What Else We've Been Reading
If you've ever wanted to be inside of Patti Smith's mind, the strange and beautiful thing that it is, then this book may be the closest thing to that. Alternating between realist memoir and mysterious, impressionistic prose, The Year of the Monkey chronicles Smith's dreams and losses in 2016, her 70th year. Interspersed with her own photography and covering everything from her leaky flat to her dread about the current administration, this book feels like a long and intimate conversation with Patti Smith just after she's woken from a dream-filled sleep and that is something to be treasured.
Written with equal parts honesty and empathy, this is the story of three friends in their 70s who gather for a final weekend at the holiday home of a recently passed mutual friend. Each of the women are dealing with their own grievances - regret, disappointment, grief, loneliness - as well as navigating the dynamic of their group without their friend to steer the ship. Things get a little tense to say the least; secrets are revealed and loyalties are tested. It was so refreshing to read a book about women in their 70s without the stereotype and tokenism that often defines and limits characters of this age group in books. Wood can write female characters with such precision and humanity and these women are no exception. It's not an altogether uplifting book but there was something so affirming to be found in The Weekend.
We were a little surprised to discover that Heather Rose, Stella award winning writer of The Museum of Modern Love, had written a political thriller. Having now read it, we're surprised this is her first one. It's gripping and intelligent and so very very good! Both a page-turning thriller and literary family drama, the book begins when a nearly completed bridge between mainland Tasmania and Bruny Island is targeted by a bombing. What follows is a prescient satire on globalisation and environmental destruction woven into a mystery about a suspected terrorist attack with an affair thrown in to keep things saucy. Did we mention it was a page-turner?!