Jed Rubenfeld is a modern-day Renaissance man. A professor of law at Yale University who has also taught at Stanford and Duke, he is an expert on constitutional law, privacy and the First Amendment. He studied theatre and Shakespeare at Julliard and wrote a thesis on Sigmund Freud during his senior undergraduate year at Princeton. He is also the author of six books, two of which are novels. It seems as though there’s nothing he can’t do. If I didn’t admire him so much, I’d be horribly jealous. (Well, maybe I can do both at the same time.)
The Interpretation of Murder was his first novel. It’s a very intricate weaving of true events and characters with fictional events and characters. Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Sandor Ferenczi, Ernest Jones, Abraham Brill – all real life figures in the early 1900s movement of psychoanalysis, which was new, controversial and in competition with neurology – mingle with the fictional Elizabeth Riverford, Dr Stratham Younger, Nora Acton, George and Clara Banwell, Coroner Hugel and Detective Littlemore. There’s a miniature essay at the end of the book clearly outlining what’s real and what’s not and the artistic licence taken, which is a good thing because the blending of them is seamless. Continue reading
I don’t normally read fantasy fiction but with a terrific cast of characters and great writing, this is the kind of book that could change anyone’s mind.
Danil is a scavenger in the deadlands (barren for centuries after a widespread scorching event that ended the Great War) that separate the kingdoms of Roldaer and Amas. Danil and his fellow humans live in Roldaer under the rule of King Liam and his numerous magi, powerful sorcerers. Amas is the land of shapeshifters. Born into human form, they gradually discover their true form, basically their spirit animals, and then can transform at will and back again. Continue reading
On the front cover of Jennifer Government, the book by Max Barry, there is an endorsing quote from Naomi Klein. Now that I’ve read No Logo, I understand why. Because Jennifer Government is the future we can look forward to (with dismay) if the present that Naomi Klein has described so poignantly in No Logo continues on its path.
It’s more than fifteen years since this book was first published but I suspect very little has changed. I read the tenth anniversary edition with the added foreword discussing the marketing brilliance of the first Obama presidential campaign. It’s a collection of anecdotes about marketing, about how the ultimate goal of companies now is to produce nothing but a brand (all manufacturing is outsourced) and how there is very little they won’t do in order to achieve it – except, of course, the right thing. With little regard for human rights or the environment, they do only what is legal without any thought given to whether or not it is ethical. Sometimes they don’t even bother with making sure it’s legal. Continue reading
This book was so engrossing that I started reading it late one evening and then couldn’t stop. I finished it in one sitting as I kept thinking, “Just one more chapter,” and then not being able to stand not knowing what was going to happen next. By the time I was finished, six hours and 310 pages had gone by and so had most of the night, as well as any opportunity for sleep. Continue reading
I was in the middle of reading another book – a long, dense, important but mentally draining book – and decided to take a break and read Kill the Possum, knowing it would be a shorter read, something I could get through quickly. But if I was hoping for an easy read, I was sorely disappointed. This was a hard book to read. Not because of the writing but because of the story. This is every blended family teenager’s worst nightmare. Continue reading
This book was on the English reading list when I was in Year 12 but it wasn’t one of the texts my school selected for us. I’m almost glad because so many of the books we did read have gone on to become my least favourite – maybe it was the books themselves, maybe it was the way they were taught to us but I can’t deny the pattern.
The Wife of Martin Guerre could have been called “The Husbands of Betrande de Rols”. Based on a true story in sixteenth century France, Bertrande is married off at a very early age to the son of a well-to-do local peasant family. She’s too young to take on the duties of a wife so she returns to live with her own family. She’s fourteen when her mother dies and it is deemed an appropriate time to rejoin her husband and take up the role she has long been destined for. Continue reading
Published in 2000, The Blue Day Book might have been the early genesis of lolcats and funny goat videos. It is a collection of black-and-white animal photographs that have managed to capture a range of human emotions and Greive has arranged them and composed accompanying short sentences to evoke how we all feel this way sometimes, even those of us who aren’t human.
As the title suggests, the book is aimed at perking up anyone experiencing a “blue day”. For those experiencing a succession of them (and really struggling with depression and other mental health issues), it’s not going to be able to do much. But if it brings a smile to the general reader’s face, then it has done its job.
It’s hard to go past the zebras singing karaoke, if I have to pick a favourite image, although the bad hair day dog and the rhino blowing raspberries are a close second and third. Continue reading