Are you going?
We love Sydney Writer’s Festival time at Brays. Customers and staff alike are abuzz with anticipation and talking books to anyone who’ll listen!
Libby and Bron are getting even more Ferrante Fever next week as they head off to see translator Ann Goldstein chat with Emma Alberici, Drusilla Modjeska and Benjamin Law about the international allure of the Neapolitan series.
Sam was lucky to get a ticket for Jonathan Franzen’s soldout My Reading Life event. Bronwyn is also going on the road with Gloria Steinem and to ruin with Nikki Savva while Libby hopes to catch up with Drusilla Modjeska and Jeanette Winterson. Tim, as always, is keen to listen to some of the panel discussions.
We still have plenty of SWF program’s available for you to pick up and a display of some of the books featured in the week long event.
In the meantime, we’ve been reading…
Philip enjoyed Alain de Botton’s Course of Love.
We all know the headiness and excitement of the early days of love. But what comes after? In Edinburgh, a couple, Rabih and Kirsten, fall in love. They get married, they have children—but no long-term relationship is as simple as “happily ever after.” The Course of Love is a novel that explores what happens after the birth of love, what it takes to maintain love, and what happens to our original ideals under the pressures of an average existence. You experience, along with Rabih and Kirsten, the first flush of infatuation, the effortlessness of falling into romantic love, and the course of life thereafter. Interwoven with their story and its challenges is an overlay of philosophy—an annotation and a guide to what we are reading.
This is a Romantic novel in the true sense, one interested in exploring how love can survive and thrive in the long term. The result is a sensory experience—fictional, philosophical, psychological—that urges us to identify deeply with these characters, and to reflect on his and her own experiences in love. Fresh, visceral, and utterly compelling, The Course of Love is a provocative and life-affirming novel for everyone who believes in love.
Libby has found a new love with Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain.
Ester is a family therapist with an appointment book that catalogues the anxieties of the middle class: loneliness, relationships, death. She spends her days helping others find happiness, but her own family relationships are tense and frayed. Estranged from both her sister, April, and her ex-husband, Lawrence, Ester wants to fall in love again. Meanwhile, April is struggling through her own directionless life; Lawrence’s reckless past decisions are catching up with him; and Ester and April’s mother, Hilary, is about to make a choice that will profoundly affect them all.
Taking place largely over one rainy day in Sydney, and rendered with the evocative and powerful prose Blain is known for, Between a Wolf and a Dog is a celebration of the best in all of us — our capacity to live in the face of ordinary sorrows, and to draw strength from the transformative power of art. Ultimately, it is a joyous tribute to the beauty of being alive.
Sam has just finished (and thoroughly enjoyed) the Pulitzer Prize winning book from 2014 The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
Sara is gushing about Helen Garner’s latest non-fiction work, Everywhere I Look.
Spanning fifteen years of work, Everywhere I Look is a book full of unexpected moments, sudden shafts of light, piercing intuition, flashes of anger and incidental humour. It takes us from backstage at the ballet to the trial of a woman for the murder of her newborn baby. It moves effortlessly from the significance of moving house to the pleasure of re-reading Pride and Prejudice.
Everywhere I Look includes Garner’s famous and controversial essay on the insults of age, her deeply moving tribute to her mother and extracts from her diaries, which have been part of her working life for as long as she has been a writer. Everywhere I Look glows with insight. It is filled with the wisdom of life.
Tim has just been amazed by Robin de Crespigny’s The People Smuggler.
After his father, brother and he were incarcerated and tortured in Saddam’s Abu Ghraib, Ali al Jenabi escaped from Iraq first to work with the anti-Saddam resistance in Iran and then to help his family out of the country all together. When Saddam’s forces advance towards their refugee camp, Ali helps his family flee into Iran before going on in an attempt to get to Australia – a country they know nothing about but understand to be safe, free and compassionate.
When Ali reaches Indonesia he is betrayed by a people smuggler – a common experience – which prompts him to establish his own business that will treat fellow refugees more fairly.
This is the engrossing story of how he survived his years without a passport or a state, how the people smuggling business functions, and how Ali was treated when he and his family finally arrived in Australia. It will open a country’s eyes to what refugees are fleeing from, and what makes them risk their lives and the lives of their families in seeking safety.
Bronwyn has just finished LaRose by Louise Endrich – a powerful tale of retribution and redemption.
In this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich, the bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture.
North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich.
The youngest child of his friend and neighbor, Peter Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux’s five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools; and Landreaux’s wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty’s mother, Nola. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to an Ojibwe tribe tradition—the sweat lodge—for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them.
Inspiring and affecting, LaRose is a powerful exploration of loss, justice, and the reparation of the human heart, and an unforgettable, dazzling tour de force from one of America’s most distinguished literary masters.
While the sleep-deprived Claire and Emily are too busy with uni work to read anything other than course notes and class texts.
Pop in or tell us below what you’ve been reading and loving lately.