Stella Prize 2021 Longlist Predictions

The Stella Prize 2021 longlist will be announced tomorrow night (tune in here).

Unlike the judges, I’ve only read a dozen or so eligible books but I’m aware of a bunch that keep crossing my radar. On that rather flimsy basis, I’m predicting the longlist*. Continue reading

Loner by Georgina Young

I was only halfway through Loner by Georgina Young when I sent a text message to one of my oldest friends telling her that she had to read it because it was like someone had stolen our uni years and put them in a book. Every word of this delightful novel felt real.

The story is about Lona – she has dropped out of her art course at uni, and while her best friend, Tab, immerses herself in university life, Lona works at Planet Skate on Friday nights and at a supermarket during the week. She has lost her creative direction (and questions whether it ever existed). There’s lots of angst.

It’s not enough to respond to a prompt. It’s not enough to subvert or to push back on the assessment criteria. Not when she relied on the rubric in the first place, to know what she should be pushing back on, to define the trajectory of her small artistic and conceptual rebellions.
Continue reading

Hysteria by Katerina Bryant

‘…the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’ (H.P. Lovecraft)

Katerina Bryant’s memoir, Hysteria, recounts her search for a diagnosis for chronic illness. Bryant was experiencing seizures, episodes that struck without warning and where she felt disconnected from her body.The seizures left her feeling anxious, exhausted and increasingly fearful of participating in ordinary activities. Continue reading

Sample Saturday – friends, more friends, and boundaries

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. This week, three from the list of books I was looking forward to in 2020: Continue reading

Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

How did people go on with their lives as though death weren’t all around them?

After reading Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh, I decided that if I had to host one of those ‘choose five guests’ dinner parties, Ottessa would be on the list. She’s so weird. She’d probably make me a little nervous as a host… But I also reckon she’d have a ripping sense of humour. Continue reading

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey

Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey made lots of ‘best of 2020′ lists, and I find it hard to pass by a memoir that garners so much praise.

Natasha describes the events leading to her mother’s violent death, and how her experience of grief and trauma has shaped her work (Trethewey is a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet).

Three decades is a long time to get to know the contours of loss, to become intimate with one’s own bereavement. You get used to it. Most days it is a distant thing, always on the horizon, sailing toward me with it’s difficult cargo. Continue reading

Make it Scream, Make it Burn by Leslie Jamison

There were stories in Leslie Jamison’s first essay collection, The Empathy Exams, that I still think about more than five years after reading them. And it’s remarkable how regularly I refer others to particular essays written by Jamison. I suspect it will be the same with her latest collection, Make it Scream, Make it Burn.

So which particular essays will I be pressing on people, and why? Continue reading