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#Corona Break

  1. Time to do what must be done to stay safe.
  2. I am in ‘self-solitude’ for the next 3-4 weeks.
  3. I have enough books, Netflix,
  4. …Irish Whisky/wine and chocolate Easter Eggs.
  5. …and get my groceries online and delivered to my door.
  6. Mork (cat) has has volunteered to be my isolation partner
  7. but has warned me that he sleeps 18 hours a day
  8. ….puuuurfect….nice and quiet!
  9. Stay safe and
  10. #StayTheF**kHome

#ReadIreland 2020 Station Island (67 poems)

  • Author: Seamus Heaney
  • Title: Station Island
  • Published: 1984
  • Dedicated to:  Irish playwright Brian Friel
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #ReadingIrelandMonth20
  • #Begorrathon20



  1. Station Island is an intensebook of 67 poems
  2. …each one worth you reading time.
  3. The poems left me breathless.
  4. It took me 2 days to read 123 pages!!
  5. Reading Seamus Heaney’s poetry is only
  6. known by experience…rather than reason.
  7. Favorite poem: Station Island nr XII
  8. Seamus meets his last guide on the pilgrimage
  9. …James. Joyce.
  10. Joyce’s advice is timeless
  11. …not only meant for Heaney…but for us all:
  12. “Let go, let fly. forget.
    You’ve listened long enough.
    Now strike your note.”
  13. Joyce urges the complete opposite of the
  14. collective Catholic pilgrimage (Station Island)
  15. …but favors individualism!
  16. In other words
  17. ….shed your Catholic orthodoxy and reveal a new self.
  18. #ChapeauAuBas
  19. ….Seamus Heaney!
  20. #MustRead

#Classic Animal Farm

Finished: 26.02.2020
Genre: allegory (140 pg)
Rating: A+++


  1. Timeless classic
  2. …..every one should read it
  3. …soon to be a Netflix film.
  4. After 50.308 reviews on Goodreads about this book…
  5. …there isn’t much more to tell!
  6. The story, published in 1945, is an allegory for
  7. Stalinist Russia in which animals rebel against the
  8. humans who own their farm and adopt
  9. the rule of equality for all.
  10. By the end of the story, a group
  11. of pigs has begun ruling the animals.
  12. Animal Farm is considered a work of social satire
  13. because Orwell employs irony to criticize
  14. the individuals/groups depicted in the novel.
  15. This story demands that readers think.
  16. Presenting the novel as a beast fable
  17. …contributes greatly to its brilliance.
  18. Lessons learned:
    1. Power corrupts
    2. Revolutions tend to come full circle and devour their peoples
    3. Even good, descent people are vulnerable
    ….to power hunger and leader worship.


  1. All animals are equal, but some animals are MORE equal than others.” (ch 10)
  2. This statement is ironic because the concept of
  3. all are equal and “more equal” is really contradictory
  4. and does not make sense.


  1. The 7 commandments are changed…
  2. Each commandment is changed and the animals
  3. THINK they remember it the way it was before
  4. ….but are not sure.
  5. Irony: the READER KNOWS the pigs are taking over the farm
  6. …instituting a totalitarian regime
  7. ….but the animals don’t.


  1. The sad irony that a well-intentioned
  2. …”revolution” intended to bring about equality
  3. and a better life for the animals ends
  4. by recreating the same inequalities and
  5. …tyranny that provoked it in the first place.

#Classic The Crucible



Finished: 24.02.2020
Genre: play
Rating: C-


  1. Abigail is the teenager who sparks a reign of unholy terror
  2. among the upstanding citizens of Salem, Mass.
  3. with her accusations of witchcraft.
  4. This is a love triangle and battle of wills:
  5. Elizabeth – John Proctor – Abigail.
  6. Everybody loses….everybody suffers
  7. except Abigail who flees the village in Act 3!
  8. This is my 3rd A. Miller play
  9. …but the one I least enjoyed.
  10. If there is something missing in this
  11. more forgettable unforgettable classic play is the
  12. feeling of mass hysteria.
  13. It just does not jump off the page.
  14. A stage production will surely resolve this problem!
  15. #DeathOfASalesman (review)
  16. …..much better reading experience!

