What Reykjavík does get absolutely right is the Russian regime’s century-long predilection for poisoning its critics, dissidents and traitors. Arkadi Vaksberg’s meticulous history The Poison Laboratory: From Lenin to Putin (Gallimard) details the state’s expertise at home and abroad in silencing its enemies, all the way from Lenin’s order in 1921 to create a poison laboratory.
It is entertaining for anyone familiar with the works it lovingly skewers (note the culinary metaphor) and it is strangely compelling even if, like me, you haven’t read Conrad for a long time. It is quietly witty and also serious. It manages to borrow something of the gravitas of Conrad’s novel and – like all good parody – it makes you want to return to the original for a fresh look.
The narrative presents a deftly crafted tale relating the journey of a young woman who manages to face, accept and overcome what many would believe to be an impossible childhood. Periods of normalcy are interspersed with periods that are anything but normal, receiving and unexpectedly having pets given away, or left behind, left on her own way too often by both her Mother and Wolf cause Fiona to do much of the raising of herself.
Comedy is often no laughing matter. It requires a great deal of talent and hard work to get it right, much of it collaborative. It is notoriously difficult to perform. It is a medium that is often undervalued and misperceived as trivial or mere entertainment. When it’s bad it’s bad; when it’s good, we are so busy laughing that we cannot reflect about it afterwards.
Rush is a great read, a gentle-hearted literary novel of the New South telling an eye-opening, entertaining story with a conscious. The book is impeccably well-written and deserves the accolades that are coming its way.
Without exception, her characters are fully realized, interesting and complex; each has his or her own voice. They are from the working class and the underclass, and occasionally the criminal class. Their tragi-comic story is engaged with our times and resonates precisely with the national zeitgeist. A Body’s Just as Dead entertains us, enlightens us, moves us. It is a fine novel and a joy to read.
Salloum bravely brings the reader into her fictional psychological and experienced discomfort zone. We follow Arabella into crowded AA meetings, observing frightening declarations, addiction denials and relationship failures. We watch as her broken heart bleeds, and all the while continually hope and pray for Arabella’s redemption.
Reid’s informative depiction of one such episode should become essential reading within the national high school curriculum and would also provide a great foundation for supervised classroom discussion groups exploring these issues and the consequences of such actions.
There is never a dull moment throughout Villareal’s novel. I’m not generally the type of reader who’s into vampires, but this novel is on a completely different foundation. Villareal’s detailed portrayals will be very familiar to readers. His gloamings are out there now – they are those celebrities and political leaders that we worship and imitate. This is a book with wide-reaching appeal, which is going to be very very big. You heard it here first.
Lane has chosen Saint Albans, a NSW inland settlement located on the Macdonald River on the same latitude as Tuggerah and Central Mangrove fictionalised as Lochway. Lane’s characters are well-defined and likeable. Her narrative leaves an impression of familiarity and association. Using the central figure as an author automatically opened up a vault of her own personal experiences to relate with and enrich the book’s content.