Turns out my sign-up post for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017 was not actually posted, despite the WordPress app on my phone telling me it was.

In any event, although I read 10 books within my challenge parameters by about March or April, I did not post any reviews at the time.

So here is the revised sign-up post PLUS six reviews in one post. Continue Reading »

Today’s ABC article about the new Primary IVF clinic, open in Melbourne from today, is a little problematic.

Not the broad subject of the article itself: Primary IVF has been operating in Sydney since 2014, has opened from today in Melbourne. It bulk bills and, personally, I think that’s great.

But the tone of the first part of the article, referring to concerns that women might not get the best treatment – with the inference that only those who can pay full freight for private treatment – smells a little off to me. Continue Reading »

The Worst

It is unfair. Your smile still makes my stomach drop to my knees.

You were my worst.

Or, at least, the end was.

I grew complacent. A decade or so on different continents allowed me to forget your effect. Now you seem to think we can pick up a friendship that was only ever one of us lusting after the other in an ill-timed dance.

And when we got the timing right, discord reigned.

I find I can’t regret you (especially as you smile and my stomach does its tricks).

But you were my worst.

Or, at least, the end was.

This is why I will never, ever vote for the NSW Liberal party while they have any kind of deal (including second preference group voting in the Legislative Council ballot) with Fred Nile and/or the so-called Christian Democratic Party.

In summary, Nile has proposed private member’s bills with various anti-abortion effects, banning full-face coverings, banning X-rated movies and lifting the legal drinking age from 18 to 21. Talk about wowserism and an ideological push.

He’s also proposing an advertising ban on alcohol and gambling – now that, I admit, I could get behind, if the bill is a sensible one. But as the whole agenda appears to be based on ideology, I’m not sure it would be.

Cross-posted at Hoyden About Town.

Black silhouette of an apparently female figure in a top hat on a green background (with some faint writing in the top and bottom thirds), with the words in white: 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge

Every Secret Thing by Marie Munkara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads blurb

When culture and faith collide . . . nothing is sacred

In the Aboriginal missions of far northern Australia, it was a battle between saving souls and saving traditional culture.

Every Secret Thing is a rough, tough, hilarious portrayal of the Bush Mob and the Mission Mob, and the hapless clergy trying to convert them. In these tales, everyone is fair game.

At once playful and sharp, Marie Munkara’s wonderfully original stories cast a taunting new light on the mission era in Australia.

‘told with biting wit and riotous humour’
Judges’ comments, Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards (2008)

My review

I intended to read this book for the 2015 Australian Women Writers challenge, but as I realised I had read it before, that was not to be.

However, in the spirit of the challenge – and because it is a must-read, and excellent with it – I am including this as an extra review.

Every Secret Thing is written as an account, told by anecdote, of the development of the relationship between the bush mob and the mission mob – the latter have set up the mission somewhere in northern Australia, not too far from a town referred to as Big Joint, with the purpose of Christianising and “civilising” the bush mob.

The various anecdotes tell, humorously, disputes and misunderstandings between the bush mob and the mission mob, and within each, with everyone’s flaws exposed and with the joke generally being on the mission mob – at least at first. The kids confound the visiting Bishop with their logic (why would Adam and Eve eat the apple instead of the snake when the snake would taste better?); Augustine and Methuselah outsmart Brother Michael and make off with various livestock in The Brotherhood; Pwomiga gives deliberate, and hilarious, mistranslations in Wurruwataka.

But as the book goes on, the stories become more and more bittersweet. The dark undercurrent which is evident from the beginning, such as oblique references to child sexual abuse, become stronger and more explicit, such as the story of Tapalinga and Perpetua, two members of the Stolen Generations, in The Garden of Eden. And the ending, which I won’t spoil, is very black indeed.

We have far too few stories about the mission mob/bush mob interaction from the perspective of the bush mob. What I think is particularly valuable about a book like this is that it treats the bush mob’s life pre-mission-mob as the baseline, and the interactions with the intruders, the parts of European culture/industralisation the bush mob accept or reject are explained, and make sense, in that context. For example, if you have always cooked over an open fire, why would you automatically recognise an oven as a device for cooking as opposed to a convenient storage space – or den for newborn puppies? To my mind, this is an effective method of refuting the proposition that Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders are (or were before the coming of the white man) backwards, uncivilised, stupid and lawless. And whatever else, it is refreshing to start from this perspective instead of the perspective which uses the European Australian attitude as the default position.

This was a book I was very pleased to read again, and it is a book I think is a must-read for all Australians.

This is an extra review for the 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge. You can see my full list of books here. You can find a full list of my reviews, and other posts relevant to the challenge, here.


Black silhouette of an apparently female figure in a top hat on a green background (with some faint writing in the top and bottom thirds), with the words in white: 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge

I have completed the 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge!

This post is to record how I went compared to my challenge criteria, and to give a very short overview of each book.

First, the books. They were:

Continue Reading »

Black silhouette of an apparently female figure in a top hat on a green background (with some faint writing in the top and bottom thirds), with the words in white: 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge

Peony by Eileen Chong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads blurb

An engaging new collection from the author of Burning Rice.

My review

In Peony, Eileen Chong deals with a range of themes, from the nature of family and ancestral roots and traditions, to death, friendship, travel, fear and, of course, love.

Throughout the book, her voice is a consistent one. The poems often seem very personal. These attributes can be positive, and many of the poems made me think deeply or inspired feelings. Continue Reading »

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