#Poetry Winner Costa Award for Poetry 2020

  • Author: Mary Jean Chan (1990)
  • Title:  Flèche ( 50 poems 88 pg)
  • Genre: poems
  • Published: 2019
  • Trivia: 2019  winner Costa Book Award for Best collection Poetry
  • Trivia: 2020 longlist for Dylan Thomas Prize
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan




  1. I have been OUT of the poetry reading mode for many months.
  2. I feel very lucky that I discovered
  3. Flèche by Ms Chan to bring me back to poetry.
  4. This book gave me 88 pages of reflection
  5. …without the extra  300 pages
  6. I would have had to read if I had chosen a novel!
  7. Here are 50 love poems
  8. …for her family, mother and partner.


  1. A poem should work for you
  2. …if not, you don’t need this poem.
  3. It’s not your fault. It’s not you at all. It’s fine.
  4. Scrap it, ignore it and turn the page.
  5. Poetry gets to the heart of things.
  6. There must  be one poem that will stop your heart.
  7. Ms Chan’s poems  are a compact form
  8. in which the drama of a life is staged.
  9. The mother-daughter tense relationship is central.
  10. The love poem that stopped MY heart was
  11. “Always’



Do you ever write about me?
Mother, what do you think?
You are always where I begin.

Always the child who wanted to be
a boy so you could be spared
by your mother-in-law.

Always the ear that hears you
translating my poems
with a bilingual dictionary.

Always the pen dreaming
it could redeem the years
you fled from, those
Red-Guarded days
and nightmare

Always the mind’s eye tracing
your frantic footsteps
toward the grandfather
I would never meet.

Always the lips wishing
they could kiss those mouths
you would approve of.


  1. Multilingualism
  2. Queerness
  3. Post-colonialism
  4. Psychoanalysis
  5. Cultural history


  1. This was very clever….Ms Chan uses  terms found in the sport of fencing.
  2. It give the reader an indication what the poems will be about.
  3. Parry – defense – “push” aside a blade that is attacking
  4. Riposte – counter attack
  5. Corps-À-Corps – impasse – 2 fencers are engaged…neither can use her weapon
  6. Each section contains 16 poems.
  7. There are 2 introductory poems  – her mother is the narrator
  8. Title:  Flèche is an aggressive offensive
  9. fencing technique used with foil and épée.
  10. It also is homophone
  11. …when pronounced, seems similar to another word.
  12. In this case flesh found in the poem “Flèche”.


Last thoughts:

  1. Strong point: poems are short, one-page-ers
  2. …but don’t confuse length and density.
  3. Ms Chan conveys her ideas in a few words.
  4. “..I long for a landslide of the mind
    …so I can bury the moment”
  5. So much nuance…in just a line.
  6. I’ve read and reviewed at least 20 poetry collections (see blog)
  7. …and this book gets my HIGHEST  score!
  8. 50 poems….and I really liked 38
  9. …that’s 76%
  10. I haven’t read the other long listed books for
  11. the Dylan Thomas Award 2020…but this book
  12. …will be hard to beat!
  13. #Bravo
  14. Chapeau au bas…..Ms. Chan


#AWW2020 Amy Witting

  • Author: Amy Witting (1918-2001)
  • Title:  Marriages ( 6 stories, 139 pg)
  • Review:  Bottle of Tears
  • Short review: The Surviviors and Goodbye, Ady, Goodbye, Joe
  • Genre: short stories
  • Published: 1990
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly plan
  • #AWW2020
  • @AusWomenWriters


Bottle of Tears:

  1. Trivia: Bottle of Tears was first published 1958
  2. in the Southerly Journal (editor Kenneth Slessor)
  3. Trivia: Amy Witting is the pseudonym for Joan Levick.


What does the title mean?   Bottle of Tears

  1. You number my wanderings;
  2. put my tears into Your bottle… Psalm 56:8
  3. This is an allusion to a very ancient custom
  4. among the Greeks and Romans, of putting the tears
  5. which were shed for the death of any person into small phials
  6. …and offering them on the tomb of the deceased.
  7. This was another method people used in
  8. the past to remember, in this case to remember griefs.
  9. Rita recently had seen a dying man in hospital
  10. …..and could not forget his plight.
  11. “If I put my tears in a bottle and
  12. sent it to him it would be nothing,
  13. …a bottle of salt water
  14. …..what else is pity anyhow?”


