Jan Goldsmith and David McLean
Jan Goldsmith and David McLean chat with authors each Thursday at 11.30am.
‘Published or Not’ is on podcasts at 3cr.org.au/publishedornot
David’s year in full.
I started with fairy tales. Mary Parker’s ‘Fairy Tales Written by Rabbits’ was one of the self published works with Ken Fox’s ‘Cassocked Savage’ being the other.
Adolescent fiction featured Leanne Hall’s ‘Iris and the Tiger, Kimberley Starr’s ‘The Book of Whispers’ and David Metzenthen’s, ‘Dreaming the Enemy’. Zana Fraillon’s ‘The Bone Sparrow’ was set in a detention centre giving it immediacy. And survival was the key on ‘The Road to Winter’ by Mark Smith. Kate Mildenhall took us back to early Australia in ‘Skylarking’.
There was poetry with Georgia Arnott’s partial biography on Judith Wright and Ellen van Neerven’s collection, ‘Comfort Food’.
Curiosities abounded. Nick Richardson looked at an historical football game in ‘The Game of their Lives’. Barry Jones took on the best of music and literature in ‘The Shock of Recognition’. Our own 3CR projects coordinator, Juliet Fox, talked about a book celebrating 3CR’s 40th birthday. Lisa Dempster came in again to talk about the Melbourne Writers Festival and Duncan McNab gave us the low done on Roger Rogerson in the book of the same name.
Leigh Hopkinson took us into the world of striptease in ‘Two Decade Naked’ which was just one of the memoirs we looked at. We shouldn’t forget Brett Pierce’s account of his time as an aid worker in ‘Beyond the Vapour Trail’ or Hugo Race’s life as a musician in ‘Road Series’. Ruth Clare’s account of the effect of the Vietnam War on her family was compelling in ‘Enemy’. Catherine de Saint Phalle revealed her unique and curious French upbringing in ‘Poum and Alexandre’. Lee Zachariah’s account of recent political goings on in ‘Double Dissolusion’ was also a means by which he addressed his own marriage break up.
Romance snuck in of both a literary and conventional kind. Mark Lamprell took us to Roem in ‘The Lover’s Guide to Rome’. Luke Devenish was a bit more historical in ‘The Secret Heiress’. C.S.Pacat, of course, continued her homoerotic approach in ‘Princes Gambit’ which was the third installment in the Captive Prince trilogy. Christine Well’s, ‘The Wife’s Tale’, was set in both the present and the past making it an intriguing approach to the genre.
There were some heavy literary hitters. Tom Keneally took on the Catholic Church in ‘Crimes of the Father’. Hannah Kent spoke about her latest work, ‘The Good People’. Nick Earls had a collection of novellas – Gotham, Vancouver, Venice, Juneau and NoHo. There was, of course, ‘The Last painting of Sara de Vos’ by Dominic Smith and Arnold Zable’s ‘The Fighter’. And ‘We Ate the Road Like Vultures’ by Lynette Lounsbury was intriguing. In the mix was the Vogel award winning ‘The Memory Artist’ by Katherine Brabon.
Robert Gott and Zane Lovitt gave us crime in ‘The Serpent’s Sting’ and ‘Black Teeth’. Olga Lorenzo had us intrigued by a child’s disappearance in ‘The Light on the Water’. David Dyer took us on to the deck of the Titanic in ‘The Midnight Watch’. The goings on behind the scenes in The Hotel du Barry by Lesley Truffle amused. Strange things, of course, took place on a ship to Antartica in the satirical, ‘5 Ways to be Famous Now’, by Maurilia Meehan.
We were given an Asian perspective in Isabelle Li’s collection of short stories, ‘A Chinese Affair’ while Michelle Wright’s collection, ‘Fine’, gave us touching insight into the lives of ordinary people.
All in all, it was an exhausting year of reading.
Australian authors JAN read through 2016.
Do you like a popular read or a challenging read? Liane Moriarty is continually on the NY best seller lists. She has Big Little Lies being made into a movie by Nicole Kidman. Truly Madly Guilty takes place in a suburban back yard and you don’t really learn about the ‘incident’ that changed the lives of 3 couples until half way through, but your interest is certainly held. Charlotte Wood has won the Stella Prize and shared the Prime Ministers Prize for The Natural way of things. A much harder read as you may need to discuss the ending and the even the beginning. Why are the women in jail? What is their crime?
Novels that use Melbourne as a setting – and have a bit of crime
Grand Slam by Kathryn Ledson mixes tennis, sponsorship, espionage and humour and takes place during the Australian Open in Melbourne. Is grandfatherly George’s action of kidnapping 5year old Rory a crime? Mercy Street is a story of love and consequences by Tess Evans. Our Magic Houris the lit up rainbow in Richmond and also the title of Jennifer Down’s book about the grief associated with suicide.
Tania Chandler’s, Please Don’t leave me Here was set in Melbourne but her follow up thriller Dead in the water has isolation as a factor in the Gippsland Lakes area.
Other books set further away than Melbourne, but still a bit of crime!
When the murder victim is young and beautiful there is a lot more media attention and how does this affect her not so young or innocent sister. Emily Maguire tells a story of unreliable media coverage, outcomes and grief in An Isolated Incident. On a university campus in the country, before mobile phones, some students have murder on the curriculum in All Those Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford. Sue Williams has her fish and chip shop owner and detective solving another murder in Dead Men Don’t Order Flake. Holly Throsby has written about Goodwood, a small town where everybody knows each other but nobody knows why two people disappeared.
Fiction….with some well researched facts….
From Palm Springs to outback NSW in A Distant Journey gives Di Morrissey the ability to spin a yarn with the wool industry at its heart. The Science of Appearances moves from Kyneton in the 1950’s to Melbourne and its artist scene around St Kilda. How is life different for twins and why are they apart? Jacinta Halloran mixes a little genetics with a little history. Fiona McIntosh has based her book in York, the home of chocolate making and written about The Chocolate Tin which was sent to an English soldier and the intrigue and romance that evolved from finding it. Australian writer Kristel Thornell fictionalised what may have happened with Agatha Christie when she went missing for 10 day in On the Blue Train.
More fact than fiction
While Hannah Kent was researching Burial Rites she came across the trial of another woman in Ireland in 1825, more poverty and cold in The Good People. David Carlin spoke about 2 very different books – The Abyssinian Contortionist a true story about an Ethiopian performer who ran away from the circus to seek asylum in Melbourne.
David Carlin also coedited The Near and Far a collection of writing from 21 Asia-Pacific authors. Why did 17 Australian women, with culturally diverse backgrounds, all defy the dutiful daughter tradition? Their stories make upRebellious Daughters. True crime is mixed with creative fiction in the 12 mini biographies by Laura Elizabeth Woollett in The Love of a Bad Man. The High Places by Fiona McFarlane has characters questioning the mystery of their life with great opening lines, for example “When I began my study of the colossal squid, I still believed in God”
And something very different
The Museum of Modern Love is a fictionalised account of the people who came to watch the performance artist Marina Abramovic by Heather Rose. A second hand bookshop where people are encouraged to write in the books is the setting for Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley. Meditation needs practice and Rebecca Ryan gives short exercises for achieving this inMindfulness for Mothers…and a good laugh with Our Tiny, Useless Hearts which has farcical humour in the suburbs. Toni Jordan has wonderfully written a comedy about love and marriage with people in the wrong beds.