neighbourhood

Neighbourhood

Hetty McKinnon     Recommended by Sharon    

Neighbourhood is the second delicious collection of salads (and a few sweets!) from Arthur Street Kitchen’s Hetty McKinnon.  Her first book of salads, Community, was a huge hit and this book is bound to be just as popular.  Hetty has pulled up stumps and moved to from Surry Hills to Brooklyn and these recipes are inspired by many different places, journeying from Brooklyn to the greater Americas, the Mediterranean, Asia, France, Australia and many other places around the world for inspiration. The Arthur Street Kitchen concept is simple – local food for local people – and Neighbourhood stays true to this winning formula.  I can highly recommend the Roasted Sweet Potato and Leek Salad with Mustard Croutons…. delish!

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A Child of Books

Olive Jeffers     Recommended by Sharon    

New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and fine artist Sam Winston deliver a lyrical picture book inspiring readers of all ages to create, to question, to explore, and to imagine.

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.

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Westerly 61.1

Various authors     Recommended by Alan    

The latest issue of Westerly, guest edited by Steve Kinnane, reminds readers of the power and importance of stories in maintaining and renewing culture. A celebration of Indigenous writing, 61.1 includes new writing across all genres and from a variety of known and little-known writers. Proud in its cover art by Bella Kelly, Westerly 61.1 asserts its place in Western Australian literary culture.

Notable contributions include Tara June Winch’s story ‘The Yield’, Kim Scott’s non-fiction piece ‘Both Hands Full’ and the poem ‘Sap Clot’ by Alison Whittaker ( Tender! Horror! // Thrice upon the shore comes the violence ). The Katinka Smit’s debut story ‘Behind the Line’ is similarly impressive in its portrayal of cultural ambivalence.

But in a way it is the personal stories of less well-known writers that point up the strengths of Indigenous voices and the personal challenges that have been surmounted. Two joyous vignettes by young boys from Mulan in the Tanami desert, Bella Kelly’s daughters recounting their mother’s life and art, and Doris Eaton’s ‘Giveaway’ story are three such examples.

Now in its 60th year, this latest Westerly must be among its most notable. A collection of stories, reviews and essays that reminds all readers that the west of Australia has a long indigenous past, a continuing present, and a future.

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One

Patrick Holland     Recommended by Alan    

Patrick Holland is the critically acclaimed author of The Mary Smokes Boys and Riding Trains in Japan.

One is a cold, grim novel based on the true story of the Kenniff gang – Australia’s ‘last bushrangers’ – as they are pursued on horseback by trooper Sergeant Nixon. Set at the beginning of the 20th century, the novel also documents a point of change in the country’s psyche as it grapples with notions of nationhood and increasing modernisation.

Narrated largely through the perspective of Sergeant Nixon, the trooper’s moral compass begins to waver the longer the chase continues. Kenniff’s legendary decisiveness also begins to crumble as the novel moves toward its final throes. Often compared to Cormac McCarthy’s westerns, one of the pleasures of One is the muscularity and sparseness of Holland’s prose.

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The Journey

Francesca Sanna     Recommended by Sharon    

“I look up to the birds that seem to be following us. They are migrating just like us. And their journey, like ours, is very long, but they don’t have to cross any borders.”

With haunting echoes of current affairs this beautifully illustrated children’s book explores the unimaginable decisions made as a family leave their home and everything they know to escape the turmoil and tragedy brought by war. A beautifully sympathetic and relevant tale about the plight of refugees.

Stunningly presented by the design conscious Flying Eye Books, this book will stay with you long after the last page is turned.  Have the tissue box at the ready.

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The Death of Bunny Munro

Nick Cave     Recommended by Michael    

Nick Cave brings his talent for exploring the more depraved parts of humanity while maintaining eloquence and a real talent for telling a story to his second novel The Death of Bunny Munro.

The Death of Bunny Munro tells the story of Bunny Munro, a beauty products salesman who travels the South Coast of England hawking his most definitely useless beauty products (he refers to this as “selling hope”) to lonely housewives.

Upon the sudden suicide of his wife he decides to take his son, Bunny Junior, on one final ride through England’s South Coast. I say one last ride because along with an all-consuming obsession with women and sex (especially Avril Lavinge) Bunny is carrying an intense anxiety and dread that soon his life will end.

This is a story of a bad man who was never meant to be a father, his heartbreakingly innocent son and his last ditch effort to outrun a monster he can’t comprehend. He describes it as his own death but we might get the impression he’s running from his own sins, his own guilt and in a tragically doomed way he’s trying to protect his son from a monster he can’t see nor understand.

I’ve always been impressed by writers who can make us sympathise with terrible people, (Cormac McCarthy with his novel Child of God springs to mind) it takes a real understanding of the complexities of people to translate that into writing. This novel could have so easily been, in another less talented authors hands, a trite, crass and shallow mess. But in the hands of a master storyteller like Nick Cave we’re left with a haunting, heart breaking, complex and tragic tale of a man desperate for redemption – even if he won’t admit it to himself.

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Worst Person Ever

Douglas Coupland     Recommended by Rhiannon    

Veteran novelist Douglas Coupland is back with his satirical takes on reality TV shows, the end of the world and political correctness gone mad. In the midst of all this lies Raymond Gunt (synonym fully intended), a B-unit camera man and a B grade human being who manages to find a spot on a Survivor style American TV show and drags along, what is now this reviewers favourite side character of all time, a homeless sage called Neal. From London to LA to a Pacific island paradise, hilarity and mayhem closely follows this pair of idiots. Coupland weaves this tale with a smart, observational take on the often bizarreness of modern life.

The writing is well done and fast paced, with all of the characters, both major and minor, life-like enough to be cutting you off on the freeway or taking a loaded shopping cart into your local express lane. This book is a must read for anyone who thinks the world is quietly going insane or who enjoys a comic tale involving bad things happening to bad people.

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The Complete Maus

Art Spiegelman     Recommended by Lucy    

Justifiably a classic of the graphic novel genre, The Complete Maus interweaves the devastating story of how Art Spiegelman’s parents survived the Nazi death camps, with the often funny frustrations of Art’s relationship as an adult with his elderly father. The black and white line drawings, which represent the Jews as mice and the Germans as cats, look a little like wood cuts and manage to convey settings, emotion, and character with only a few lines. Art’s father, Vladek, is a resourceful charmer and the dialogue between him and Art will make you laugh (and tear your hair out on Art’s behalf).

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The Passage

Justin Cronin     Recommended by Sharon    

The Passage is the first in Justin Cronin’s epic trilogy – what a cracking read!

A gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

If you haven’t delved into this unputdownable series now is the time.  The sequel, The Twelve, is equally as good and the third and final instalment, House of Mirrors, has just hit the shelves. Happy binge reading!

 

 

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Tough Guys Have Feelings Too

Keith Negley     Recommended by Sharon    

Tough Guys Have Feelings Too by Keith Negley really strikes a chord. This deceptively simple picture book explores male emotions through a range of ‘tough guy’ characters. From wrestlers to ninjas, bikies to superheroes, the characters openly display their feelings showing it’s ok to feel sad or upset.  I absolutely love this book – particularly the gorgeous ending.  Stunningly illustrated with a powerful message.

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