March was a bumper reading month for me. I not only read a lot more than I usually do but I read more widely.
My month began with our annual extended-family getaway at Dunsborough with my parents, my brothers, our partners and all our children – 13 of us in total. We all shared a house, which does not sound conducive to reading, but while my son ran amuck with his cousins, I managed to tune out the din and spent many happy hours lying on the couch with a book.
After being on a panel with Canadian author Madeleine Thien at this year’s Perth Writer’s Festival I was keen to read her latest novel Dogs at the Perimeter and it absolutely lived up to my expectations, with its heartbreaking story and beautiful prose. Karen Thompson Walker was also at the writer’s festival talking about her debut novel The Age of Miracles – a gorgeous coming-of-age story with a speculative fiction twist.
For the Translation Challenge I chose French author Philippe Claudel’s Kafkaesque romp The Investigation, an amusing and disturbing enquiry into bureacracy gone mad, and I read Dawn Barker’s Fractured for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, a compelling drama about the devastating impact of post-natal psychosis.
My commitment to reading more Australian literature continued with Steven Amsterdam’s novel-in-stories What the Family Needed, which didn’t quite hit the spot for me. Though the prose was beautiful, I abandoned New Zealander Emily Perkin’s The Forrests because the plot didn’t quite compel me enough. I was also underwhelmed by Octavia Butler’s post-apocalyptic road story Parable of the Sower, despite its cult status.
Third Shift, the last of the prequels to Hugh Howey’s Wool, was nothing to write home about, but I am still awaiting the sequel eagerly. Aside from Dogs at the Perimeter, probably my favourite book of the month was Patrick deWitt’s Ablutions, a dark and hilarious account of alcoholism. I know, I know, it sounds unpromising, but trust me, you will be laughing, even as you fight the urge to shower constantly.
Next on my list:
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Elemental by Amanda Curtin
Someone Else’s Country by Peter Docker
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
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