November 2020

Travel

Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke The wording on the cover of this book, showing a photo of the authors in their kilts, says ‘Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other’. On the back cover it also says ‘Two Men, One Country. And lots of whisky’. What more needs to be said? Diana Gabaldon, who

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General Fiction

Under the Golden Sun by Jenny Ashcroft

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke Sometimes when you start reading a book you feel compelled to keep on reading until the whole story emerges. This is how it was for me with Jenny Ashcroft’s Under The Golden Sun. I kept being driven back to continue reading. It is hard to understand why. Was it because the

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Children

Future Friend by David Baddiel

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve Future Friend is an engaging story that presents an imagined life 1,000 years from now and the contrasting way we existed in 2019. By 3020, the population has reached twenty-four billion.  Chickens become militant and it is accepted as wrong to kill animals for food. Pigs are intelligent beings, some capable

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Voss Literary Prize 2020

The shortlist for the 2020 Voss Literary Prize has been announced. The shortlisted novels are: Crossings (Alex Landragin, Picador) The Rich Man’s House (Andrew McGahan, A&U) The Palace of Angels (Mohammed Massoud Morsi, Wild Dingo Press) The Trespassers (Meg Mundell, UQP) Exploded View (Carrie Tiffany, Text) The Yield (Tara June Winch, Hamish Hamilton). Crossings, The Rich Man’s House and The Palace of Angels

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Children

When We Say Black Lives Matter by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve Maxine Beneba Clarke, passionate about human rights and social justice, has created a book for children that throbs with colour and emotion. This tumultuous year has produced events that must question a young child’s ability to make sense of their world. The media, especially television, depicted horrific scenes of the murder

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Non-Fiction

The Man of the Crowd by Scott Peeples

Reviewed by Ian Lipke Scott Peeples is a professor of English at Charleston. He has a particular interest in the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Peeples has published two other books on Poe. His current work is a book that bears an identical name to Poe’s story. To compound the confusion, Peeples includes a chapter

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The Barabara Jefferis Award 2020

Barbara Jefferis was a feminist, a founding member of the Australian Society of Authors, its first woman President and, in the words of Thomas Keneally, “a rare being amongst authors, being both a fine writer but also organisationally gifted. She was a professional and internationally published writer long before most of us dreamed of such

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2020 Booker Prize winner

The Scottish-American author Douglas Stuart has won the 2020 Booker Prize for his first novel, Shuggie Bain, a story based on his own life that follows a boy growing up in poverty in 1980s Glasgow with a mother who is battling addiction. Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow. After graduating from the Royal College

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General Fiction

When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke In chapter one of this book I was confronted, in the first paragraph, with a five and a half line or sixty-four word sentence which required me to backtrack and re-read it to get the full benefit of all those words. This was followed by the introduction of the central characters

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Biology

Metazoa by Peter Godfrey-Smith

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve Peter Godfrey-Smith is a philosopher scientist who writes with a clarity and beauty of language which make his latest work, Metazoa, easily accessible to the lay person who has a natural curiosity and an appreciation of science, especially biology. Life on Earth began with minute organisms with an intricate structure on

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General Fiction/Poetry

GriffithReview70: Generosities of Spirit

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve The media release summarises this edition of the Review perfectly.  Number 70, entitled ‘Generosities of Spirit’ is a veritable ‘treasure trove of literary gems and curiosities from a shining selection of Australian writers.’ Kristina Olsson has, in her characteristic style, written a beautifully thoughtful piece.  Her roots, in the inner Brisbane

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Art/Architecture

Brutal Aesthetics by Hal Foster

Reviewed by Ian Lipke We, who did not live through the disruption and devastation of the early part of the twentieth century, can only imagine man’s image of himself as one crisis followed another. As Walter Benjamin states (cited in Foster, 2), “Many people returned from the Front [World War I] in silence”, harbouring a

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Crime/Mystery

A Time for Mercy by John Grisham

Reviewed by Ian Lipke In a postscript to A Time for Mercy Grisham writes, “The point…is to apologize for any mistakes. I’m just too lazy to go back and read the earlier books” (367). Laziness has not been confined to reading past editions but has crept into later versions of Grisham’s stories. A blatant admission

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Memoir/Biography

Stalin: Passage to Revolution by Ronald Grigor Suny

Reviewed by Ian Lipke Suny’s monumental work is not the first to attempt to tell the story of how a young seminarian became the horrific butcher who left this world in 1953. Such misbegotten luminaries as Leon Trotsky and Isaac Deutscher made attempts that are viewed with some degree of askance today. Robert Tucker made

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General Fiction

All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

Reviewed by Rod McLary Trent Dalton’s first book – Boy Swallows Universe – was a best-seller and may soon be made into a film.  Partly based on the author’s life, the book told the story of Eli and is one of love, family and coming-of-age – all told with a touch of magic. The magic

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