Australian Women Writers’ Challenge
This month I totally cleaned up on my reading for the AWW Challenge, beginning with Kirsty Murray’s Vulture’s Gate, a sophisticated and compelling YA speculative fiction set in a dystopian future. Sara Foster’s Shallow Breath was a really enjoyable psychological suspense story which centres on the complex relationships between two families over two generations and takes place against a backdrop of animal conservation which I found very interesting (and also at times disturbing). I read it in a couple of settings and loved the way the mystery unfolded. I also read Hannah Kent’s much-hyped Burial Rites and found it complex, haunting and thought-provoking.
The subject matter of Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers appealed to me and it had reviewers foaming at the mouth but it failed to engage me on any level and I gave up after a few chapters. Ben Schrank’s Love is a Canoe suffered a similar fate, although I regret the time I wasted reading it almost to the halfway mark. Bleurgh. Don’t waste your time with this one folks.
If you regularly read my round-ups you’ll know that I rarely read non-fiction but I’m a fan of Haruki Murakami and I’d heard lots of writers talk about his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running which is also a meditation on writing. I’d have to say most of the stuff about running didn’t interest me very much, and a lot of his ideas on writing didn’t particular resonate with me either, but it is always interesting to hear how other writers approach their craft.
Some Other Good Reads
With an unreliable narrator and a character with mental health issues The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer immediately ticked two of my favourite bookish boxes. Add to that a strong and convincing narrative voice and a suspenseful story, this book had me totally gripped. I tore through Charlotte Rogan’s The Lifeboat, loving the way murky ethical issues were explored in this historical survival at sea drama.
Last month I ‘discovered’ Louise Erdrich via her amazing novel The Round House. I followed up with The Plague of Doves, a novel in stories set in the same fictional world and though it didn’t enrapture me quite as much as The Round House, I still found much to love, especially the vividness of her prose and her insights into human nature, and into contemporary Native American culture.
Book of the Month
My favourite book this month was Joanna Herson’s A Dual Inheritance – a sweeping exploration of race and class in America from the 1960s to the present day, focusing on the relationship between two young men who meet while studying at Harvard, and whose lives remain intertwined for half a century, even as they struggle to move apart.
Your turn: What’s the best book you’ve read this month? Do any of these appeal to you?