Categories
Book review

“The Third Hotel” by Laura Van Den Berg – book review

I liked The Third Hotel. At least, I think I did. 

Everything about this book makes me pause for thought. It’s both easy and difficult to read, clear cut and yet confusing. 

Just like the intro to this review, it’s conflicting and uncertain.

Categories
Poetry

And now for something unexpected … a poem

As a delusional suburban teen, I longed for the gritty urban world of T.S. Eliot’s poetry. Never mind that it depicted desperate and decadent lives filled with sordid mornings after – to me, that was aspirational (actually, it still is).

I was also hooked on the rhythm and flow of Eliot’s poetry, which was unlike anything I came across before … or since.

“Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:”

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

It was Eliot that first made me want to become a writer and, as ridiculous as I feel saying this, the kind of writer I wanted to become was a poet. 

So from the age of 16 I began to secretly write bad poems. At first I just imitated Eliot, since I found most other poets pretentious or prissy or, more often than not, unfathomable (though Keats has his moments). And then I came across Charles Bukowski, and tried to imitate him (and trust me when I say Bukowski is a million times easier to imitate than Eliot). And then … I just stopped for several decades.

Fast forward until last year, when I wrote a poem with a whole different style than anything I’d tried before. And then (get ready for some pretentiousness) it was shortlisted by the Lord Mayor’s Creative Awards in Melbourne. And then (yes, even more pretentiousness!) it was published by The Blue Nib literary journal. 

So without further adieu, you can read my humble poem here:

Categories
Book review

“Olive, Again” by Elizabeth Strout – book review

Oh Godfrey, as Olive Kitteridge likes to exclaim, I adored this book.

Olive is the blunt, borderline rude retired teacher at the heart of this novel (though in many ways it’s more a collection of interconnected stories), and you grow to love her the more you get to know her – especially when she throws caution to the wind and starts dating Jack, an equally blunt and pot-bellied old man who likes tooling around in his sports car while taunting police officers and drinking whiskey.

Categories
Book review

“Crudo” by Olivia Laing – book review

I have three confessions to make.

The first is I’ve never read Kathy Acker. This is probably my loss.

The second is you probably need to have read Kathy Acker to enjoy Crudo, which is written in Kathy’s voice.

The third is I had no idea what Crudo was about when I bought it. Instead, I simply did what I normally do in a bookshop: read the first two pages and, if I don’t shudder in disgust, buy the book. 

Categories
Book review

“No One” by John Hughes – book review

One-sentence review: Haunting, confusing, beautiful and yet tenebrous. 

Slightly longer review:

Categories
Book review

“Ayoade on Top” by Richard Ayoade – book review

One-sentence review: If you know and like Richard Ayoade’s unique sense of humour, this is for you.

Categories
Book review

“The Summer of My Amazing Luck” by Miriam Toews – book review

One-sentence review: Wry, dry (even though it’s set in a rainy Canadian city) and moving.

Categories
Book review

“Slow Days, Fast Company” by Eve Babitz – book review

One-sentence review: Pure, unadulterated hedonistic literary escapism. 

Categories
Book review

“Outline” by Rachel Cusk – book review

One-sentence review: A quiet, thoughtful and seductive look into other people’s fears and relationships. 

Categories
Book review

“French Exit” by Patrick deWitt – book review

One-sentence review: like a PG Wodehouse comedy but with a darker edge.