Story was very cryptic.

  1. A few sentences between Rita and Matt could be interpreted
  2. in many ways but depending on the reader’s choice
  3. …the story could take  on another meaning!
  4. Here is the section that is the turning point:


  1. Rita: “I’ve changed my mind.
  2. You don’t have to change yours on that account.”
  3. “..feeling tired all at once, thinking
  4. …it would be a relief if the blow fell now.
  5. Matt: “You really mean it?”


  1. “Matt’s voice was full of reverence (awe, love)
  2. …not for her
  3. …nor for love but for good luck.”
  4. The story completely baffles me and the ending…
  5. well, I still wonder why Rita compares herself with
  6. “Gulliver tied down with threads.”


  1. But after reading it 3 x…
  2. my impression is that Rita refused
  3. …to accept a proposal of marriage
  4. …and now she calls him to say:
  5. “I’ve changed my mind.”
  6. The comparison with Gulliver that she feels ‘weighed down’ by the
  7. idea of marriage. That could be her first fear…as Rita says
  8. “…his happiness weighed her down with responsibility…
  9. ….as if  he had given her something fragile to carry.”



  1. I haven’t been so impressed by a writer since I
  2. discovered Thea Astley.
  3. Amy Witting ..she can nuance in a line
  4. that might take a lesser writer one page!
  5. Thea Astley and Amy Witting  were very good friends.
  6. Ms Astley even dedicated her book
  7. The Acolyte to Ms Witting.


Books by Thea Astley  (1925-2004)



  1. Bottle of Tears  is  a ‘classic’ short story.
  2. — the form is intensely compressed
  3. — there is more left unsaid…than is said
  4. — ergo the 3 x reading necessary to form my thoughts!
  5. — it occurs over a period of no more than 24 hours
  6. Rita is a dynamic character
  7. she learns and changes and realizes
  8. …what life would be without Matt.
  9. Matt is a static character
  10. …he was in love with Rita….and still is!


The Surviviors  (very ‘long’ short story)

  1. This is a comical and amusing look at….
  2. a young couple embarking on
  3. “…an accident waiting to happen” marriage:
  4. Kevin must marry Gloria…in a shot-gun-wedding.
  5. “A man would have done better to go to jail”.
  6. Marriage …”Twenty minutes, life imprisonment”
  7. Marriage: “….the past on her  face and
  8. …the future in her great belly.”


Goodbye, Ady, Goodbye Joe

  1. Just by looking at this title
  2. ….you wonder what is going to happen to this old married couple.
  3. Flood waters are rising and Amy Withing is a master
  4. …creating tension right up until the last page.
  5. First published in The New Yorker October 29 1965
  6. Some quick notes:
  7. Love in the “golden years” 
  8. …Joe’s thoughts about being old and romantic:
  9. “…Since then the lion had grown old and died
  10. …become a disregarded old lion skin warm to the body in cold weather…”

#AWW2020 Aurealis 2018 Award Best SF Novella




  1. Well, fly me to the moon..
  2. if you are like me I seldom read SF. It just does not entertain me.
  3. But I am trying to read deeply and widely,
  4. so I decided to ‘test the waters’ with a short 114 pg novella.
  5. Now, I did the research for you (see review)
  6. …so you can dive right into this book.
  7. Just think….at the next book club meeting when they ask t
  8. o suggest a ‘something completely different…
  9. you can suggest ICEFALL by Stephanie Gunn!
  10. The club will be determined NOT to read it
  11. ….you could probably crack rocks on their jaws!
  12. But…at least try to guide them into the world of SF!
  13. Millions of people read nothing else!
  14. Stephenie Gunn was a research scientist turned full time writer.
  15. I’m curious how she will combine her
  16. …scientific backround with her fiction
  17. Will Ms Gunn write what she knows
  18. ….or what she feels?



