From a book about Deaf identity, to a riveting compendium of cephalopod facts, to a memoir about a young man in the aftermath of trauma. Here’s what our Balmain bookshop staff are reading this month.
Sylvia is reading…
Pinks as far as the eye can see! Maybe it’s coincidence, maybe it’s some kind of primordial biological instinct the publishing industry is having, some ineffable but absolute pull, like that of a migrating stork to warmer climes: there’s just heaps of pink books around at the moment. The new release shelves are a delightful-delectable wildflower field. We’re wall-to-wall fuchsia and rose and coral and salmon and peach around here.
Picture me gambolling like a darling lamb through this meadow. My delicate velvety muzzle: I’ve got it in several different books at the moment. (An unusual feat of concentration for me! Many-booking is generally Bronwyn’s special talent.)
My book for bus reading has been Monarchs of the Sea, Danna Staaf’s hugely enjoyable history of cephalopods. I’ve been having a BALL learning squid facts. Staaf is such an engaging writer and fantastic science communicator that even though a deep dive into the evolution of swirly vs straight-shelled vs shell-less squid ancestors isn’t something I’ve ever had a hankering to unpack, I’m super happy for her to take me along for the ride.
I’ve only just started Fiona Murphy’s memoir The Shape of Sound and Patricia Lockwood’s novel No One is Talking About This, but am already very in love with both. Murphy’s exploration of Deaf identity is lyrical and so intensely interesting and illuminating. Lockwood’s focused descent (or ascension?) into the hellscape/wonderland of life on the internet is just as poetic and deranged as I expected from her memoir Priestdaddy (the funniest book I have ever read in my whole entire life).
I’ve also made a start on Madeleine Ryan’s novel A Room Called Earth, and I really appreciate that we find out within the first five pages that the cat on the cover is called Porkchop. My own cat Ernest has chosen to lie down on this book and fall asleep, so I’m not sure whether I’ll ever get to continue it.
Kate is reading…
A beautiful, funny gut-punch of a memoir
As the weather grows colder, it becomes more difficult for me to pick up a book. I mean this in the most literal sense. My heart has no pulsating love for my extremities, which by mid-autumn have become icy claws. It is, therefore, sometimes very difficult for me to untuck my hands from beneath my armpits, rump, thighs, sleeves for the simple task of turning a page. With Car Crash: A Memoir however, my hands could have dropped off mid-way and I would still be finding a way to read on.
Lech Blaine’s memoir, the debut of the young Queenslander about a fatal incident involving a group of high school boys, seems to destine him to the firmament of great Australian writers. Benjamin Law seems to think so – as does Tim Winton, Bri Lee and Trent Dalton. The account begins with a car crash that kills several of Blaine’s mates. Blaine, also in the vehicle at the time, walked away unscathed. Because Australian masculinity leaves no room for the extremity of trauma, navigating what comes after is for the teenager a bewildering and emotionally stultifying labyrinth of performative bravado, denial, loneliness and harm. Belying the heavy subject matter is Blaine’s frank and clear-eyed telling, full of humour and excoriating insight. It’s a big-hearted coming-of-age tale that makes you ache to read it, and an honest reckoning with our culture’s blind celebration of the “larrikin”.
Roaring Stories was lucky to have the man himself drop by the shop the other week. Dan, our store owner, was in at the time. He’d read the book twice already. As this picture below may suggest, he was proud as punch to meet the guy.