August Picks

De Goldi, Kate (2022) Eddy, Eddy. Allen & Unwin.

In the two years since Eddy Smallbone dramatically left school, and earthquakes destroyed his home city, he has struggled to navigate life and find himself. Eddy is a sweet lost soul. His pet-minding business has extended into friend and child sitting, and although his life is full of endearing, albeit flawed, friends and family, music, literature, and random animals, his underlying grief has left him floundering. This coming-of-age story will stretch you in many ways. Keep a glossary handy. Quirky, intense and moving.

Rating: 9/10

Knight, Sam (2022) The Premonitions Bureau: A True Story. Faber.

The Bureau was an experiment in 1960’s Britain to capture premonitions. In 1966, John Barker, a mental hospital psychiatrist with an interest in precognition, was prompted to set up the Premonitions Bureau in his search for seers who could predict the future. The 1966 Aberfan disaster, which a number of psychics had “seen”, was the catalyst for establishing the Bureau as a place where people could send their dreams and forebodings in an attempt to harness ESP to prevent death and calamity. This book is a strange inquiry into Barker’s adventures and popular science. As we try and make sense of chaos we are increasingly aware that not everything can be explained and are left with the abiding question can the human mind really see the future?

Rating: 8/10

Bohan, Elise (2022) Future Superhuman: Our Transhuman Lives in a Make-or-Break Century. NewSouth.

Bohan argues that we are either hurtling towards a superhuman future, or if we blunder, extinction. We are in humanity’s make-or-break-century and to secure our future we will need technology that will render us more than human, making us transhuman. She delves into taking charge of our own evolution, our unfitness as custodians of the future, the demise of women’s reproductive function, and embracing posthumanity before the doomsday clock strikes twelve. Bold and challenging big picture stuff.

Rating: 8.5/10

Garmus, Bonnie (2022) Lessons in Chemistry. Doubleday.

Elizabeth Zott is a scientist working in a male-dominated field in the early 1960s, where misogyny is meted out in spades by her colleagues. Since her undergraduate days Elizabeth has been subject to attacks on her qualifications, reputation and her person. She has been denied education, suffered sexual assault and had her work stolen, but she is a woman of uncompromising talent and fortitude. We follow her from her interlude with her soulmate, to motherhood, workplace rivalries and her stellar culinary TV career, but Elizabeth’s goal is always independence and professional recognition. A revenge comedy that tests credibility, but with a comeuppance resolution. A rather galling read however.

Rating: 7.5/10

Miranda, Megan (2022) The Last to Vanish. Scribner.

Although Abby has lived in the North Carolina town of Cutter’s Pass for a decade she has always been an outsider. She had found a home, however, at the Passage Inn where Appalachian Trail tourists stay. But the town, labeled “the most dangerous town in North Carolina”, and the Inn, have a notorious history relating to the mysterious disappearance of six hikers over the the past twenty-five years. When Trey West arrives seeking clues to the disappearance of his investigative journalist brother, deceptions are exposed putting Abby’s refuge in danger. How much does she really know know about her neighbours and colleagues? Atmospheric and suspenseful.

Rating: 8/10

Scrivenor, Hayley (2022) Dirt Town. Macmillan.

Durton, nicknamed Dirt Town, is the home of best friends Ronnie and Esther. One day Esther does not return home from school, five days later she is found in a shallow grave. As she investigates DS Sarah Michael exposes deep cracks in the remote regional Australian town. In a narrative told by multiple voices we delve beneath the surface of the victim’s hometown as the mystery of the twelve-year-old’s death is slowly revealed. A tale of place, childhood, family, friendship, and violence. An intelligent and compassionate debut. A new star in the pantheon of Australian crime fiction.

Rating: 8.5/10

Ferrante, Elena (2022) In the Margins: On the Pleasures of Reading and Writing. Europa Editions.

In these four essays Elena Ferrante reflects on her influences, her struggles to develop her literary voice, and her formation as both a reader and a writer. She sees her struggle as being between compliance – “staying diligently within the margins”, and unruliness – letting the “impetuous” truth spill out. I particularly identified with this assertion – maybe a truism for all would-be writers “Nothing I did could equal the books I liked, maybe because I was ignorant, maybe because I was inexperienced, maybe because I was a woman and therefore sentimental, maybe because I was stupid, maybe because I had no talent” (Aquamarine). Intriguing little gem.

Rating: 8/10

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