  1. I do not read very much SF
  2. …so looked at some terms I found in the text…and what they mean.
  3. This made the book MUCH easier to process.
  4. VIR POD – spaceship ‘Wanda R’ (named for Wanda Rutkiewicz,
  5. first woman to climb K2, second highest mountain on old Earth)
  6. VIR – virutal interfaced reality
  7. VIR implants – one can experience both worlds (virtual and real) at the same time
  8. AI hologram3D image formed by split laser beam.
  9. Ms Gunn describes a AI holographic character as
  10. genderless, expressionless, fingers bloodless
  11. …can dematerialize and form again in i.e. the navigator’s chair (ch 15)
  12. …can flow around me (Aisha) to envelope me completely in its field (ch1)
  13. AI (artifcial intelligence)
  14. I did not know if this was a human replication or just a voice!
  15. Replicant androids are indistinguishable from human beings
  16. …remember the film: Blade Runner… how was human and who was AI?
  17. In this book AI comes with a package of standard visages:
  18. male, female or null gender.
  19. AI uses the visage and name of Mallory
  20. …in reference to G. Mallory
  21. the first person to summit Mt Everest.



  1. Icefall is a similar planet to old Earth.
  2. MacGregor Corporation has established two colonies on Icefall.
  3. Icefall organizes a Icefall Climbing Competition once every 7 years.
  4. Essential in the plot is a ‘weeping mountain’.
  5. All of the pointed masses of ice  and snow in a glacier melt.
  6. Millions of mega litres of water wash over the
  7. continent destroying everything in its path.
  8. The waters lie still for one ICEFALL  day (25 hrs).
  9. The next day waters retreat…moving against gravity.
  10. The mountain draws everything back towards it
  11. …the glaciers, the icefall and continental ice all reform.
  12. This was the SPOOKIEST thing in the entire book!


  1. Planet Demeter home of narrator Aisha Ashkani
  2. Planet Icefall
  3. Greyspace – folded space beneath normal space that surrounds planet Icefall
  4. Many references to “old Earth”


Structure:  26 chapters,  114 pages

  1. Ch 1-5-11 present (arriving via VIR POD to planet Icefall
  2. Ch  2-3-4-6-7-8-9-10-13  backstory
  3. Ch 14-26  present (perilous journey in Icefall Climbing Competition)


Main Characters:

  1. Mallory (AI) – projects its holographic interface around narrator Aisha.
  2. Aisha:  former priestess of ONE Order of the New Earth
  3. Maggie (Margaret Malleore) mountain climber – Maggie and narrator are married
  4. Gorak – bot (robot) raven like bird that will be narrator’s ‘eyes’ on the Mountain.



  1. Aisha Ashkani (priestess) is from Sherpa heritage.
  2. Sherpa believe the mountain is
  3. …their goddess and one should not
  4. trespass on the sacred ground.
  5. Ironically…Aisha becomes fascinated
  6. with mountaint climbing and leaves the temple
  7. …to reach the snowy summit.



  1. This SF novella is about Mountain climbing in space…in the future.
  2. Humans have left old Earth and have colonised the universe.
  3. There is also  a very touching love story in this book
  4. …that brings the SF and the human elements in balance.
  5. You will have to read the book (reading time?  2 hrs)
  6. to discover the tender bond between Aisha Ashkani and Maggie.
  7. #GreatRead


Last thoughts:

  1. I’ve read some great books by Australian women writers.
  2. …who were included on long- and shortlist of
  3. …The Aurealis Award.
  4. Do have a look at these reviews and longlist….
  5. …perhaps you will find something you like!


  1. The Grief Hole – K. Warren    
  2. Aletheia – J.S. Breukelaar
  3. Closing Down – Sally Abbott
  4. Psynode – M.J. Ward
  5. Girl Reporter – T. Roberts
  6. From the Wreck – J. Rawson
  7. Catching Teller Crow – A. and E. Kwaymullina
  8. The Endsister – P. Russon
  9. The Tide of Stone – Kaaron Warren
  10. Who’s Afraid – M. Lewis


21 February 2019

The finalists are:

