Monday, October 22, 2018

Book Reviews October 2018

Mike Carlton is well known media personality and author in Australia. He is a few months older than I am and we have pretty much the same outlook on life as well as similar political leanings.
He is the son of a protestant mother and a catholic priest (yes really!) and was, at a very young age, a correspondent for our national broadcaster, the ABC, in Indonesia and twice in Vietnam during that war.
He moved onto commercial radio both in Sydney and eventually London and later wrote provocative columns for the local press until he fell foul of the Jewish lobby for his criticisms of Israel's policy in Palestine. He then quit and retired to write Australian naval history.

On Air is an autobiography which covers his parents romance and his early childhood, his overseas adventures, the trials and tribulations of being a famous media personality as well as many anecdotes on the various good and bad people in the public eye, both media and politics, we in Australia all know.
It is a witty and informative read but maybe really only one for those who know of him.
For me a 'couldn't put down' and read in three days.
The Long Paddock was a freebie on Amazon. The synopsis gave the impression it was a mostly about small Australian town country and life on the land.

In reality it was a long drawn out 'will they or won't they' romantic novel with a rural sub plot.
Chicklit I think they call it.
I finished it to its inevitable happy ending....but only just.
The Greenland shark lives in Arctic regional waters at great depths (1200-1500m) and can live for up to 500 years.
As an adaptation to living at depth, it has a high concentration of trimethylamine N-oxide in its tissues, which causes the meat to be toxic. This toxicity causes the consumer to appear drunk.
Shark Drunk is a translation from the Norwegian. The author and his artist friend Hugo Aasjord set out over a number of seasons in a small rubber IRB in the Lofoten Islands region of Norway to catch one.
But this book is more than a simple fishing trip saga.

The author sets out to understand the ocean from every possible angle, drawing on poetry, science, history, ecology and mythology.
It is also a history of Norway's northern region, its fishing industry and the lives of the people who populate the small isolated villages dotted along the spectacular coastline.
I really liked this book but be warned, it is extremely long.
Highly recommended.
The author of Love and Other U-Turns, Louisa Deasey is the daughter of Australian literary figure Denison Deasey (more about him in the last review). She has worked as a free lance magazine journalist, editor, copywriter and now author.
This book tells the story of her giving up a stable but unfulfilled city life, selling all her possessions, for adventure on the road, living out of a car, with an itinerant comedian, Jim, with whom she has fallen in love.
This book documents that journey.
Jim is well educated and comes from a good family but has decided that life on the road in country Australia is for him. His humor is very crude (so crude he is banned from most city venues) so he finds his audience in pubs and bars in country Australia mainly in the mining towns and the outback.
Paradoxically he is also a clown and performs for kids at country schools.
The couple travel the length and breadth of Australia sometimes driving many hundreds of km without a break.They stay at some of the most awful accommodation in some of the most confronting places in the country eg. Kalgoorlie, while meeting some of the strangest, roughest and fascinating characters who inhabit these places.
And all the time Louisa keeps in touch with her literary world eking out a living via her trusty lap top and not so trusty rural Australian internet connections.
Does she and the relationship survive? Read it to find out.
There was some eye opening stuff in this book, even for this Australian.
If you want to know about parts of the country that are not in the travel brochures this one is for you.
Denison Deasey died when Louisa was nearly seven. He was the father she never knew.
Her mother had little to say about him and her godmother (bizarrely her father's first wife) had lost contact.
He had been characterized by some as a failure or a dilettante, who squandered money and failed to finish anything he started. In love with life but unable to benefit from it in any conventionally constructive way.
A casually dismissive reference to him from his elite school says: ‘What Geelong Grammar–educated man drives taxis?’
But a Letter from Paris with a mysterious reference to a relationship her father had with a young French au pair in post war London encourages Louisa to find out more about him.

This book documents her journey of discovery, filling in the gaps of her father's life, loves, travels and achievements.
She spends hours in the nation's libraries searching through their badly organized archived files slowly piecing together a portrait of this man.
Then she literally follows in his footsteps travelling to France to meet people who were associated with her father and his work.
He turns out to be a great deal more than 'just a taxi driver'!
A really fascinating story, well written with passion that jumps out at you from the pages.
Please read this book!