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Category Archives: Hobbies are for the dull.

Jem star rating:

I read this book in less than twelve hours – not showing off, its slim and pages are thick – but I couldn’t STOP. The prose was simple, unadorned and the perspective was fresh. It’s a series of vignettes from different points in the life of a twenty something Latina woman, raised in a posh New Jersey suburb.

Also what struck me was that this was the first time as an adult that I’ve read a book where the narrator was my age and had similar experiences to my own  – As she traveled back through her experiences, they roughly matched up with my own timeline. It was kind of like a warped looking-glass, so I couldn’t help devouring it.

Beautiful and understated, looking forward to reading it again – more slowly.


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Jem Star Rating: 2.5

I really, REALLY wanted this to be good, as I loved, LOVED The Liar’s Club.

But it kind of fell short for me. Started off pretty strong and then… ehhhh…

Maybe it’s because I haven’t read Cherry, the memoir between Lit and The Liar’s Club – but I felt like she skipped out on all the good stuff. Like, I get it, it’s about her becoming sober.But seriously, as a reader I don’t really care about her recovery path so much as I want to know the filthy details of what behaviours she needed to recover from. And you got bits of that…. just not nearly enough to make it worth it when the stories kind of peter out into Jesus talk 3/4 into the book.

To her credit, she did have a really great way of talking about her spirituality, and it didn’t make me roll my eyes as hard as I would were it someone else writing.

But also, despite her hard campaign of self-deprecation throughout the book,  there were a lot of times when I felt she was a spoiled betch that believed having an artistic talent excused selfish behavior/self-indulgence.

I think this was the exact opposite picture she was going out of her way to paint my her memoir. But I mean, seriously, anyone who writes THREE memoirs is kind of a shameless  navel-gazer by default (see: Augusten Burroughs. Direct quote: “Like cubic zirconia, I only look real. I’m an imposter. The fact is, I am not like other people.”  Kid, please.)


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Jem Star Rating:

I put off reading this forever because

  • 1) my brain is too small/lazy for non fiction and
  • 2)I know it was going to be terribly depressing, which it was.

The Tall Man is an account of the court case against a police officer following an Aborignal man’s death whilst in police custody in 2004.

As a Boston to Sydney transplant I am pretty much entirely ignorant of any of the details of  modern societal problems as they relate to Aboriginal people,  except to say that there seems to be a vaguely expressed sentiment that there certainly are some.

To be dead honest, the only time I cross paths with Aboriginal Australia is via street performers in Circular Quay, art galleries/museums, and the occasional intolerant comment about Aboriginal people and alcholoism /homelessness/ etc.

It just doesn’t come up all that often. And my feeling is that were I to raise it, I would find myself arguing with someone who would eventually say, “What do you know? You know nothing about this.” Which is, well,  true.

I mean, after five years of studying urban social problems and writing endless papers on concepts of race in college, I can BARELY speak about American racism with any sense of authority. So it seems kind of presumptuous to articulate my views within a culture I’ve only skimmed the surface of.

But, shit. Being ill-informed has never hindered my forming strong opinions before.

The main reason I think this book is incredible is the author’s storytelling –  she stays impressively detached as she lays out the events that make up the story. I had to keep checking the cover because I kept picturing the author as a middle-aged man. She breaks down the points of view of each group involved in the story, and you can’t help but see the validity in each sides’ claim of injustice. I think, as a human, you want very straightforward right and wrongs, but her writing is a tribute to the complexity of the issues.

Also, the details of life on Palm Island are pretty haunting. For someone curious about the day-to-day realities of life for Palm Island aboriginals, this painted a picture that was simultaneously grim and vivid.

I didn’t feel better after reading it, but I felt better for having read it, if that makes sense.


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