Best science fiction novel

  1. Scales of Empire (Kylie Chan)
  2. Obsidio (Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff)
  3. Lifel1k3 (Jay Kristoff)
  4. Dyschronia (Jennifer Mills)
  5. A Superior Spectre (Angela Meyer)
  6. The Second Cure (Margaret Morgan)

Best fantasy novel

  1. Devouring Dark (Alan Baxter)
  2. Lady Helen and the Dark Days Deceit (Alison Goodman)
  3. City of Lies (Sam Hawke)
  4. Lightning Tracks (Alethea Kinsela)
  5. The Witch Who Courted Death (Maria Lewis)
  6. We Ride the Storm (Devin Madson)

Best horror novel

  1. The Bus on Thursday (Shirley Barrett)
  2. Years of the Wolf (Craig Cormick)
  3. Tide of Stone (Kaaron Warren)

Best graphic novel/illustrated work

  1. Deathship Jenny (Rob O’Connor)
  2. Cicada (Shaun Tan)
  3. Tales from The Inner City (Shaun Tan)

Best children’s fiction

  1. The Relic of the Blue Dragon (Rebecca Lim)
  2. The Slightly Alarming Tales of the Whispering Wars (Jaclyn Moriarty)
  3. The Endsister (Penni Russon)
  4. Secret Guardians (Lian Tanner)
  5. Ting Ting the Ghosthunter (Gabrielle Wang)
  6. Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt (Rhiannon Williams)

Best young adult novel

  1. Small Spaces (Sarah Epstein)
  2. Lifel1k3 (Jay Kristoff)
  3. Catching Teller Crow (Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina)
  4. His Name was Walter (Emily Rodda)
  5. A Curse of Ash and Embers (Jo Spurrier)
  6. Impostors (Scott Westerfeld)


Best collection

  1. Not Quite the End of the World Just Yet (Peter M Ball,)
  2. Phantom Limbs (Margo Lanagan)
  3. Tales from The Inner City (Shaun Tan)
  4. Exploring Dark Short Fiction #2: A Primer to Kaaron Warren (Kaaron Warren)

Best anthology

  1. Sword and Sonnet (Aiden Doyle, Rachael K Jones & E Catherine Tobler)
  2. Aurum (Russell B Farr)
  3. Mother of Invention (Rivqa Rafael & Tansy Rayner Roberts)
  4. Infinity’s End (Jonathan Strahan)
  5. The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year (Jonathan Strahan)

Best science fiction novella

  1. I Almost Went To The Library Last Night’ (Joanne Anderton)
  2. The Starling Requiem (Jodi Cleghorn)
  3. Icefall (Stephanie Gunn)
  4. ‘Pinion’ (Stephanie Gunn)
  5. ‘Singles’ Day’ (Samantha Murray)
  6. Static Ruin (Corey J White)

Best science fiction short story

  1. ‘The Sixes, The Wisdom and the Wasp’ (E J Delaney)
  2. ‘The Fallen’ (Pamela Jeffs)
  3. ‘On the Consequences of Clinically-Inhibited Maturation in the Common Sydney Octopus’ (S. Petrie & E. Harvey)
  4. ‘A Fair Wind off Baracoa’ (Robert Porteous)
  5. ‘The Astronaut’ (Jen White)

Best fantasy novella

  1. ‘This Side of the Wall’ (Michael Gardner)
  2. ‘Beautiful’ (Juliet Marillier)
  3. ‘The Staff in the Stone’ (Garth Nix)
  4. Merry Happy Valkyrie (Tansy Rayner Roberts)
  5. ‘The Dressmaker and the Colonel’s Coat’ (David Versace)
  6. The Dragon’s Child (Janeen Webb)

Best fantasy short story

  1. ‘Crying Demon’ (Alan Baxter)
  2. ‘Army Men’ (Juliet Marillier)
  3. ‘The Further Shore’ (J Ashley Smith)
  4. ‘Child of the Emptyness’ (Amanda J Spedding)
  5. ‘A Moment’s Peace’ (Dave Versace)
  6. ‘Heartwood, Sapwood, Spring’ (Suzanne J Willis)

