Books, Art, & Visual Culture

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Writing and design by Melissa Hill, graphic designer.

Posts tagged book review
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton

Some people like to say, “I don’t read fiction” in the same way that a certain type of person likes to say, “I don’t watch T.V.” Both of these statements are pretentious and supposed to imply that the person uttering them doesn’t have the time to waste on such unworthy pursuits. These mediums aren’t intellectual enough, they provide nothing of value.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to live inside the kind of brain that can’t see the value in reading fiction. And I guess that is kind of the point of this post.

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The Heart Goes Last
by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last is a seemingly lighter venture into our dark future – while there is nothing one can reasonably laugh at in The Handmaid’s Tale or Oryx and Crake, The Heart Goes Last is presented with a tongue firmly in Atwood’s cheek: the atrocities committed in this book feel too ludicrous to be a future we can reasonably expect to encounter.

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Late to the Party: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

If any part of me thought that Northern Lights was going to be a light, fun, magical read, then I guess that part of me must be disappointed. The rest of me however, was thoroughly engaged with the blend of plot-driven adventure, complex and unusual characters and weighty moral and philosophical questions that are encountered throughout this book.

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Atlantic Black by A. S. Patrić

A.S. Patrić’s Atlantic Black is as shadowy liquid as the its title suggests. I read this entire novel feeling as though I was floating through a strange dream, moving through water, a shifting, uncertain landscape. Death comes up often here, sometimes as surrender, sometimes as liberation, a spectre never lingering far from the action at hand.

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The Circle by David Eggers

The Island Will Sink is an intriguing glimpse into a future that I would be entirely unsurprised to see happen. Neglected high-rise wastelands litter the poor areas outside of the city, conserving resources has turned into a competitive social media activity, and one can outsource memories and emotional intelligence to an app… built into your brain, of course.

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The Island Will Sink by Briohny Doyle

The Island Will Sink is an intriguing glimpse into a future that I would be entirely unsurprised to see happen. Neglected high-rise wastelands litter the poor areas outside of the city, conserving resources has turned into a competitive social media activity, and one can outsource memories and emotional intelligence to an app… built into your brain, of course.

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Black Rock, White City by A.S. Patrić

Black Rock, White City is set in the very near past: it is the story of a couple who have escaped the horrors of the Bosnian war to make a new life in Melbourne, Australia. The tragedy they have suffered has unfortunately pushed them apart and so, instead of finding solace and support in each other to help manage the displacement and isolation they feel in their new lives, they struggle on, each in their own private bubble of loneliness and pain.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

After the fall of civilisation as we know it, an itinerant band of performers travels through an unpredictable and dangerous new world, bringing moments of joy to people’s lives through the unlikely medium of classical music and Shakespeare. It sounds like a rather humorous combination of themes, but Emily St. John Mandel takes this unusual premise and weaves from it a compelling and definitely un-funny book.

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The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

The Course of Love would be the perfect text book for a pre-marriage class. It uses the story of a couple’s relationship — from first meeting to first tryst to first child and beyond — to illustrate how our lives, particularly our childhoods, shape us. This shaping affects everything about us, but especially how we form relationships, what we expect from them and how we behave when we’re in them.

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Travels with Epicurus by Daniel Klein

In Travels with Epicurus, Daniel Klein asks whether, in our modern quest for success, we are skipping straight from a Peter-Pan style youth directly to old old age. He suggests that by doing this, we are denying ourselves important transitions through life stages. How can we accept our selves, the achievements of our lives, our human frailties and our mortality if we don’t allow ourselves the luxury of enjoying each age as we reach it? 

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The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

This series tackles some heavy topics, big questions about how our memories shape us, the value in experiencing pain and the worth of a peaceful society if no one is free to live a genuine human experience. This aspect of it reminded me of A Clockwork Orange — how much value can you place on ‘good behaviour’ that isn’t chosen through free will?

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