Cold Jackal Moment – Sami Nayal

bullets-1556108__340This collection of poetry describes the despair, grief and lack of hope that Nayal experienced as a child during the civil war in Lebanon. Translated from Arabic, these poems are powerfully evocative of the effects of war on children. A reviewer writes on the back of this collection that they convey an almost nihilistic   attitude that is probably the result of traumatic experience. On reading these poems, I felt a sadness; the essence of someone had been destroyed and stamped on. Here is a poem from the collection:

Punishment

After their death
a shadow
would separate from the crowd
and stand opposite to the wall…

There are poems about insomnia and I guess these are his experiences as an adult. These are also sad and have an air of nihilism – they seem to convey emptiness.

Powerful and will leave you feeling powerless.

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The Adventure of the Colonial Boy – Narrelle M Harris

This is the first fanfic that I’ve read. Harris does a great job emulating Doyle’s 9780993513626.inddwriting style in his Sherlockian stories. It is a good mystery that’s also written as a big adventure. This micro-publisher focusses on Sherlock and Holmes romance. The romance  is lovely but I felt there was too much emphasis on the physical nature of the relationship. This detracted from the erotic nature of the first encounters. I enjoyed reading about early Melbourne – Park Street which I regularly walk down and Bourke Street (now the location of a large mall). I’ve not visited Ararat, just passed through it on the train on the way to Adelaide. It is a fair distance from Melbourne so the long horseback journey is not fanciful (just a side note – it takes 12 hours by train to get to Melbourne to Adelaide). All in all, this was an enjoyable romp and if you like adventure stories with romance, this could be an enjoyable read for you.

What Ho! The Best of Wodehouse – P.G. Wodehouse

10184915I haven’t read much of Wodehouse at all, and this isn’t the book to start with. This is for aficionados who are well-versed in the various characters of Wodehouse creation. And tellingly, this collection is built on recommendations from various Wodehouse Societies the world over. I am familiar with Jeeves and Wooster, and Uncle Fred. But not so much with Psmith. At the end of the selection of stories are some autobiographical writings about his time in Hollywood. I found this less entertaining. My favourite story was the misappropriation of Pekingese. The whole song and dance about the so-called missing Pekingese had me laughing aloud. Oh dear oh deary me!! So, I think what I will do is start with the Jeeves and Wooster stories – I did so want to read more of them. In fact, this has been a sort of taster for me. So, what ho! Onward and upward!

No Place to Lay One’s Head – Francoise Frenkel

A heartrending account of the hardships and misery of being a women of Jewish 34805076ancestry in France during the Nazi occupation. Frenkel writes beautifully and speaks directly to the reader, telling of her stress, anxiety and hardships. Not just of her own but of the many others caught in the same trap, endlessly trying to find a way to avoid deportation to the death camps. Moving from place to place, from one location to another, an endless beating of the moth against the light. Frenkel was in her 50s during the occupation so she had less energy at her disposal than many younger people. Yet she had determination whereas many younger women were completely undone when their children were forcibly taken from them to be placed in orphanages. Frenkel was married but doesn’t mention her husband, who was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and killed there. There is an undercurrent of grief that is palpable. It is unlikely she knew his fate at the time of writing but I bet she had strong suspicions. I was spellbound by this account and very saddened. But also heartened by the many kindnesses that were shown to her.

Australia never took any Jewish refugees from Europe – I think there was an outright refusal (this is to be verified). Just as today, the Australian government refuses outright to take on its fair share of the worlds displaced and stateless people. Reading this account made me sad and I feel even sadder for those stuck on Manus and Nauru than I did before.

Maeve’s Times – Maeve Binchy

21276030Oh I love Maeve Binchy! Her writing is just gorgeous, so frank and friendly. Many people have said that reading Maeve is like sitting down to a nice cuppa with a friend and having a chat. I really enjoyed this collection of journalism. There are some pieces that made me laugh out loud, especially that piece about cooking with veal! Tee hee!! I also chortled at the piece about Portillo. His series Great British Railway Journeys is showing in Melbourne at the moment and I am really enjoying watching it. He does mention his political career sometimes so that is how I know who he is. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had the faintest. I was a young teen in the mid 80s and I remember Thatcherism and the miners strike. I also remember the wedding of Charles and Di. It was a big deal for us at the time – my little sister and I were allowed to stay up late to watch the event which was shown live in Australia. This collection evoked so many memories for me. Just lovely.

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