Best horror novella

  1. Andromeda Ascends’ (Matthew R Davis)
  2. ‘Kopura Rising’ (David Kuraria)
  3. ‘The Black Sea’ (Chris Mason)
  4. Triquetra (Kirstyn McDermott)
  5. ‘With This Needle I Thee Thread’ (Angela Rega)
  6. Crisis Apparition (Kaaron Warren)

Best horror short story

  1. ‘The Offering’ (Michael Gardner)
  2. ‘Slither’ (Jason Nahrung)
  3. ‘By Kindle Light’ (Jessica Nelson-Tyers)
  4. ‘Hit and Rot’ (Jessica Nelson-Tyers)
  5. ‘Sub-Urban’ (Alfie Simpson)
  6. ‘The Further Shore’ (J Ashley Smith)

Best young adult short story

  1. A Robot Like Me’ (Lee Cope, Mother of Invention)
  2. ‘The Moon Collector’ (D K Mok)
  3. ‘The Sea-Maker of Darmid Bay’ (Shauna O’Meara)
  4. ‘Eight-Step Koan’ (Anya Ow)
  5. ‘For Weirdless Days and Weary Nights’ (Deborah Sheldon)





#AWW2020 Fiona McFarlane



  1. Fiona McFarlane is the winner of  £30,000 Dylan Thomas Prize 2017.
  2. The prize is open to writers in the English language aged 39 and under.
  3. NOTE: Longlist for Dylan Thomas Prize 2020 will be announced
  4. at the Jaipur Literature Festival  @JaipurLitFest
  5. 24 Jan 2020   0800 GMT (0900 CET) 1900 Sydney Australia



  1. Here are a few more stories  I tried to summarize.
  2. Short stories are a joy to read….
  3. …but a chore to review!
  4. I’m always searching for the right template for a
  5. short story collection blogpost.
  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
  7. Everyone will have their own favorites stories
  8. …but mine are:
  9. Mycenae (Janet….I loved her!)
  10. Man and Bird ( …shortest story in collection…but packs a punch!)
  11. Violet, Violet (enchanting, had to laugh out-loud!)
  12. The High Places (reveals the meaning of the title!)
  13. #MustRead  Fiona McFarlane



Exotic Animal Medicine

  1. POV:  3rd-person narrative focused on one character Sarah.
  2. Plot: Sarah: animal veterinarian who specializes in exotic animal medicine.
  3. On her wedding day the newly-weds are involved in a car crash
  4. on their way to her surgery job…an accident on a dark country road.
  5. My Question:  Sarah cares for victim of car accident
  6. ..but had Sarah had too much to drink?
  7. Conflict: Sarah’s inner struggle accident, no witnesses, old man dies.
  8. Theme: Burden of guilt is heavy….hard feeling to handle. What should I do?
  9. Ending: is satisfying but not a neatly tied up conclusion.


First reading:

I read the story too quickly. I formed an ‘ending’ in my thoughts before I even  finished the story. I was taking the easy way out and assumed this would be a cut and dry story about the burden of guilt. I missed the essential role played by  the cat Queen of Sheba!

Second reading:

I knew this story had more to offer than meets the eye. It won a very prestigious literary prize in 2009 at th school where McFarlane was studying: University of Texas in Austin. Also having read an article by Joe Morgan in The Guardian about reflection and quiet absorption…the art of slow reading. I decided to take it slowly.

The story took on a whole new dimension.

….the parallel between the cat Sheba and Mr. Ronald!  It felt that Sarah the main character had a telepathic connection with the cat in the surgery.

Mr. Ronald….dying in the car moaned as did the cat in its cage many miles away.

This gave the story a ‘spooky’ feeling.




  1. POV: First Person Janet tells the story and interacts in the story as well.
  2. Plot: 2 couples (60+) (college friends) on a reunion holiday in Greece
  3. Characters: Janet – Murray (live in AUS)  Amy – Eric (live in USA)
  4. Theme: marriage
  5. Timeline: 1 week
  6. Clever play on words: Cornwall is south westernmost point of England
    It is where the couples as young students spent a holiday.
    Relationships were tested.
    “Marriage is like that, isn’t it, …It reaches a point.”
  7. Strong point: Feeling of pathos
    I can relate to Janet because I understand what it feels like to have a girlfriend
    who runs the show, steals the spotlight with no care of what others may feel!


