Dylan Dartnell’s TBR list, part 2
You Belong Here, Laurie Steed
I have seen this little number advertised quite a few times in the last couple of weeks, but what sealed the deal for me was when it appeared on Amanda Curtin’s blog, Looking Up/Looking Down. The story follows the lives of a couple who meet at sixteen and marry at eighteen. Their three kids keep them together for a while, but soon their love turns to lies and the family legacy is shattered—or what I like to call Christmas. From what I understand, Steed, who has a resume of accolades, fellowships, and awards, appeared at this year’s Perth Writers Festival where copies of his You Belong Here sold out in an instant. Look out for the unravelled tape on the front cover if you want to join me in reading this one!
Monkey Grip, Helen Garner
As well as getting a hold of the hot, new flavours, I’ve made a commitment this year to read a ‘should have already read it’ novel in tandem. I’ve dabbled in the famous Australian author’s recent releases, True Stories and Stories, but am amped up now to explore Garner’s catalogue of ground-breaking work. However, I must admit, I stumbled upon this title at my local library purely by chance. But when I saw it, I knew I had to read it!
Bridge Burning and Other Hobbies, Kitty Flanagan
I have been a fan of Kitty Flanagan’s since her sessional appearances on Good News Week, which last aired in 2012 (can you believe that?!) and, of course, every year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I stole into Dymocks during a lunch break a couple of weeks ago and read the first couple of pages. From the get-go it is bursting with Flanagan’s charm and humour. Apparently there’s an anecdote about her time stuck in an industrial freezer right here in WA, which I’m sure we can all relate to, right?
The Dud Avocado, Elaine Dundy
The next two titles were recommended by two podcasts I have taken a liking to this year. I should mention at this point that I made a second commitment to listen to podcasts when I’m on the bus to avoid listening to “Bodak Yellow” one more time—okurrrr (seriously, is that not the most annoying sound of 2018?!)
The Dud Avocado was recommended by the guys from So Many Damn Books (fun fact: they create their own cocktail for each new guest). Dundy’s The Dud Avocado follows the romantic and comedic adventures of a young American who heads overseas to conquer Paris in the 1950s. Rachael Cook (2011) from The Guardian commends Dundy’s ability to write such authentic characters that “Gorce’s voice is so very real, there are moments when reading The Dud Avocado feels deliciously like eavesdropping.”
Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, Sean Penn
I know what you’re thinking, “this guy’s kidding, right?”
I wish I was.
But, this book was featured on another of my favourite podcasts this year, Bookworm; hosted by Michael Silverblatt from KCRW. His voice is the auditory-equivalent of the ageing process, yet, his passion is still enchanting. He introduced me to the Zapotec-speaking poet, Victor Teran, and his beautiful translation of “Like a New Sun.” So when I heard that Silverblatt was reviewing Penn’s debut novel, I thought I was about to experience something likened to a public hanging. I was in it for the long haul. But in actual fact, Silverblatt sang Penn’s praises. Yes, there were moments of the “transcendent apocalyptic satire” that were problematic, but overall it sounds like it’s at least worth the read and not to be fobbed off so quickly.