Reviewer: FL

By this author

book December 09, 2017

How to Think

Alan Jacobs barely mentions the T-word. But How to Think, a short book written in short order after the 2016 United States election, is unmistakeably a response to the Trump ascendancy and, specifically, to the bad thinking habits that helped …

book November 04, 2017

The Book of Thistles

Noëlle Janaczewska tells us up front that she’s “interested in unaccompanied language. In collage. In reveries and writings which switch register and jump-cut across genres.” She’s not alone. Didn’t George Saunders just get Man Bookered for …

book October 28, 2017

The Smell of Fresh Rain

Barney Shaw, as well as being a first-time author, is a retired senior civil servant. And my initial impression was that he writes like one, with lots of equivocal constructions (“some blah, while others bleh”) and a liking for lists. What won me …

book October 21, 2017

Why Time Flies

“Where does the time go?” my mother implores. At 84, she’s certain that time gathers speed as she gets older. In Why Time Flies, Alan Burdick looks at the evidence for the widespread impression that inspired his title. It turns out that …

book August 19, 2017

The Enigmatic Mr Deakin

When he was 22 and a mint-new member of the Victorian parliament, Alfred Deakin won wild applause with a maiden speech in which he tendered his resignation. In a political career spanning almost 40 years, Deakin would nearly always be on the verge of …

book July 22, 2017

The Last Man in Europe

Eric Blair died for want of a typist. Self-exiled to a remote Scottish island and hollowed out by tuberculosis, he quailed at the prospect of typing a clean manuscript copy of his just-completed novel. Despite an SOS to his publishers, no typist eventuated. …

book May 27, 2017


Even to its practitioners, there are things about anaesthesia that remain a mystery – such as, where exactly it fits on the spectrum of consciousness. A state of general anaesthesia is rendered not by a single drug, but by a lights-out cocktail comprising …

book February 11, 2017

Old Growth

[TOC:ul In this story] One of Australia’s leading poets, as well as professor of sustainability and literature at Curtin University, John Kinsella has stated that the “purpose” of his poetry is “to draw attention to the damage being done and …

book December 24, 2016

Books 2016 #2

Reviewers' picks from the year in print.