Sunday, January 06, 2008

Three books

from w
Since Christmas I've read three books: Amy Tan's Saving Fish from Drowning, Sia Figiel's They who do not grieve and Graeme Kinross-Smith's Long Afternoon of the World, all quite different.

Tan's is about a disparate group of American tourists who are kidnapped in Burma, told from a magical point of view - that of a ghost, very nicely written and detailed. But I was annoyed by the know-all ghost and the ending was very rushed. It took me a long time to read this book of 474 pages.

Figiel's is a feminist book about Samoan women, graphically told by a young Pacific writer, and life is not pleasant at all for the women, in fact quite horrible. It certainly subverts the idea of a happy paradise on a South Pacific island. I met Sia one time at a writers' program in Suva.

The Geelong writer's book, written in the first person, present-tense, examines memory and is built up of short poetic-like descriptions and mini-stories. It is a portrait of a middle-aged Ausralian man. The sense of place always there, whether it is the Mallee, Melbourne, or near Port Campbell. To a large extent it is autobiographical I'm sure. This is a book that can be dipped into for the beautifully written fragments.

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