Moving, astute with a subtleness that belies the expert analysis of the human condition.
Too Much Happiness
Ten superb new stories by one of our most beloved and admired writers—the winner of the 2009 Man Booker International Prize.
In the first story a young wife and mother receives release from the unbearable pain of losing her three children from a most surprising source. In another, a young woman, in the aftermath of an unusual and humiliating seduction, reacts in a clever if less-than-admirable fashion. Other stories uncover the “deep-holes” in a marriage, the unsuspected cruelty of children, and how a boy’s disfigured face provides both the good things in his life and the bad. And in the long title story, we accompany Sophia Kovalevsky—a late-nineteenth-century Russian émigré and mathematician—on a winter journey that takes her from the Riviera, where she visits her lover, to Paris, Germany, and, Denmark, where she has a fateful meeting with a local doctor, and finally to Sweden, where she teaches at the only university in Europe willing to employ a female mathematician.
With clarity and ease, Alice Munro once again renders complex, difficult events and emotions into stories that shed light on the unpredictable ways in which men and women accommodate and often transcend what happens in their lives.
Too Much Happiness is a compelling, provocative—even daring—collection.
These short stories will do many things; they will move you, they will make you think and re think your own assumptions and beliefs and in some you will find optimism and some you will find human failings subtly revealed in what at first appears to be a simple recounting of events or life’s history. These short stories will surprise you.
In particular I thought the first story, Dimensions was a powerful and emotive read with a bleakness that tugged at my heart. I did however think that the villain in the piece was let off too lightly by this author – an insanity verdict to my mind excused the behaviour; the crime was inexcusable. I did however enjoy the ending, the small ray of optimism that shone through.
Something that did indeed surprise me was Child’s Play, what a revelation! (No spoilers here, you need to buy the book).
Alice Munro writes with an ease and a simplicity that belies the deep psychological understanding she has of the human condition; of the foibles and failings that make us human. These short stories will make you think, will open your eyes.
We are dog/house sitting. Here are Bob and Star looking very relaxed:)
A real Aussie larrikin.
‘A holiday is a time when you do lovely things that you never get a chance to really do otherwise.’ So Iris McInnes told her young son, William, as she tried to explain the meaning of a holiday.
This book is about the Australian love affair with holidays.
It is about going away and staying home. It’s about the relaxing times you had as a kid, escapes you have with your children and the stories you hear from your friends.
It can be about a romantic sunset, the spare seat at breakfast being taken by an attractive stranger, a miraculous airline upgrade – or missing bags, unfortunate rashes and wrong turns that lead to places you definitely did not intend to go.
But most of all it’s about being in your backyard in an above ground pool, floating in circles, staring at the clouds as you go round and round and knowing that life is sweet because you are on holidays.
My View: William McInnes – a real Aussie larrikin.
At the beginning of this book I laughed so much the tears ran down my cheeks, at the end I cried silent sad tears. A remarkable book of memories and more.
William McInnes writes a beautiful creative memoir; he paints colourful images of the innocence of childhood, life in a small town, growing up, family holidays, and then about the holidays he created with his own family and the last holiday he had with his wife before she died.
I especially like hearing the tales written in his childhood voice – his first recollection of a holiday with his mum and siblings that involved the wonder of train travel (some hilarious laugh out loud anecdotes around train toilets…) and memories of school holidays and then the outrageous recounting of “school holiday activities” (I know you will either have your own memories of these type of activities or you would have enrolled your own children in the like), “All across Australia there were schemes, plans, events – activities – that were designed to entertain holidaying children and get them out of their parent’s hair for a few hours a day…Basket weaving, pottery, painting, orienteering, craft design, woodwork and holiday swim camps. Almost any activity that could be thought of to eat up holiday time got a run in the suburbs of Australia.” (p.51) I loved the story of the “Day long body building and health ‘tutorial’.” This particular story is pure childhood, fun and full of fart jokes – a kid’s paradise. This started me laughing once again so much so I had to explain the reason to my husband; I laughed so much explaining the joke I cried.
