Post Script: The Museum of Words – Georgia Blain

The Museum of Words

The Museum of Words

Georgia Blain

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925322255

 

Description:

In late 2015, Georgia Blain was diagnosed with a tumour sitting right in the language centre of her brain. Prior to this, Georgia’s only warning had been a niggling sense that her speech was slightly awry. She ignored it, and on a bright spring day, as she was mowing the lawn, she collapsed on a bed of blossoms, blood frothing at her mouth.

 

Waking up to find herself in the back of an ambulance being rushed to hospital, she tries to answer questions, but is unable to speak. After the shock of a bleak prognosis and a long, gruelling treatment schedule, she immediately turns to writing to rebuild her language and herself.

 

At the same time, her mother, Anne Deveson, moves into a nursing home with Alzheimer’s; weeks earlier, her best friend and mentor had been diagnosed with the same brain tumour. All three of them are writers, with language at the core of their being.

 

The Museum of Words is a meditation on writing, reading, first words and last words, picking up thread after thread as it builds on each story to become a much larger narrative. This idiosyncratic and deeply personal memoir is a writer’s take on how language shapes us, and how often we take it for granted — until we are in danger of losing it.

 

 

My View:

The Museum of Words is gently and wisely written; it speaks of truths, of family history, of love and of course, of dying. It was deeply moving yet not depressing or self-indulgent.  Georgia Blain was a wordsmith extraordinaire, her love of words enriched the page. I wish there were more pages to turn, more books to read by this amazing writer.

 

A lyrical, moving read.

 

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Post Script: Miracles Do Happen – Fela and Felix Rosenbloom

A remarkable story of strength, resilience, family and survival.Miracles Do Happen

Miracles Do Happen

Fela and Felix Rosenbloom

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925322309

 

Description:

In 1933, a ten-year-old Jewish girl, Fela Perelman, befriended a new family that had moved into her street in Lodz, Poland. There were three children in the Rozenblum family — Rose, Felix, and Maria. Fela and Rose became best friends, while Felix kept his distance. Five years later, Fela and Felix discovered that they liked each other, and soon became sweethearts.

 

When war broke out not long after, the Jews of Lodz found themselves under German occupation, and were soon forced into a ghetto. For Fela and her family, and her community, it was the start of a descent into hell. Fela eventually survived the ghetto, forced labour in Germany, and then the last 17 months of Auschwitz’s existence and the death march out of it.

 

For Felix, the Germans’ intentions were crystal clear. Late in November 1939, as a 17-year-old, he decided to flee eastward, to Soviet-controlled Polish territory. He begged his family to come with him, but they felt unable to. Felix spent the war doing forced labour in the Soviet Union, often in very harsh conditions.

 

After the war, miraculously, Fela and Felix found each other. None of Fela’s family had survived. Of Felix’s immediate family, only his two sisters had survived — and they were now in Sweden. The young couple were bereft and alone. This is their story.

 

 

My View:

A remarkable story of strength, resilience, family and survival.

 

A poignant memoir that is told in two parts: Fela’s story of life pre-world war two, a time of innocence and meeting the boy who was destined to become her husband and an economically worded description of life during the war and as an inmate of Auschwitz and other detention centres. I am glad for the sparseness of words – what Fela has written must have been very difficult to survive let alone recount afterwards. The horrors penetrate event the toughest psyche.  Fela story ends with her migration to Australia.

 

Felix’s story is a little different – yet just as haunting and survival just as miraculous as that described in Fela’s narrative; forced labour in Russia was no doubt an extremely difficult and perilous, yet Felix survived and post war reconnected with Fela and eventually migrated to Australia.  What a remarkable story. What resilience!

 

I think we all would benefit from reading these courageous personal stories – a reminder of just how hostile life was during this ghastly inhuman war (all wars are unconscionable). There are lessons for all here.

 

PS

Love the cover art – the images and the tactile paper.

 

Post Script: Life, Law and Not Enough Shoes

PLife Law and Not Enough Shoes

Life, Law and Not Enough Shoes: Life As A Criminal Lawyer

Judith Fordham

New Holland

ISBN: 9781741105391

 

Description:

Judith Fordham has worn zebra –print shoes into a courtroom, represented transsexuals, bikies, alleged murderers and rapists, and raised four children on her own…this is her story, from early life struggling on welfare to becoming a barrister and Associate Professor of Forensics.

Her bold approach to life and law is inspiring, and her stories about the world of crime and justice are fascinating. From a well-known baby-shaking case to the forensic science of decomposing flesh, this is a no holds-barred account of crime and the law.

And then there’s the shoes. In lighter moments, she tells of suing a pink shoe phone in her early career (much to the annoyance of her then boss). Now she has the State Director of Public prosecutions sipping champagne out of her designer shoe.

Judith Fordham has managed to find fun outside the dark world of forensics and crime.

 

 

My View:

Reading an honest and open creative memoir is a joy, a little like sitting with an old friend, enjoying afternoon tea and reminiscing. Life, Law and Not Enough Shoes is one such read – some laugh out loud moments, a peak at the judiciary system from within, some heartrending moments and a quick look at an inspiring life – I almost want to go back to university to learn forensics, almost 🙂  Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining reading.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Understory: A Life With Trees – Inga Simpson

A unique and special memoir.Understory

Understory

A Life with Trees

Inga Simpson

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733635960

 

Description:

A journey of staying in once place, told through trees.

 

Each chapter of this nature-writing memoir explores a particular species of tree, layering description, anecdote, and natural history to tell the story of a scrap of forest in the Sunshine Coast hinterland – how the author came to be there and the ways it has shaped her life.

 

In many ways, it’s the story of a tree change, of escaping suburban Brisbane for a cottage on ten acres in search of a quiet life. Of establishing a writers retreat shortly before the Global Financial Crisis, and losing just about everything.

