The Fault in Our Stars



John Green (2010) ISBN-10 0143567594, ISBN-13 9780143567592

John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars is now a film set for release in Australia on June 5th 2014.  And there, dear reader, is your deadline to read the book.

TFIOS (as we Nerdfighters call it) had been sitting on my list of to-be-reads for a while. Not as long as some others, but, eh,  a while. While I quickly devoured all his other novels, I left this one sit a little longer. I mean, why hurry the emotional seasick-making ferry ride of a book dealing with teenagers and cancer? Continue reading

Saga n1. A Long And Complicated (Account Of A) Series Of More Or Less Loosely Connected Events (O.E.D.)


SAGA (Volumes One and Two)

Brian K. Vaughan (Writer) / Fiona Staples (Illustrator)

ISBN 978-1-60706-601-9 / ISBN 978-1-60706-692-7

So even if you pretty much have your head stuck in the literary clouds and barely come down from the Mount Olympus of the Booker short list each year you are probably aware of graphic novels like Sandman and Maus. You might even be aware of Fables by Bill Willingham and Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan. Continue reading

The Red Book of Lang



Edited by Andrew Lang (1890) ISBN-13: 978-0-486-21673-7 / ISBN-10: 0-486-21673-X

Fairy tales are fashionable again. I’m not saying they were ever unpopular. Children never do quite become suspicious of fairy tales the way adults do from time to time and era to era. Personally, I think we can trace the start the march of the fairy tale fashion of the early twenty-teens to Fables by Bill Willingham. If you haven’t read Fables, it is a comic about fairy tale characters stranded in modern New York. If the theme sounds vaguely familiar that’s because the series was so successful there were all sorts of plans to turn it into a film or television series, but then some bright exec somewhere (evidently) realised that all the characters were public domain. Why not write their own series that is sort of similar but not too similar and therefore, QED: no need to pay any royalties? Thus, fairy tale characters have suddenly suffused our TV screens and fairy tales have returned to the public consciousness again. Continue reading

Peter Temple’s Truth



Temple, Peter (Text publishing: Australia, 2009, ISBN 9781921520716)

Peter Temple’s Truth reads like an Australian television miniseries. You can even see where they would show the tits.

The novel’s beauty comes from the vividness of its writing. We leave it with afterimages of “sharp-toothed skulls” and “beer cartons blown flat against the fences” still glowing behind our mind’s I. We can still hear the footsteps on the “gap-planked verandah” and the “rip and flap of a loose truck tarp in the nearest yard”. Continue reading

Some Poetic Observations Of The Human Condition



Laurie Lee (1969) ISBN 0-14-00-3318-1

I cannot fully convey to you what a treasure this book is. This is the vivid, wry, deeply felt and wonderfully, beautifully written account of a young man, the author himself, walking out the door of his English family home deep in the English countryside, to seek his fortune, to find himself, to find his road in life. By a path of almost whimsical-seeming choices, the author found himself eventually in London, and eventually leaving England to try his luck on the Continent. And then he found himself in Spain, walking on foot town-to-town, supporting himself with his violin – and this put him in exactly the right time and the right place to experience the Spanish Civil War when it erupted around him. Continue reading

Near Future SF Done Well



Brian Azzarello (writer) (2011-12)
Penciller: Eduardo Risso; Letterer: Clem Robins; Colorists: Patricia Mulvihill & Giulia Brusco

Spaceman was released as a nine-part series of monthly comics in 2011-2012 from Vertigo (the imprint of DC for grown-ups), and is now available as a deluxe graphic novel edition. By writer Brian Azzarello and penciller Eduardo Risso, Spaceman is among the best hard science fiction produced in any medium, film, TV or book in the last ten years. Continue reading

These Are Not Your Teenage Fears; They Are The Fears Of Today’s Teenagers



Suzanne Collins (2008, 2009, 2010)

The Hunger Games: ISBN 978-1-407132-07-5

Catching Fire: ISBN 978-1-407132-09-9

Mocking Jay: ISBN 978-1-407109-37-4

There is certainly no need to convince anyone to buy more of Suzanne Collins super-successful series, but I think there still may be a need clear up some confusion about this series and point out that if you haven’t read it, you probably should and why. Continue reading

Decades Of The 20th Century



Yapp, Nick (c. 1986 onwards) several volumes inc. ISBN 3829005229

Getty Images publish a remarkable series of photobooks called Decades of the 20th Century. Besides the usual shots of counterrevolutionaries storming Cuban beaches, the Beatles and parading Nazis, we see Castro batting a baseball out of the ballpark and Emperor Hirohito meeting Mickey Mouse. Continue reading

Cromwellian Tales

Wolf Hall


Hilary Mantel (2009) ISBN 978-0-00-723030-4

Reviewing Wolf Hall presents problems. The first is simply: what more can be said? This is  a Man Booker Prize winning author. In the front of the edition I own there are no less than five and a half pages of glowing review excerpts. That seems like publishing overkill to me, but then again I am not a publisher of great novels nor a marketer of them.  Continue reading

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      I first came across Suki Kim as a panellist at the exceedingly awkward “Inside North Korea” talk at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival.  I have written about this panel in more detail before, but Kim’s frustration at her co-panellists, and at the situation in and around North Korea generally, was … Continue reading