Art Appreciation:

  1. POV: Third Person narrator is in a “god-like” position
    in which he can see into the minds of the characters.
  2. Plot:  Henry is a gambling man. He likes to weigh his odds and options
  3. He likes a little profit…a little loss.
  4. But what happens when he discovers  love does not work this way!
  5. Characters: Henry (28 yr) – Ellie (fiancé)  Kath (mistress)
  6. Theme: marriage; loneliness
  7. Timeline: 1,5 year
  8. Strong point: Character development (Henry)
    Henry utilizes the emotions of others to his own ends.
    Machiavellian…he is motivated out of pure, calculating self-interest.


Man and Bird:

  1. POV: 3rd person
  2. Plot: fall of a local preacher when he doubts his faith
  3. Characters: preacher and white parrot
  4. Theme: faith
  5. Timeline: unspecified in story
  6. Strong point: symbol of a parrot seen as a messenger from God
    …but the preacher feels he is “mindlessly mimicking” God’s message
    …as a parrot mimics speech!
  7. Strong point: McFarlane ‘bookends’ her story.
    The imagery that introduced the story…ends the story.
    This gives the reader a feeling that loose ends are tis up
    …. of coming full circle.
  8. NOTE: story contains no dialogue an is shortest story in the collection


Unnecessary Gifts

  1. POV: First Person Philip (father)  tells the story and interacts in the story as well
  2. Plot:
  3. Grandparents provide Phil and Glenda state-of-the are devices….see
  4. Title:  “Unnecessary Gifts” to  attach to James and Greg to track their movements.
  5. …to keep their grandchildren safe. But the parents did not keep up the surveillance.
  6. Boys disappear from neighbourhood….where are they?
  7. Characters:
  8. Philip – Glenda – Greg – James ( father/mother/sons)
  9. Tony (playmate of James and Greg)
  10. Tony’s brother (security guard in store at the mall)
  11. Theme:  parenting
  12. ….grandparents are savvy of dangers that their own children do not see!
  13. Timeline: 1 day (…with flashbacks to provide background family info)
  14. Strong point: tension…mention of police report,
  15. security tapes and Tony’s brother’s statement on
  16. …2nd page is foreshadowing that something is going to go wrong!
  17. Weak point:  the aforementioned ‘tension …where did it go?
  18. The story fizzles out completely! Deflates like a cold soufflé!
  19. I’m very disappointed with this selection…it had so much potential.
  20. It feels like Mcfalrlane’s heart and concentration are not really in
  21. this story: “she phoned it in.”


Those Americans Falling From the Sky

  1. POV: First Person Jeanie tells the story and interacts in the story as well
  2. Plot: pastoral description of life @home for Jeanie en Nora
  3. ….and the impact of US airmen in the town of Merrigool.
  4. But the story enters around 8 dead airmen whose
  5. plane crashed behind their farm and one missing parachutist.
  6. Their souls began to cause trouble in the area.
  7. Characters:
  8. Edith (60+) neighbor
  9. Nora – Jeanie (sisters)
  10. Maggie (mother) – Frank (stepfather of sisters)
  11. Theme: nostalgia
  12. Weak point: the story felt a bit pointless
  13. Memories of life on a farm during WW II in Australia
  14. …nothing else.
  15. “Their souls began to cause trouble in the area”
  16. …sounded like an excellent opportunity to write some great
  17. …subplots but McFarlane did not flesh this out.

