"Art is not a thing; it is a way."

Elbert Hubbard

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Being Dead by Jim Crace is the reason why this reader reads books. His use of language is beauty wrapped up in words. Even with a grim premise this reader just wanted to read and read and read and read. For those who are lovers of language it is a must. For those who like a good family drama it is a must. For those who like crime scene gore it is a must. It's simply a great book. It may be this reader's favourite book. Ever.

Shortlisted for the Booker a few years back is Rachel Seiffert's debut novel The Dark Room. Essentially three short stories placed together, the novel tells the story of three Germans before, during and after World War II. Beautifully realised the novel barely sets a foot wrong as we learn how the war affected those on the inside of German boundaries. It's an immensely sad and
powerful reading experience and an astonishing debut.

Far from Booker-prize territory is Massimo Carlotto's The Master Of Knots. Slight in size but grimy in nature this crime-novella is a grisly examination of sadomasochism and the Italian underworld. It's fast-paced and interestingly written with a tone not often present in Western writing. Even despite his famed personal history, The Master Of Knots is example enough of why Carlotto is a household name.

Far from literary genius but no less the household name is writer, James Patterson. His novels have been massive hits worldwide for years. This one, Miracle On The 17th Green, which is a collaboration with Peter de Jonge, strays from his crime-laden canon and attempts to tell a tale of a man making good. It's slight and easily read and not wholly unappetising it's just that this fluff is so far from good it makes one wonder how he is as successful as he is.

Far from successful but not unknown is the Australian author Elaine Forrestal. Making her mint in the world of children's literature, Forrestal has garnered a reputation for writing cleverly structured, place-driven narratives. Someone Like Me is a fantastic achievement in her canon, however, The Watching Lake pales in comparison. It's an atmospheric but unconvincing take on the ghost story that tries to incorporate the Indigenous mysticism of the past unsuccessfully. It's a let down knowing the strength of Forrestal's previous work.

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