Weekend Round-Up #11

"The Age" this weekend concentrates its major reviews on the new Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go) and the new Murakami (Kafka on the Shore), both of which are certainly worthy. You would have to think that the Ishiguro, along with Saturday by McEwen, will be a highly favoured contender for this year's Booker Prize. In addition, there is the new collection of essays by Simon Schama ("informative and enjoyable"), and a biography of Machiavelli ("adds nothing new") by Michael White coupled with a new translation of The Prince ("it retains its lucidity and power to excite admiration, despite its unsettling message"). I used to have a copy of The Prince above my desk at work. Given the current corporate structure of the company in which I work I think I should put it back. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes.

On the Australian book front, "The Age" reviews Dirt Cheap: Life at the Wrong End of the Job Market by Elizabeth Wynhausen, and two children's picture books: Hooray for Horrible Harriet by Leigh Hobbs, and Hunwick's Egg by Mem Fox. Dirt Cheap is Wynhausen's account of a year working at the fag-end of labour queue. The writer spent a year away from working as a journalist for "The Australian" to work in the type of jobs most of us run from. The reviewer, Jeff Sparrow, approached the book with a large degree of scepticism as he saw the book merely as an Australian rip-off of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickle and Dimed. But he was finally won over by the writing's "powerful, impassioned prose", and concludes "it provides a badly needed window on to the aching and forgotten lives upon which our society rests".

Frances Atkinson is won over by both picture books but I have to wonder how many copies of these are going to be sold at $24.95 each. The price just seems rather high. I might buy them as presents though not as a standard reading book for my children. My son always wants something new to read. Trying to palm him off with something we read only a week or so before just isn't going to work. In the smaller notices, Cameron Woodhead finds The Mermaid Cafe by Andy Maconachie - a first novel - "a talented but immature debut". Eric Campbell's Absurdistan is described as "the most absorbing travel memoir" the reviewer had read in years. Campbell was a reporter for the ABC (the Australian version) when his cameraman, Paul Moran, was killed in Kurdistan in March 2003 on the third day of the war, and Campbell himself was badly injured. I've always liked Campbell as a reporter; he's incisive and is interested in the small picture as much as the larger one.

Others: Strange2Shapes: New Melbourne Writers which contains some writers of talent at the start of their careers, and Kijana by Jesse Martin, whose previous book chronciled his trip to be become the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world. This one concerns his attempts to manage a young, inexperienced crew in a trip of two years around the world. It didn't work out, and this book is the result. I can't say that I will seek it out.

In "The Weekend Australian", Stephen Matchett reviews Working with Monsters: How to Identify and Protect Yourself from the Workplace Psychopath by John Clarke. Now there's a book I could go for. I could display it prominantly next to my copy of The Prince: that might keep the bastards off my back.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 13, 2005 8:06 PM.

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