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

My Best Books for 2020

I did away with ‘top tens’ a few years ago, and instead I finish the reading year with a recap of the books that are still speaking to me (less about four and five-star ratings, more about what has stuck). Continue reading

The best of lockdown

 

Has there ever been such a grim title? Sorry, it’s the Pollyanna in me. I started writing Things That Are Making Me Happy posts seven months ago, when Melbourne went into its first lockdown. There was a brief gap between lockdowns one and two, but not enough for anything to feel ‘normal’. For me, that’s changed in the last two weeks and being able to see family and friends, and enjoy some dinners out, has been marvelous.

So, before I immerse myself in Melbourne’s ‘new normal’, I thought I’d remind myself of the highlights of ‘happy’. Here’s a quick summary of the best stuff – Continue reading

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird

I didn’t need much convincing about the importance of feeling ‘wonder and awe’ when I started reading Julia Baird’s part-memoir-part-essay-collection, Phosphorescence. The book begins with Baird’s experience of ocean swimming. I know the feelings she describes. I know those feelings from the sea. I know those feelings every time I look up at the clouds. I know those feelings when I gaze at the muddy sweep of the Yarra.

Something happens when you dive into a world where clocks don’t tick and inboxes don’t ping. As your arms circle, swing and pull along the edge of a vast ocean, your mind wanders, and you open yourself to awe, to the experience of seeing something astonishing, unfathomable or greater than yourself. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from How to do Nothing to The Memory Pool

It’s time for #6degrees. Start at the same place as other wonderful readers, add six books, and see where you end up. Continue reading

Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth

I could make my review of Emma Jane Unsworth’s latest novel, Adults, all about gin, because the (23) gin-related scenes are glorious. For example –

‘OH MY GOD.’
‘What?’
‘GET ME A GIN, MOTHER.’
She gets me a gin. I am in the same position when she comes up: calcified. I take the gin without moving my face or indeed any part of myself.

and

‘Right,’ says my mother. ‘Do you want a gin?’
‘Yes please,’ says Nicolette. My mother runs off.
‘Don’t let her make you a gin,’ I say. ‘You’ll never get out of bed again. She does all-inclusive-package-holiday measures.’

But a review of gin scenes probably won’t inform your decision about whether to read this book. Actually, knowing my blog readers, it might… Continue reading

Yarra Valley Writers Festival

There are some upsides to our COVID-19 isolation. For example, events turning into online affairs. Such was the case with today’s Yarra Valley Writers Festival – had it been held as was intended (a weekend of author talks in the Yarra Valley), I would not have been able to attend, but with the cancellation of weekend sports and the Festival moved online, I was able to enjoy the full program.

The Festival was live-streamed over ten hours. I ‘attended’ eight sessions, which covered topics ranging from bushfires and nature, to grief, families and religion. Too much to recap, so instead some soundbites: Continue reading