In Homer’s long and legendary poem The Iliad, one of the founding works of Greek and world literature, written in the eight century before the existence of Christ, a great cast of characters, conflicts, and choices seems to contain the wealth and wisdom of the ages: about the seduction and abduction of the Spartan queen Helen by a prince of Troy, and the war that follows, including a fight between the princes Achilles and Hector, there is a clash of cultures, and an exploration of heroism and hubris, that suggest the fundamentals of civilization.
A review of Be Sincere Even When You don’t Mean It: The Memoirs of Jimmy Sizemore by Jim Flynn
Flynn’s attention to detail in describing Sizemore’s various meetings and situations is what makes the story so believable and hilarious. Always the gentleman (“I’d learned through osmosis from my father that you always compliment somebody before you turn them down”), he gets what he wants with a smile. It’s a lesson in how to conduct yourself in the most difficult situations with the most persuasive people. There are very few revered institutions and American ideals that are left unscathed by Flynn, and rightfully so.
A review of Fifty Miles by Sheryl St Germain
Reading Fifty Miles brought me to tears a few times, but St Germain courage and determination inspired me and made me reflect as a mother. Fifty Miles is a book that won’t disappoint readers.
A review of Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin
Axiomatic is a gorgeous, difficult and extraordinary book that demands deep engagement from the reader. Tumarkin’s humility, dark humour, scholarship, and above all, the empathy with which she connects her own experience to that of her subjects and ultimately to that of the reader creates a tapestry that is moving, powerful, and important. This is a book that seeps under the skin, changing perception. It’s vital reading.
A review of Bone Chalk by Jim Reese
Whether serious or silly, Reese’s prose reads like poetry. He says more in a paragraph than most authors achieve over several pages. The final chapters are the shortest and most personal vignettes featuring his wife, daughters and co-workers. Reese finds the profound in everyday, parochial life in Bone Chalk.
A review of The Wrong Dog by David Elliot Cohen
Part Marley and Me, part Bucket List, part travel memoir, Cohen’s book tells the story of Simba, a larger-than-life Labrador retriever whose physical size is matched only by his love of people. Cohen’s wife, Laureen, was technically Simba’s owner (he was bought by her first husband), but as is the case with blended families, when Cohen and Laureen married, their five children and the dog quickly became a cohesive unit.
A review of M Train by Patti Smith
Smith would have us believe that is a book about nothing. She opens it with a phrase from a dream that haunts her: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” Those of us who recognise her intense grief, and the determination to capture these experiences in poetic prose, will disagree that this is a book about nothing. Perhaps it’s a book where “nothing” happens: it becomes something.
A review of Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small, edited by Amy Ferris and Hollye Dexter
Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories that Kept Us Small is a powerful nonfiction anthology by 27 professional women who share their real stories (and use their real names) to inspire others to become unafraid of the shadows that haunt their lives, and to shed the feelings that promise them they will never be good enough for the kind of life they want or ought to have.
A review of Joyful Strains: Making Australia Home, edited by Kent MacCarter and Ali Lemer
Most of the writers included have become, as Val Colic-Peisker puts it, reasonably domesticated. The displacement and bullying is mainly in the past, but the sense of self and how the settled adult relates to the life left behind, is something that continues to transform.
A review of Now What: A Philosophy of Freedom and Equality by Michael Lydon
The book is entirely empirical, encouraging readers to conduct regular and direct (that is, immediately experiential) experiments in order to prove the tenets, and then to live by its dictates. Because the book is almost childlike in its optimism, inclusiveness and warmth, it functions as a kind of self-help guide to living an authentic and happy life