It seems rather fitting that today, the 9th day of the 9th month, also finds us with 9 general non-fiction books to consider!
I’m really enjoying the diversity that is appearing in our non-fiction reading this year. During August we canvassed observational essays, environmental issues, parenting, true crime, politics, immigration and con artists.
New York is a slim volume of pieces, some trite, some whimsical, some sad, all the same length, around two and a half pages, maybe a thousand words, that feel like newspaper columns, casual, personal and beautifully crafted.
Cunningham has included line drawings of trees and some of their inhabitants throughout the chapters. Each essay is also littered with family stories and personal memories. Her reflections on grief and loss were particularly moving. However, it’s her love of trees and the knowledge she has gained about them over the years that is the centre piece of this work.
At the end of the book, Ms Cuskelly writes: ‘On my drive back to Melbourne, I feel I have caught a glimpse of what lies beyond this tale of murder, grief, cruelty, obstinacy and hard-headedness.’
We have the events, some (limited) sense of the impact of these murders on the community, and Jamieson’s self-pity. A glimpse perhaps, but no answers.
Over two hundred years of European settlement in Australia: an island continent colonised as a penal settlement. And in the Griffith Review 65, we have a collection of pieces: poems, stories, and photographs about crime, justice and punishment (for, surely, justice and punishment are not always the same).
This latest quarterly edition: 65 Crimes and Punishments (Text Publishing 2019), edited by Ashley Hay, explores our endless fascination with crime stories, both true crime and fiction, and navigates the ideas of retribution, punishment, incarceration, justice, victims, perpetrators, witnesses and advocates.
This was the perfect book for me. It’s highly entertaining, often funny, definitely reassuring and hugely vindicating – and yes, it deserves all those adverbs! Structured in small chapters, like blog posts, it’s also ideal for a life with constant distractions and interruptions. I would happily recommend it even if you have older kids, or you’ve never had kids but would like to understand – and then sympathise.
It has taken over forty years for the truth to trickle out, through vendettas, scribbled notes in archives, interviews, and re-evaluations. The story isn’t over yet: Jenny Hocking… is still pursuing ‘The Palace Letters’ between the Queen and her secretaries and Australia’s then-Governor General Sir John Kerr, which have been designated ‘personal and private’ by Buckingham Palace, and thus out of the reach of Australians.
The Happiness Glass (Spinifex Press 2018) by Carol Lefevre is a slim compendium volume of fiction, non-fiction essays and memoir exploring the ideas of homesickness, infertility, adoption, parenting and familial estrangement.
Waves by Donna Rawlins and illustrated by Heather Potter and Mark Jackson is a powerful picture book that seeks to educate its readers of the many world explorers, merchants, convicts, migrants and refugees that have travelled to Australia
Fake is not just an account of Wood’s unwitting involvement in a sham relationship, it’s a riveting exposé of con men across the world who use their narcissistic powers to take advantage of others for their own end.
She looks at the psychology of such fraudsters and fantasists to try to explain why they behave in such abhorrent ways and speaks to other women who have been similarly fooled
About Bronwyn: I have been a book blogger at Brona’s Books since 2009 and a bookseller (specialising in children’s literature) in Sydney since 2008. Prior to this I was as an Early Childhood teacher for 18 years in country NSW.
I joined the AWW team in 2015 as the History, Memoir, Biography editor. In 2017 I moved to the General Non-fiction page and in 2018 I picked up the role of editor of Poetry. You can also find me at The Classics Club as one of the new Gen 2 moderators.
I taught myself to read when I was four by memorising my Dr Seuss books. I haven’t stopped reading since.
You can find me on Twitter @bronasbooks and Litsy @Brona.