It is also the story of what the author found there: the literature of nature and her own path as a writer.

 

“I see the world through trees. Every window and doorway frames trunks, limbs, and leaves. My light is their light, filtered green. My air is their exhalation.”

 

 

My View:

I am a fan of the Inga Simpson’s previous works – Nest and Where the Trees Were (I have yet to read Mr Wigg – a book which has garnered much praise). I now have a little understanding of where those narratives came from, yet I was surprised to discover the depth of passion that Inga Simpson has for the environment. I don’t think I have ever met anyone with such passionate views, with such determination, with such a strong bond with the landscape they live in, a landscape that has determined so much of Inga Simpson’s life and lifestyle; quite amazing!

 

Every chapter of this engaging memoir connects the reader to a particular species of tree, the memories it evokes, personal anecdotes shared, the chaotic life of a writer juxtaposed against the solidness, the strength and longevity of the tree… what a unique way of looking at and presenting, Inga’s world to her readers.

 

A unique and special memoir.

 

Post Script: The Many Ways of Seeing – Nick Gleeson with Peter Bishop

The Many Ways of Seeing

Nick Gleeson with Peter Bishop

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781925384963

 

Description:

In desperation, I look up into mum’s face. A small face – a loving face —

                                   

And the lights go out. Her face is the last image I will ever see in my lifetime.

 

Blind since the age of seven, Nick Gleeson has spent his life learning to ‘see’ without seeing.

 

Growing up in the working-class Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows, Nick’s young life was defined by touch and smell: learning the shape of each shoe so he knew left from right. Holding the huge, rough hand of his father. Smelling the well-worn vinyl in the family car. Gently feeling the smooth top and soft underbelly of a mushroom he has picked.

 

When Nick meets Peter Bishop, Creative Director of Varuna, the Writers’ House, many years later, he has led an amazing life of physical adventuring. He’s scaled basecamp at Everest and the top of Kilimanjaro; he’s been a Paralympic athlete, a marathon runner, a skydiver. And, most recently, he’s been on an expedition to the Simpson Desert.

 

In a unique blend of memoir, conversation and insights into the writing process, together Peter and Nick have collaborated to share Nick’s compelling life journey with its many challenges, loves and losses.

 

The Many Ways of Seeing is an inspiring true story about determination in the face of hardship, the importance of trust and friendship and the wonderful relationship between a mentor and writer.

 

My View:

If you are seeking a read that will inspire you, will motivate you, that will, at times, bring tears to your eyes and will encourage you to see the world from a different perspective, then this book will meet your criteria – and then some.

 

Poignant, honest and open, Gleeson takes us on a journey of incredible fortitude, everyday courage.  Nick Gleeson is a remarkable role model… page after page of incredible accomplishments yet they are shrugged off as if ordinary.

 

Such lyrical writing – descriptive, poignant, engaging.

 

All the characters in this book, including the writers, demonstrate that warmth, love and trust is freeing, is enabling and promotes personal growth and happiness. Isn’t that what we all want?  I look forward to reading more of your work Nick Gleeson – and if ever we chance to meet – a hug will come your way 🙂

 

Post Script- Get A Life – Vivienne Westwood

Get A Life

The Diaries of Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood

Allan & Unwin

Serpents Tail

ISBN: 9781781854981

 

Description:

Vivienne Westwood began Get A Life, her online diary, in 2010 with an impassioned post about Native American activist Leonard Peltier. Since then, she has written two or three entries each month, discussing her life in fashion and her involvement with art, politics and the environment.

 

Reading Vivienne’s thoughts, in her own words, is as fascinating and provocative as you would expect from Britain’s punk dame – a woman who always says exactly what she believes. And what a life! One week, you might find Vivienne up the Amazon, highlighting tribal communities’ struggles to maintain the rainforest; another might see her visiting Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy, or driving up to David Cameron’s house in the Cotswolds in a full-on tank. Then again, Vivienne might be hanging out with her friend Pamela Anderson, or in India for Naomi Campbell’s birthday party, or watching Black Sabbath in Hyde Park with Sharon Osbourne.

 

The beauty of Vivienne Westwood’s diary is that it is so fresh and unpredictable. In book form, generously illustrated with her own selection of images, it is irresistible.

 

 

My View:

Stunning production qualities alone make this book very collectable.  And then there are the personal colour photographs, fashion, celebrities, musings and reflections; the passion that is Vivienne Westwood.

 

Add it to your bookshelf.

 

 

Brenda’s Top Ten Aussie Author Reads of 2016

It has been a great year for Aussie authors and readers alike. Here is guest reviewer  Brenda’s Top Ten picks of 2016. In no particularly order ( click on links to see Brenda’s reviews on Goodreads.)

fear-is-the-riderFear is the Rider

Kenneth Cook.

 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1506198294?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

scared-to-deathScared to Death

Rachel Amphlett

 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1774526984?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

red-dirt-odysseyRed Dirt Odyssey

Kath Engebretson

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1819270982?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

the-last-crocodile-hunter

The Last Crocodile Hunter

Bob Irwin and Amanda French

  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1795309647?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

fearlessFearless

Fiona Higgins

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1696711298?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

the-chocolate-tin

The Chocolate Tin

Fiona McIntosh

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1654937999?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

the-art-of-keeping-secrets

The Art of Keeping Secrets

Rachael Johns

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1682401798?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

the-wifes-tale

The Wife’s Tale

Christine Wells

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1613736070?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

the-game-you-played

The Game You Played

Anni Taylor

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1622987075?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

Darkest Place

Darkest Place

Jaye Ford

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1476681496?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

Thanks Brenda, there have been some awesome books written by Australian authors this year, it must have been a real task to choose just ten.