Tag: memoir

The Garden Against Time: In Search of a Common Paradise by Olivia Laing

Throughout The Garden Against Time, Laing returns to the concepts of gates and walls: while she sees the need for secrecy, or at least privacy, as having been crucial for the formation of what she calls a queer “counter-state” (213) in the face of oppression, she is well aware that borders and barriers to access are tools of oppression as well.

A review of Seeing Through by Ricky Ian Gordon

Even in the midst of this plague and the terrible death of so many beautiful people, most of whom I had a crush on as a teenager, there is always humour and a sense of the creative transformation which makes this book a constant joy to read. Ricky’s descriptions are so apt, darkly funny and full of delicious gossip, you want to commit them to memory for re-use.

A review of A Fire at the Center by Karen Van Fossan

What Van Fossan delivers is life—a progress report on a directed but unfinished life, painfully acquainted with ambiguity and exquisitely cast in vibrant minimalist prose. Ultimately, the shadow of the book left in the reader’s mind is neither bound wrists nor angry fist but palms, unchastened, reverently touching.

A review of Fugitive by Simon Tedeschi

Fugitive is a moving and thought-provoking book. It is pithy and at times, funny, full of minor transgressions, extensive scholarship, music and yes, poetry. There is so much compacted into each of these small pieces and yet Fugitives is airy, with enough space to encompass contradiction, breath and above all, silence, another recurring theme.

A review of A Brilliant Life by Rachelle Unreich

Unreich tells her mother’s story with an immediacy that feels close. Though Mira sees some of the worst of what human beings are capable of, she talks about her luck, and the goodness of people. Even in the midst of her worst hunger and bleakest moments, Mira never stops being a beacon of hope for those around her.

A review of Restless Dolly Maunder by Kate Grenville

Restless Dolly Maunder is an easy and fast-paced read. It may be labelled as fiction, and certainly Grenville uses all of her narrative capabilities to create such a compelling character, but the book is as much a story of Australia’s history as it is the tale of a strong, intelligent and thwarted woman whose struggles helped transform the lives of generations to follow.

A review of The Best Minds by Jonathan Rosen

Jonathan Rosen became best friends with Michael Lauder at age ten. His outstanding new book, The Best Minds, offers an assiduously researched and compelling portrait of the man. It also raises questions about the responsibilities of friendship, and the human capacity for denial. Twenty-five years have elapsed since Lauder’s criminal unravelling, a span that has given Rosen space and time not only to research the people and ideas of this story, but to sift through his own complex feelings about Lauder and the path his life took. 

A review of Places We Left Behind by Jennifer Lang

The basic plot of Places We Left Behind can be read and understood quickly, which Lang acknowledges with her handy timeline at the beginning. However, more thoughtful readings and re-readings allow for an appreciation of the full depth and grace of her journey and what it conveys about the meaning of Jewish practice and human relationships in general.