Category: Non fiction reviews

A review of The Writers Room by Charlotte Wood

Most of the writers interviewed came across as incredibly generous, surprisingly humble, and warm and accessible. Wood allowed the writers to approve their interviews before they went to print, and the resulting transcripts are beautifully readable, smooth and lucid, without losing any of the candid nature of the conversations, or the intimacy. I felt, above all, that the information provided in these interviews was a tremendous act of generosity – not just in terms of authors sharing their best tricks, their struggles and their visions, but also because of the way these discussions draw the reader almost directly into the writing process.

A review of How to get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Frugality is Howard-Johnson’s stock-in-trade, and since none of her suggestions involve a large outlay, I’d say that picking up a copy of this book is about the most frugal and valuable thing a new author can do in order to generate inexpensive and highly credible publicity. The book is easy to read, and rich with Howard-Johnson’s own considerable experience. Above all, I think the point that she makes about treating the acquiring of reviews, not as an ancillary activity, but an integral part of the promotional campaign and one that cannot be skimped on, is key.

A review of The Abecedarium of the Artist’s Death by Moussa Kone

Kone’s drawings are beautifully composed and are not without a healthy dollop of black humour (e.g. ‘I is for Ingrid who trusted her friends…’) but for the most part they are quirky and amusing rather than disquieting, as is almost always the case with Gorey. They will raise a wry smile, certainly, but they won’t put you on edge as Gorey’s drawings are wont to do.

A review of Tenderness and Temperature by Caroline Bachmann and Stefan Banz

Cemeteries are strange spaces, otherworldly (a gateway to the afterlife) yet of this world. You see an angel’s wings and, looking lost, a child’s teddy bear. That glint of sunlight piercing oblivion’s black veil is sacred, holy are those red and pink flowers laid by the earth in which the Dead are buried – not a uniquely human custom, for the Neanderthals buried their loved ones.

This is Not my Life by Diane Schoemperlen

As a left-wing person raised to practise the Golden Rule, I have felt guilty about it, since, on at least one significant occasion, my life was transformed by someone who took a chance on me. The question of when to open one’s heart and when to close it is an ongoing one. Diane Schoemperlen’s experience with Shane casts light on this question and makes us feel less alone in the struggle. Her wry humour and way with words keep it from being maudlin.

A review of Nagasaki by Craig Collie

The atomic bomb, that infamous masterpiece of twenty-century technology created by the allies’ best brains trust and costing two billion dollars, was almost brought undone due to military maintenance malfunctions. Craig Collie has skilfully put together a splendid chronological record of mankind’s most successful killing implement and the combined consequences of a double dose of its destruction.

A review of Mick: A life of Randolph Stow by Suzanne Falkiner

This first full biography by Suzanne Falkiner of Julian Randolph Stow, known by those close to him as Mick, is thorough and engaging. I first encountered his novels at university twenty-five years ago, and was drawn to the mysterious Visitants, the subject of our study at the time, and later read The suburbs of hell, but it wasn’t until I first heard that this biography was being published that I read two more of his novels to remind myself of his depth and style.

A review of Museum of Unheard (of) Things by Roland Albrecht

These stories, which function to cast a dim aura to the otherwise miserable objects, are “Unerhörten” in the two sense of that German word: they are “unheard” and “unheard of”—unknown and outrageous, suppressed and surprising. But for the non-German speakers, this adjective carried a third meaning: it was impossible to hear them, because all the stories could only be read in German. Until now, that is. The 78 stories in the entire collection have been translated into English by You Nakai and Alexander Booth, assembled together following the order of their weight, and published as the official catalogue raisonné of the museum.

A review of The Civil War, A Narrative by Shelby Foote

The Civil War, A Narrative exemplifies the awfulness, overtiredness, dirt and stench of war. It was a time of fading hope, misinterpretation, fundamental disquiet vis-à-vis the future and an anxiety that the war which everyone had hoped would end rapidly, would not. Notwithstanding the nearly 900 page enormity of the work, is an edition to be studied by serious scholars of history.

A review of Review of Researching Creative Writing by Jen Webb

This is a book that has the potential to help creative writers ‘make knowledge festive’ in the process of creating their research projects. It is structured logically so as to make for optimal comprehension. It is superbly written and gives exciting examples of writers and books that illustrate the process of researching creative writing and writing as research.