Melbourne Writers Festival 2019 – the last bit

I’m hopelessly late reporting on my last two 2019 Melbourne Writers Festival events, but both were fantastic and worth a mention.

Corey White – The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory

I think my favourite session this Festival was comedian Corey White talking with Sarah Krasnostein about his memoir, The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory. Continue reading

Melbourne Writers Festival 2019 – the middle bit

Two more events!

Powerful Landmarks

In a stroke of scheduling genius, MWF organisers put Enza Gandolfo (author of The Bridge) and Kristina Olsson (author of Shell) together to discuss how built structures can be representative of difficult pasts and uncertain futures. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (Winter) 2019 – Challenge Complete

The 20 Books of Summer reading challenge drew to a close on Melbourne’s first distinctly-Spring-like day (it was 21 degrees here yesterday and glorious). I don’t have trouble reading 20 books in the allotted time (this year I read 20.5 hard copies and listened to six audiobooks) however I am a bit behind on reviews… Continue reading

Melbourne Writers Festival 2019 – the first bit

Can you see Tayari Jones in the pic above? She looks tiny but I had to show off the magnificent Capitol Theatre, one of the venues for this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival.

I managed four sessions on my first Festival day. The highlights: Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. Saw Michael Pollan talk about his latest book, How to Change Your Mind, at Melbourne Town Hall last week (we’re so lucky to have the Wheeler Centre organising these events for Melburnians). His stories about his research were very entertaining. (pic via MMA) Continue reading

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

Sorry in advance – The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton is one of those books that I can’t say much about, for fear of spoilers.

It’s the story of teenager, Jaxie Clackton. Jaxie’s mum died and his relationship with his dad is violent. 

…when everyone went home after the funeral and I finished putting all them casseroles in the freezer I stood in the lounge in my good duds and the Captain sat out on the back patio drinking homebrew and rum. Arm over arm. Neither one of us said nothing. We both knew there was never gunna be anything good again.

Jaxie decides to leave, taking off across the vast saltlands of Western Australia. There he meets Fintan MacGillis, an old Irishman, on his own for very different reasons than Jaxie. What happens next changes both their lives. Continue reading

Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee

17% of Australian women aged 15 years and over will experience sexual assault.

1 in 6 assaults reported to police result in a conviction (so this says nothing about all the cases that are not reported).

In a legal system where the accused perpetrator may choose to say nothing and the victim must relive their trauma over and over and over again in the witness-box; be cross-examined; and have their ‘story’ judged by a jury, you can only think, “Why would you go through it?”.

Bri Lee did. Eggshell Skull is her harrowing story. Continue reading

Woman of Substances by Jenny Valentish

I saw author Jenny Valentish speak at last year’s Melbourne Writers Festival. At the time, I hadn’t read her memoir, Woman of Substances – I often wonder how much my thoughts about a book are influenced by hearing the author speak before I’ve read it. Invariably their passion and post-publication reflections rub-off, and I go into the reading experience ‘looking out’ for certain things, which is why I left Woman of Substances almost a year before picking it up.

Woman of Substances is a memoir-research hybrid. Valentish uses her own experience of drugs and alcohol to explore how women deal with addiction and treatment. There are two main threads in the book – firstly, Valentish examines how trauma and self-destructive behaviours – such as eating disorders and high-risk sex – complicate substance use for women.

There’s an illusion of power in being as sexually aggressive as men are allowed to be, but it can sometimes take a stupefying blood-alcohol level to override the misgivings. Continue reading