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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.

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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:

(more…)

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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

As per my last post, I will be participating in the 2015 Australian Women Writers Challenge this year.

Anita Heiss’s Black Book Challenge has been of great assistance in finding books by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander authors (via Mindy at Hoyden About Town).

Here are the 10 books I’m planning to read. Except for Eileen Chong’s Peony, they are all at my local library, and now on reserve, although if any don’t come through in time I might have to substitute alternatives: (more…)

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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

Way back in 2012 I participated in the inaugural Australian Women Writers Challenge.

After a couple of years off, I have decided to get back into it.

In summary, person can sign up to read a specified number of books within the year, and to write a (smaller) specified number of reviews. There are different levels of the challenge, and you can add other aspects to your own challenge to make it more personally challenging.

The levels have changed a little – I am going for the Franklin again, which is still 10 books, but now 6 reviews (rather than the 4 in 2012).

And here are my additional challenges: (more…)

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Black-on-white silhouette of an apparently female figure in a top hat, with the words in white: 2012 Australian Women Writers Challenge (and the url australianwomenwriters.com at the bottom)
Monkey Grip by Helen Garner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb from Goodreads

In “Monkey Grip”, Helen Garner charts the lives of a generation. Her characters are exploring new ways of loving and living – and nothing is harder than learning to love lightly. Nora and Javo are trapped in a desperate relationship. Nora’s addiction is romantic love; Javo’s is hard drugs. The harder they pull away, the tighter the monkey grip. A lyrical, gritty, rough-edged novel that deserves its place as a classic of Australian fiction.

My review

I got a lot out of this book – and there’s a lot to get, for a patient reader. It’s a book about Melbourne in the mid-1970s, about community, about love, about addiction, about love as addiction, and about how you can only live your own life.

This is not a gentle or easy book. It is narrated in first person by the main character, Nora, and the reader is thrown in the deep end, only ever given as much about Nora’s external life and circumstances as is absolutely necessary (and this is usually divulged with great subtlety). Nora is (in no particular order) an actor, a woman in love, a mother, a some-time drug taker, a part of a hippie community/commune, a feminist, a writer for a feminist magazine. We are taken through the year or so of Nora’s relationship with Javo, a junkie, during 1975 (and a bit on either side).

What one learns from this book is up to the reader. If you trust to Ms Garner, you will be lifted by the current and brought safely to the end of the book.

This is an extra review for the 2012 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.

Cross-posted.

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Black-on-white silhouette of an apparently female figure in a top hat, with the words in white: 2012 Australian Women Writers Challenge (and the url australianwomenwriters.com at the bottom)

I have completed the 2012 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:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Black-on-white silhouette of an apparently female figure in a top hat, with the words in white: 2012 Australian Women Writers Challenge (and the url australianwomenwriters.com at the bottom)
Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb from Goodreads

This is an original take on a classic story – how a child of immigrants moves between two cultures. In place of piety and predictability, however, Unpolished Gem offers a vivid and ironic sense of both worlds. It combines the story of Pung’s life growing up in suburban Footscray with the inherited stories of the women in her family – stories of madness, survival and heartbreak. Original and brave, this is a girl’s own story that introduces an unforgettable voice and captures the experience of Asian immigrants to Australia.

My review

First, a bit of background to my reading of this book. I grew up in a part of Sydney where there were many people of Asian descent. Those who were my age had often either been born in Australia to parents who were recent immigrants, or had come to Australia as children. Many of my friends were of Asian descent, from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. I tended to see the similarities between my friends and me – they were, after all, my friends – and I often did not understand why they reacted to certain things so differently, especially in relation to their interactions and relationships with their families.

In the years since high school, I have grown to understand much more. Unpolished Gem allowed me to take another leap in my understanding of some of my friends. At the very least, this means that if Ms Pung is writing for the wider Australian audience, to give them an insight into the life of a certain section of the Australian community, she has nailed it. (I am quite curious to know if she has nailed the audience within the section of the Australian community she is writing about.)

Ms Pung’s writing is impeccable. (more…)

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