Between the Covers - Oct 22
by Robert Drewe and
'10 Stories You Must Read This Year'- an anthology of Robert Drewe, Anita Heiss, Toni Jordan, Tom Keneally, Kathy Lette, Monica McInerney, William McInnis, Melinda Marchetta, Jack Marx, and Peter Temple.
This month I've done something different: I've taken a book from the Government's annual '50 books you must read' program. Run every September to balance the GST, a selection of 50 books are subsidised with a buy-one, get-one-free deal. This year the free book is the anthology of short stories mentioned above. The Book Warehouse has about 40 left and the deal will be honoured until they are gone. This program has a terrific range of books to choose from, including The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville, and Wanting by Richard Flannagan, to name a few. I chose Robert Drewe's latest offering, a collection of short stories called The Rip, and immersed myself in two books of short stories.
In Robert Drewe's book, many stories are set in the Northern Rivers region, and I particularly liked The Life Alignment of the Coffee Grower, a story dealing with one man's difficulties coming to terms with his life after his wife leaves him. I loved the coffee plantation details, the python that comes down out of the rafters to live on the television set when the weather gets rough, and the way this conservative man is drawn into the 'hippie' lifestyle he abhors. With some stories, I found the endings less than satisfactory, but there were others I loved. The constant use of brackets in the narrative I found mildly irritating, but the local detail and familiarity of place names were satisfying. This book will be especially interesting to people who live in this region, I think.
In the give-away anthology, I really enjoyed Hate at First Sight , Kathy Lette's story contrasting Sydney with an outback town, despite the overabundance of adjectives and similes. L ife in a Hotel Room by William McInnes was a finely drawn character study. The last story in the book, Letters From a Drunk to a Long Gone Wife by Jack Marx, I found a mesmerising, horrible read. This very interesting anthology is a dip into the style and imaginations of our best novelists.
Books reviewed are available at the Book Warehouse in Keen Street, Lismore, and at Lismore Shopping Square.