A crow-shaped shadow flies across the river. Juna knows that her daughter is coming, so the right thing to do is make her favourite feed. Juna casts a fishing net over the river with her mind. The net drifts onto the surface, slips under the skin, and is swallowed by the water. The net descends through the deep water slowly, resting on the bed. River grass unflattens and pokes up between the spaces. Juna sings a song to attract fish to the area.
Sky Swimming: Reflection on auto/biography, people and place by Sylvia Martin
Queer memoir is particularly given to formal play, to unpacking and upsetting the conventions of genre in order to question women’s roles as both narrator and subject. Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (2015) mixes scholarship and bodily transformation. Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House (2019) unpacks the nature of narrative itself to reflect on an abusive relationship. Into this field comes Sky Swimming, Sylvia Martin’s ‘memoir that is not quite a memoir, more a series of reflections in which I act as a biographer of my own life’. For Martin, the critical distance of the biographer enables her to consider the resonances that exist between her own experiences.
It was important that no one took your photograph because you didn’t want to end up a rude picture for bad men to download. We were very sure of that, very certain in our certainty. ‘Noah Potnik has a program,’ Felix and Otis swore, ‘that strips the clothes from any photo to show what the person looks like underneath.’ Noah Potnik had nude pictures of Gal Gadot and Emma Watson and Gigi Hadid, and Felix and Otis told how he’d flashed these images to them with a horrible grin on the bus one afternoon, their eyes growing as big as paper plates because with this power a person could X-ray past the clothes of anyone they wanted, but that meant that even though for some reason Noah Potnik didn’t have any pictures of boys it must be possible that they, too – Felix and Otis – could end up flying around the internet where people would stare at them with their clothes off.
The Insider: The scoops, the scandals and the serious business within the Canberra bubble by Christopher Pyne
In a long career talking to and about politicians, I have learned one thing. While many fantasise about being prime minister, the key driver is to get close to the centre. Christopher Pyne captures this immediately in The Insider, comparing the political world to the solar system in which the skill is to know one’s place relative to the sun (the prime minister), and the aim is to get as close to the sun as possible. To be an insider, to know how things work, with privileged information that few others share, is the allure.
From the Issue
British India, White Australia: Overseas Indians, intercolonial relations and the Empire by Kama Maclean
The Bird Way: A new look at how birds talk, work, play, parent, and think by Jennifer Ackerman
Good Economics for Hard Times: Better answers to our biggest problems by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
It is curious the way certain books can insinuate themselves into your consciousness. I am not necessarily talking about favourite books, or formative ones that evoke a particular time and place, but those stray books that seem to have been acquired almost inadvertently (all bibliophiles possess such volumes, I’m sure), and taken up without any particular expectations, books that have something intriguing about them that keeps drawing you back.
There is a senior partner at my firm who famously harasses young women particularly when he has been drinking at social events. I was groped on two separate occasions. Nothing was done about it the first time I reported it. I did not report it the second time.
In 2007, Britain’s Royal Mint issued a £2 coin commemorating two hundred years since the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the zero in ‘1807’ appearing as if a broken link in a chain. While interrupting the notorious transatlantic trade, the Act did not end slavery itself – that was achieved, at least in parts of the British world, with further legislation in 1833 that outlawed enslavement in the British Caribbean, Mauritius, and the Cape of Good Hope. Emphasis on the dramatic, if illusionary, chain-breaking moment in some bicentenary celebrations extended a tradition of dwelling on Britain’s role in slave emancipation.
Kokomo by Victoria Hannan
Kokomo has a startling beginning. ‘Mina knew in that moment what love is’, goes the first sentence. She is looking at Jack’s penis, which is compared to a soldier, a ballerina, a lighthouse, and a cooee. It is also the nicest penis she has ever seen.