make you feel richer for having read it. Our booksellers know a true classic when they read one, and their overwhelming response to ‘Honeybee’ speaks for itself. Here at Dymocks we want to congratulate author Craig Silvey, who is an incredibly talented Australian storyteller and worthy winner of our Book of the Year.”

Kate Mayor said the announcement will not only have signficant impact on Dymocks sales but also across the wider book market. Last year’s winner, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens was at #252 in the bookscan charts the week prior to announcement as 2019 Book of the Year. By the end of January 2020 it was the #3 book in the country.

Sales of 2018 winner, ‘Boy Swallows Universe’, tripled in the week after it was announced, catapulting it to bestseller status. Sales to date across Dymocks network have topped 47,000.

On winning the prestigious award, Craig Silvey said, “I’m thrilled and deeply honoured that HONEYBEE has been awarded Dymocks Book of the Year, particularly given the calibre and talent possessed by the shortlisted writers. My sincere gratitude to Dymocks Books – not only for their belief in HONEYBEE, but for their continued support and advocacy for Australian authors and their stories.”

Kate Mayor said the best thing about Dymocks Book of the Year is helping a book we love find a whole new audience of readers.

“With our previous winners ‘Boy Swallows Univers’e and ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’, we have shown that our Dymocks Book of the Year makes bestsellers. The special ingredient there is that our Well-read team know the kind of stories that truly resonate with our Booklovers and with the wider community. And our staff love nothing more than sharing their favourite reads with you. We had such a stellar shortlist of books by Australian authors this year, which speaks to the strength of our homegrown talent. Dymocks are really proud to play our part in getting these books into the hands of readers.”

Featured image: Craig Silvey

 

 

MARK AND EVETTE MORAN NIB LITERARY AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED

The Mark & Evette Moran Nib Literary Award presented by Waverley Council  celebrates excellence in research and writing in Australia. It is the only major national literary award of its kind presented by a local council.

The winner of the 2020  Mark and Evette Moran NIB Literary Award , worth $20,000, was Rebecca Giggs book ‘The World in the Whale’ published by Scribe Publications.

The winning book blends natural history, science and philosophy in a work of narrative non-fiction. Through her engaging prose, Rebecca Giggs explores how the lives of whales can not only shed light on the condition of our seas and the environment, but the very core of humanity.

This year’s Mark and Evette Moran NIB People’s Choice Winner, worth $1,000,  was ‘The Deceptions’  by Suzanne Leal, published by Allen and Unwin. ‘The Deceptions’ garnered more than half of the total votes received in the public vote.

Leal’s book was  inspired by a true story. The novel moves from wartime Europe to modern day Australia and traces the legacy of long-buried family secrets.

http://www.waverley.nsw.gov.au

 

 

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