Reviewer: FL

By this author


Books May 12, 2018

Civilisations

I debated over whether to address these books’ genesis at the outset, or to treat them on their own terms. Does it undersell them to point out that they started out as elements of a larger whole? But don’t their covers and format signal a link, and …

Books April 14, 2018

The Wasp and the Orchid

The subtitle promises “the remarkable life” of Edith Coleman, but remarkable how? As Danielle Clode tells it, it comes across as remarkable in the sense of noteworthy, rather than extraordinary. Which is fine – by all means, let’s take note – …

Books March 03, 2018

Skin in the Game

The centrepiece of Skin in the Game is an account of an interview with Helen Garner almost 40 years ago. Sonya Voumard, then an 18-year-old cadet journalist, chose Garner as her subject for a university assignment. The interview was convivial …

Books February 10, 2018

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The story of Lale Sokolov’s three years in Auschwitz-Birkenau was recounted by him to Heather Morris, in Melbourne, as he neared the age of 90. Gita, his wife of almost 60 years, had recently died and Lale was eager, before he joined her, to tell his …

Books January 27, 2018

The Water Will Come

Reading – or even writing – a book about climate change isn’t the same as doing something about it. But surely we can take heart from the fact that books on the subject continue to be published. That must mean it’s a lucrative genre, indicative …

Books December 23, 2017

Best Books of 2017 #1

In Mirror Sydney, inspired by psychogeography, Vanessa Berry embarks on “drifts” through inauspicious Sydney – hollowed-out factory districts, heedless highways and all-but-forgotten suburban arcades. She anatomises the …

Books 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 …

Books 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 …

Books 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 …

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