What Claire is reading
Killer Traitor Spy by Tim Ayliffe is the third book in a thriller/crime series which centres on John Bailey a Sydney based journalist, ex foreign correspondent and his CIA mate, Ronnie Johnson. I have to declare an interest here. Tim is a colleague at the ABC and a friend but I would not be writing this if this series did not warrant praise. I’m not a big reader of crime or thrillers so it has to be really good to get me in. This series is terrific and I reckon would make a great Christmas present for anyone who loves a good thriller read. The bedrock of the story in Killer, Traitor, Spy is Russian espionage and political corruption in Canberra.
The second novel – Enemy Within – centres on right wing extremism and the first – The Greater Good – on the emerging great power contest between China and the US and you have to get to the end for a plot twist which riffs on a mystery from Australian political history. Tim spoke with the ABC’s Michael Brissendon at a Roaring Stories event a few months ago and you can watch it below. Click here to purchase the book.
Before Tim’s latest novel, I read Anna Funder’s Wifedom: Mrs Orwell’s Invisible Life. This is a novel that has been much talked about in recent months. It has attracted criticism from those who take issue with, amongst other things, the accuracy of some of the skeleton facts from the great journalist and writer George Orwell’s life. I found this a very compelling read. Funder ‘s voice is very appealing and she exposes herself to the reader in how the invisibility of so much of our wifework still enslaves women in the domestic and reproductive spheres of our lives, despite feminism’s many successes.
I have also recently read the The Wren, The Wren by Anne Enright. She writes so beautifully in this meditative novel about motherhood and family trauma.
This weekend, I am excited to start Richard Flanagan’s Question 7. I’m a Flanagan fan and if you are thinking of starting this book too, I recommend listening to a wonderful conversation he has with Richard Fidler on the ABC’s Conversation podcast. After listening to him in this episode, I can now hear his voice, cadence, tone and emphasis as I read the start of the book.
To purchase the books online click here.
What Tim is reading
Writing a recommendation for Louis de Bernières’ new novel ‘Light Over Liskeard’ is a real pleasure. I’d say that de Bernières is overall one of my favourite writers and one of my Desert Island authors.
His writing is realistic about the world and its inhabitants and he has the ability to write in a uniquely humorous manner that exposes artifice in human behaviour whilst celebrating true eccentricity and emotion.
As I read ‘Light Over Liskeard’ which is set in the near future in Britain and which strikes me as a creative mind’s attempt to get to grips with the technological and societal insanities of our age. I get the feeling that he knows and understands people and has learnt that despite our minds’ urge to normalise and rationalise this thing called life that the spark of magic is stronger still.
The world becomes bigger in his writing and reading him makes me believe anew that within the craft and exercise of literature is contained perhaps that most fulfilling and vital task of proving that the poetic imagination has no barriers.
To purchase the book online click here.
What Sylvia is reading
I got struck down with another bout of covid this month, and making my way through Sarah Firth’s new graphic novel Eventually Everything Connects was the main thing that helped me not lose my entire mind. I clung on to it like some kind of baby marsupial, and it piggybacked me safely to the other side of a week trapped at home with my marbles (mostly) accounted for.
Actually, ‘marvellous intellectual piggyback ride’ is probably quite a good way to characterise Eventually Everything Connects. Over eight graphic essays, Firth invites the reader into her wide-ranging explorations of science, philosophy and history, and the ways these are braided into daily life and our present moment in the anthropocene. She observes the complex webs of interconnection that make up the natural world, as well as our own internal ones. Rendered in funny, frank and vivid illustration, these investigations are thoughtful and articulate; Firth asks both playful and profound questions of the multivalence of human experience, and it’s such a delight to tag along on her thought process. My favourite chapters were ‘We Were Here’ (about the memory, matter, the inevitability of change) and ‘Desire Lines’ (about sensuality, intimacy and freedom).
I’m also really enjoying I, Millenial by Tom Ballard, which I’ve actually gotten as an audiobook (you too could hear these dulcet tones: it’s available through libro.fm!) I picked it up pretty much just expecting a quick fix of fun, disposable snark about boomers being embarrassing on facebook; but it’s turning out to be exactly the kind comprehensive Australian economics/politics/current affairs context-explainer I’ve always been looking for. (My irony-poisoned millennial mind can only comprehend these subjects if they’re explained by a comedian.)
To purchase the books online click here