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Showing posts from March 14, 2021

“Nothing like old-fashioned misogyny to make the ignorant turn down good advice.”

Communication tower, Natone Hill, Geilston Bay. March 2021. The Dry   by Jane Harper An entertaining little police procedural set in country Victoria. Standard 'big city cop returns to small home town and gets caught up in murder (and past ghosts)' motif, and I enjoyed it well enough. A fair few red herrings are tossed about to undermine the resolution of the stories behind the various deaths (especially with the river dried up). The central figure of Aaron Falk is an interesting one, and I am likely to read more of the series featuring the detective. It served as an excellent palate-cleanser after the heady going of Marieke Lucas Rijneveld's  The Discomfort of Evening . ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 1/2

“My brother is slowly fading out of various minds, while he moves more and more into ours.”

Kayakers on the Derwent, Kunanyi in the background. Little Howrah Beach, February 2021. The Discomfort of Evening   by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld This novel is tough going. Rijneveld manages to create a world that is both cold and bleak. The book is dominated by grief, the effect of which is magnified by the setting among an isolated pious Dutch reformist family out on a farm, and the story begins with the death of the oldest son. Left behind are a domineering father, a silent and withdrawn mother, an increasingly troubled brother, our narrator - the second-youngest girl Jas, confused and ridden by guilt - and the bewildered youngest girl. As the family retreats into themselves, the familial bond disintegrates along with the household's mental health, in which each member falls into a deep depression, albeit in ways that manifest quite differently for each. It's grim and disturbing stuff. The insularity and rigidity of the religious sect compound the harm and precludes any hope of

“When there is an invisible elephant in the room, one is from time to time bound to trip over a trunk.”

It is a plane, not a plan. Hobart, February 2021. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler I had no idea of this book before reading it, so the 'big reveal' about a quarter of the way through caught me by surprise just as the author had intended! Thank goodness, too, as I struggled with the slow drift of the pacing and the bone dry wit of the narrator's voice to that point. However, once the key to the story was provided, I found the rest of the story engaging and absorbing. While reading about a cast of damaged people who have chosen to repress rather than address their trauma can be tiresome, I was so drawn into the story in an empathetic fashion, and the dryness of the narrative voice became much more alive. There's not a huge lot of resolution to be found, but the questions that it asks on parenting, ideology and the rights of all creatures on planet Earth are worthy and profound. The 'trick' pulled by the author, when coupled with the com

“In a fallen world, it was hard to do unambiguous good.”

Stability. Hobart, February 2021. Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally As a lifelong and devout atheist, I've always viewed the Catholic Church through a sceptical anthropological lens. Given the very many crimes and betrayals committed in her name since the very beginning, I am often paused for thought about why anyone might remain wedded to such an organisation. It's in this spirit that I approached Tom Keneally's  Crimes of the Father . This is a meaty book that explores faith, the church and conscience. The central character - Father Frank Docherty - remains a man of faith. Both a priest and practising psychologist, his professional areas of speciality are the abused and the abusers. Through a confluence of events, Docherty is drawn into the lives of several victims of abuse by an eminent Sydney cardinal, who himself sits on a commission investigating sexual abuse within the Church. In this milieu, Keneally delves into an exploration of faith, loyalty, identity, and