In Brief

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Whisperings in the Blood: A memoir' by Shelley Davidow

Francesca Sasnaitis
27 April 2016

Shelley Davidow's multi-generational memoir begins in 1913 with her Jewish great-grandfather Jacob escaping the pogroms of tsarist Lithuania for the rigours of life in the American Midwest. The English language eludes Jacob, who struggles to make a decent living in his adopted country. Poverty contributes to his wife's untimely death. Jacob's son and daughter are co ... More

Carol Middleton reviews 'Enemy: A daughter's story of how her father brought the Vietnam War home' by Ruth Clare

Carol Middleton
27 April 2016

Growing up with a violent and controlling father who served in the Vietnam War may be a familiar story, but Ruth Clare's memoir takes us deeper, into the mind of the child and her day-to-day reality, where she is constantly primed for her father's next act of cruelty. Resembling a novel in its sensory detail and riveting narrative, Enemy recreates life in R ... More

Alex Cothren reviews 'We Ate The Road Like Vultures' by Lynette Lounsbury

Alex Cothren
26 April 2016

Jack Kerouac spent his elderly years sequestered in a crumbling Mexican hacienda that 'smelt like beer and farts'; his amphetamines replaced with antacids, his octogenarian skin 'the colour and texture of beef jerky'. Never mind that Kerouac actually drank himself to an early death in Florida, because somehow this alternate universe, the starting point of Lynnette L ... More

Marie O'Rourke reviews 'That Devil's Madness' by Dominique Wilson

Marie O'Rourke
31 March 2016

Is it possible to 'just pack up and go, and all your problems will stay behind?' Nicolette is hoping that's the case when we meet her literally on the road to a new life, troubled partner and toddler in tow. Louis, her grandfather, may well have asked the same; his earlier experiences of geographic and personal change form the alternate strand of the dual narrative ... More

Carol Middleton reviews 'The Canonbury Tales' by Don Aitkin

Carol Middleton
31 March 2016

Boccaccio started an avalanche of storytelling with The Decameron. His one hundred tales, told by ten narrators taking refuge from the Black Death in a villa outside Florence, have inspired a horde of copycats over the ensuing 660 years. Most famous of these is The Canterbury Tales. Although Don Aitkin's title echoes Chaucer's, his collection of st ... More

Simon Caterson reviews 'The Challenge of Things: Thinking Through Troubled Times' by A.C. Grayling

Simon Caterson
30 March 2016

As a liberal-minded, London-based philosopher prepared to engage in the mainstream press with major topics of the day, A.C. Grayling is always up for a challenge. Although much of Grayling's commentary conforms to the classical liberal view of things, now and then logic dictates that he takes a stance that may seem radical in those terms.

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Carol Middleton reviews 'The Media and the Massacre, Port Arthur 1996-2016' by Sonya Voumard

Carol Middleton
30 March 2016

In 2009 Sonya Voumard read about a legal claim brought by Martin Bryant's mother, Carleen, against journalists Robert Wainwright and Paola Totaro, accusing them of using her personal manuscript, letters, and family photos without her permission in their book Born or Bred? Martin Bryant: The Making of a Mass Murderer. Struck by the complex ethics of the case ... More

Naama Amram reviews 'Useful' by Debra Oswald

Naama Grey-Smith
27 March 2015

What makes a person useful? What gives them worth and value in the world? And who gets to decide? These are some of the questions Debra Oswald explores in Useful, a novel set in suburban Sydney.

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