The Mint Lawn by Gillian Mears

Phew. I found The Mint Lawn by Gillian Mears intense. And dense. I was expecting to become completely absorbed (as I did with Foal’s Bread) but instead, I got bogged down in heavy prose, the shifting timeline, and emotionally taxing characters.

The story is set in the fictional town of Jacaranda, on the north coast of New South Wales (I believe Jacaranda is based on the town of Grafton). Clementine, aged twenty-five and married to her high-school music teacher, Hugh, is still living in the place where she grew up, bound by memories and her inability to make sense of past events. Told from Clementine’s point-of-view, the story rotates around her sisters, her parents (Ventry and Cairo), her grandmother, Hugh and her lover.

But it is one of those memory stories that has accumulated colours and meanings more potent than the event itself. Continue reading

‘Eleven Seasons’ by Paul D. Carter

I couldn’t resist a coming-of-age story about footy and my home town, Melbourne (not to mention the fact that it’s Australian Literature Month, hosted by Reading Matters) – so I picked up Eleven Seasons by Paul D. Carter.

“Melbourne, 1985. Jason Dalton sits on his bed and counts his football cards, dreaming of the day he too is immortalized in the public eye. He’s young and gifted, a natural player who can do anything with the ball in his hand. If only everything else in his life was as obvious to him as playing. Gold Coast, 1991. The bottom has fallen out of Jason’s life; he’s now a high-school dropout, tired and wasted on the Gold Coast, with an explosive family secret still ringing in his ears. He needs to get his life back. But first he needs to find out who he is.”

The aspect of this book that appealed to me most was the setting – Melbourne in the eighties and early nineties (despite the blurb above, it’s not about Brisbane). More specifically, Eleven Seasons is set in the suburbs where I grew up (and where I still live) – references to Victoria Park in Hawthorn, Burnley train station, the Fun Factory in South Yarra and a crumby student flat opposite the cemetery in Carlton could have all been scenes lifted from my life.

“They park on Drummond Street, half a kilometre from Princes Park, in what Dean calls ‘the secret spot’ – a disused parking bay behind housing commission flats.” (every footy fan has a ‘secret parking spot’) Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2013

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Resolutions. Some years I embrace them, other years I save time and discard all thoughts of them one minute into the New Year. I have no grand plans for 2013, short of a vague desire to ‘get back on the water’ (in my life before kids I rowed. I miss it. Every time I see a crew on the Yarra there’s a twinge of envy. Maybe 2013 is the year to get back in a boat… Just to see if I still love it as much as I did then).

But on to resolutions I can keep. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new ‘top ten’ challenge is posted – anyone can join in. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2013.

So I’m cheating a little on this. My first five book resolutions are actually book lists… See what I did there? I cleverly turned a Top Ten into a Top Forty (of fifty… or sixty). Continue reading