Hidden amongst these hilarious anecdotes are gems of wisdom and astute observations. At one time McInnes is working away from home staying in a hotel, alone in his room he starts to feel lonely then has a revelation: “I realise I am no that lonely. I lie here and think of how much I like my friends. How much I love my family, the one I grew up with and the one I have…Sometimes the best place to realise what you’ve got is the loneliest place.” p.216) This book is filled with such gems.
McInnes concludes this charming, fascinating account of holidays and what they mean with these words; “It’s when the memories of a place, and the people who passed the time with you there, all come colliding with the present that the acute feeling of simply being human can be so great. (p. 279)…and “How, if we are lucky and are loved enough, we might become cherished holiday memories, for holidays may be the realest, most sweetest part of life.”(p. 286)
Read “Holidays”, laugh, cry, remember…plan your next holiday now.
Love, anger, grief – all were weapons in their own way. (p. 340)
The Wolf in Winter (Charlie Parker #12)
Hodder & Stoughton
Prosperous, and the secret that it hides beneath its ruins . . .
The community of Prosperous, Maine has always thrived when others have suffered. Its inhabitants are wealthy, its children’s future secure. It shuns outsiders. It guards its own. And at the heart of Prosperous lie the ruins of an ancient church, transported stone by stone from England centuries earlier by the founders of the town . . .
But the death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw the haunted, lethal private investigator Charlie Parker to Prosperous. Parker is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, by rage, and by the desire for vengeance. In him the town and its protectors sense a threat graver than any they have faced in their long history, and in the comfortable, sheltered inhabitants of a small Maine town, Parker will encounter his most vicious opponents yet.
Charlie Parker has been marked to die so that Prosperous may survive.
This instalment in the Charlie Parker series left me wanting more. Connolly cleverly writes in characters/story arcs with a history from the previous eleven books in this one and so I think it is really important to read the others in order before attempting this. Connolly weaves a Gothic like tale, it is moody and atmospheric and very mysterious and the conclusion finishes with a cliff hanger; but the pacing is patchy and not quite as engaging as the previous novels. I think this episode sets up the next read brilliantly – and that I can’t wait for.
PS the soundtrack to the novels – Ghosts – is great.
More thoughts on writing and self publishing :)
Originally posted on Australian Women Writers Challenge:
I can’t imagine ever not wanting to tell stories.
– Annabel Smith
In case you have been living under a rock, our very own Annabel Smith, she of the interviewing and other exciting things on Australian Women Writers, is not only an Australian and female but also a writer herself.
And so over the past few months, we have been badgering her to tell us about her third book The Ark, which finally in the midst of writing her fourth book she relented to do. You can’t accuse her of not being organised or prolific.
And The Ark is important – not only is Annabel going down the self-publishing route via Gumroad for this book but she has also created an app for the readers who want to delve into the experience a bit more via the wonders of digital publishing.
It says something about Annabel’s view…
View original 1,540 more words
“Never doubt the gut instinct.” (p193)
Karen M Davis
Simon & Schuster
A CBS Company
A young nurse’s body is found at Clovelly Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Apart from a puncture wound in her neck, she is in perfect condition. But she’s also clutching a rose in her hands – and there’s an empty packet of prescription drugs in her pocket.
Investigating the scene, Detective Lexie Rogers and her partner Brad Sommers know something is not right. It appears to be a staged suicide. And as they begin to dig deeper, Lexie discovers the case is too close to home.
The dead girl was a work colleague of Lexie’s ex-husband, who is now a paramedic – and she was also a friend of the woman who broke up Lexie’s marriage. Struggling as she is with her breakup with Josh Harrison, who pushed her away after the suicide of his sister, and the numbing flashbacks of the violent attacks she’s suffered in the past, Lexie throws herself into the case. When she’s handed the lead on the investigation, Lexie sets out to solve the murder and prove she’s up to the job.
This is the second book in the Lexie Rogers series and I really enjoyed the pace, the narrative arcs, the characters and the resolution. Karen M Davis fantastic Australian crime fiction writer who has a very solid base of knowledge to call on when writing her novels; she had a twenty year career in the New South Wales police department – her personal operational experience, the language and dialogue between the cops in her fictional works shine through her fictional works.
To say I enjoyed this book is a bit of an understatement and I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.