Showing posts from December, 2013

Book review: Christmas in Canberra by Nicole Taylor

A story about Louise, a twenty-something public servant, and her personal and family dramas leading up to Christmas 1988. Genre? A mixture of coming-of-age, pre-romance, contemporary fiction, women's fiction, labelled by some as chick lit which I wouldn't normally read. Lots of allusions to the Canberra of the time; notorious establishments such as the Private Bin and the Boot and Flogger, trips to the races or the Hall B&S (bachelors and spinsters) ball, lots of name dropping. Louise rents a flat underneath someone's house in Aranda and is left to water the garden while the landlord goes to Broulee on the coast—that rings true, as do the descriptions of swooping magpies, Duntroon graduates, the Canberra Yacht Club, the Canberra Cannons basketball team (sadly, now defunct), pub crawls, and backstabbing and machinations in the public service where Louise works. There is an excess of discussion about clothes and shoes—it was the eighties, a fashion-free zone as I reca

Book review: The Water Dreamers by Michael Cathcart

For all Australians, a great non-fiction book about our attitude to water, starting with polluting the Tank Stream at Sydney Cove to destruction and moving on to our overuse of the Murray Darling Basin. A very readable book about the rivers, lakes and inland seas that we don't have, the effort that went into looking for them, and the wet-country mindsets and attitudes of the white explorers. It was interesting to read about Griffith Taylor, geographer, who was essentially run out of the country for insisting that the inland was dry and nothing could be done about it — this was regarded as unpatriotic back in the nineteen twenties, and probably still is. He offended Western Australians by creating a map with a large piece of their state marked as 'Useless'. Echoes of John Wesley Powell, who is also reputed to have said, on seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona, 'Impressive, but useless', and who, similarly, warned against irrigation in the American arid West.