The Girl Booker

The Girl Booker

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I have a friend who constantly uses the word "amazeballs" on facebook, and it's been floating around in my head for a while now. I always think that made-up descriptive words make the object under discussion sound even better; like it's so good that an already existing word isn't enough to do justice to how fantastic it is. Please bear this in mind when I say that How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran is AMAZEBAAAAALLLLLS!!!!!

It's so awesome to read a book on an important topic that is superbly funny while simultaneously taking the topic seriously. I think pretty much everyone would love this book, apart from people who really don't want to read an entire chapter on vaginas. If you're a fence-sitter on this issue then trust me: Moran will convince you it's worthwhile. I can reluctantly imagine a couple of grandparental types, church ministers or 8 year old boys who may find it a bit much.

I am so excited about this book that I just want to rant and rave about it. I have been trying to write this post for 3 days now and I have reached the conclusion that I find it impossible to talk excitedly enough about How To Be A Woman without the use of hand gestures. It is a Wagnerian, Beethovanian symphony of a book. It is AMAZEBALLS!!! Read it!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Pimply Youth With A Carving Knife

The Cook by Wayne Macauley is told in the first person narrative voice of a teenage boy. I found the writing style a little off-putting for the first page or two but quickly came to be charmed by it. It reads very smoothly but I suspect that each sentence took some time to get just right.

It follows Zac through his time at Cook School (a program for wayward teens designed to teach them cheffing skills and then get them decent work), and then to his first job as a cook. It was another read-in-a-day book for me; Macauley makes small moments compelling. The device of his naive narrator sheds new light on old ideas and keeps the reader keen.

There is a twist that I did not see coming at all; I actually threw the book down and had to stop reading for a bit. I didn't want to touch the book until I had calmed down. It was quite disturbing, and got under my skin for several days. Four and a quarter lamb carcasses out of five.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Streets Are So Wide...

A treasure, a delight, a gem; Kerryn Goldsworthy's Adelaide is one of the most moving, interesting, personal and beautiful books I think I have ever read.

Several months ago, I discovered that New South Books were bringing out a series of books about Australia's capital cities and since that time I have been watching and waiting for the Adelaide volume. Although I have lived in Sydney for close to a decade, I was born and bred in Adelaide's wide, grid-patterned streets, and have spent long hours debating where "home" is, and what Adelaide is to me if it is no longer home.

Adelaide is about the history of the city, but it is also about how the residents and past residents feel about the city. While I adored every single sentence of the volume, I suspect the depth of one's association with the city would exactly replicated one's depth of enjoyment of the book. It is excellently written; full of beautiful phrases and quirky facts and I am sure anyone would love to read it but I do concede the personal, passionate attachment to it that I have felt would probably only be experienced by those with a connection to Adelaide itself.

Goldsworthy quotes Paul Kelly's song Adelaide a couple of times in the book, and this song has always said so much to me of my own push-pull experiences with the place:

The streets are so wide,
Everybody's inside,
Sitting in the same chairs
They were sitting in last year.
This is my town

Reading this book made me fall in love with Adelaide again, and want to forgive all the quirks and annoyances that I have held like petty grudges against the city of my birth. Chapter 6 reminded me so viscerally of the sights and smells of childhood Summers and my greatly missed grandparents that I cried. It almost(!) made me want to move back there.