#AWW2020 sign-up post read: 5/40


  1. Goal: READ 40  books
  2. Start: 19 January 2020
  3. End challenge:  31 December 2020


READ:   5/40

  1. Death of Noah Glass – Gail Jones
  2. I, Clodia and Other Portraits – A. Jackson*
  3. King of the Air: The turbulent life of Charles Kingsford Smith – Ann Blainey*
  4. Prima Facie – Suzie Miller (play)
  5. Lenny’s Book of Everything – Karen Foxlee (YA) shortlist PM award 2019*
  6. The Body Horror Book – C. Fitzpatrick   2017 Aus Shadows Award NF/Criticism*
  7. Icefall – S. Gunn –  2018 Aurealis Award Best SF novella*  READ
  8. Remembered Presences – Alison Croggon*
  9. Stop Being Reasonable – Eleanor Gordon-Smith*
  10. The World Was Whole – Fiona Wright
  11. Wild Sea: history of the southern ocean – J. McCann READ  
  12. Finding Eliza – L. Behrendt
  13. Accidental Feminists – J. Caro*
  14. The Dead Still Cry Out  – H. Lewis 2018 (Waverly Library) NIB*
  15. Honor – Joanna Murray-Smith  (play)
  16. The Man on the Headland – Kylie Tennant
  17. The Timeless Land – E. Dark*
  18. Say No To Death – D. Cusack*
  19. The Rest is Weight (short stories) – Jennifer Mills
  20. Heat and Light (short stories) – Ellen van Neerven
  21. Pulse Points (short stories) – Jennifer Down
  22. The Circle and the Equator (short stories) – Kyra Giogri
  23. Marriages – (6 short stories) – Amy Witting   READ
  24. A Baker’s Dozen (short stories) Dorothy Hewett*
  25. Fragments – Antigone Kefala – 2017 winner Queensland Poetry Collection
  26. Interval – Judith Bishop (2018) poetry
  27. Rainforest – Eileen Chong  poetry
  28. The Berry Man – Patricia Cornelius (play)*
  29. The Call – Patricia Cornelius  (play)*
  30. Stories From the Warm Zone –  (short stories) Jessica Anderson*
  31. Highway of Lost Hearts – Mary Anne Butler #AWW2020 (play)*
  32. Transparency – (play) – Suzie Miller  READ
  33. Jump For Jordan – D. Abela   2013 Griffin Award (play)*
  34. Danger Music – E. Ayres Shortlist People’s Choice QLD Award 2018*
  35. Her Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir – Nadia Wheatly
  36. Imperfect – Lee Kofman 
  37. The Yield – Tara June Winch
  38. The Torrents – O. Gray (play)*
  39. Kill the Messenger – Nakkaih Lui (play)*
  40. The High Places – Fiona McFarlane  (13 short stories)  READ

#NonFiction The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606



  1. This book is about what Shakespeare (WS) wrote in and
  2. around 1606 and what was taking place at that time.
  3. It is a slice of a writer’s life.
  4. WS’s emotional life in 1606 is lost to us.
  5. But by looking at what he wrote in dialogue in these times (King Lear (1605),
  6. Anthony and Cleopatra (1606), Macbeth (1605)
  7. …we can begin to recover what he was thinking about.


What did I learn?

  1. Shakespeare’s defining feature was his
  2. overhauling of plots old plays then inventing his own.
  3. Ch 1-7 were the most interesting  (50% of the book)
  4. giving me new insights about “King Lear”.
  5. The play turns on King Lear’s
  6. ill-fated decision to divide his kingdoms.
  7. Does the king go mad b/c foolishly divided his kingdoms or
  8. b/c of his ruinous relationship with his daughters?


What did 1606 mean for Shakespeare?

  1. The description of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up
  2. the House of Lords was evidence
  3. ..that resentments were bubbling up.
  4. Shakespeare and other playwrights recognized
  5. that something had changed in their world.



  1. Shakespeare struggled to find his footing in the early years of the 1605-1607.
  2. No year’s output would be more extraordinary than that of 1606.
  3. He finished this year—King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra.
  4. They form a trilogy of sorts that
  5. collectively reflect their fraught cultural moment.
  6. An outburst of The Plague in July 1606
  7. ..had a clear impact on WS and his plays.
  8. In Macbeth the ringing of church bells
  9. for the dead and dying is most striking:
  10. “The dead man’s knell / Is there scarce asked for who;
  11. and good men’s lives expire before the flowers in their caps…” (Act 4, scene 3)


Last thoughts:

  1. I wanted to know more about Shakespeare’s plays
  2. and had to do some serious ‘cherry-picking’ to extract
  3. what I was looking for.
  4. 75% is history and only 25% is really about the plays by Shakespeare.
  5. Too much history….not enough Shakespeare!
  6. #InformativeButDisappointing