Showing posts from April, 2013

Book review: The Childhood of Jesus by JM Coetzee

The Childhood of Jesus is a beautifully written book as you would expect from an author who has won the Nobel Prize for Literature and two Booker Prizes. But did even JM Coetzee reach his limit in his daring attempt to write a book with such a searching title? Maybe, but then we have the age-old philosophical question, can the created express without limit the qualities of the Limitless? But to the book... Is this a retelling of the hidden years of Jesus' childhood? Is the title more metaphor, allegory or descriptive? Are we learning about childhood, family, refugee, society, community or the psychosocial complexity of the individual? Are we seeing the plainness of a world without the divine spark or the goodness of a simple life? To be honest, it is all and none of these and I'm not entirely sure if there is a single motivation or intention from the author. And perhaps that's the beauty of a great writer, they do not need to tell, but keep that secret to themselves.

Children's book Bakir and Bi shares the colour and joy of Thursday Island

A mother of six children who has loved writing since she was 15 and an illustrator who worked on children's book Bakir and Bi while completing her final year of high school are just the start of what make this book fascinating. Bakir and Bi , published by Magabala Books based in Broome, is connected to a Torres Strait Islander creation story. Having written 'the odd poem or two, left unfinished stories and manuscripts lying around the house, posted up inspirational quotes in her home and written songs for the Church she attended regularly' Jillian Boyd, 41, got the idea for the book while attending a State Library of Queensland (SLQ) writing workshop. While there, she saw a drawing 'by the late Uncle Ephraim Bani from a story about Amipuru - a picture of a giant pelican carrying a man across the ocean. She recognised the picture from her childhood, bringing back fond memories of school days on the island. Inspired by this picture, and unfamiliar with the o

Worldreader Mobile places free books on thousands of developing-world phones

While visiting a remote village in the central mountainous region of Bali that could only be reached by foot and hair-raising motorbike ride, the presence of two things surprised me. In a place where there was no running water, sewerage, electricity or proper roads, we visited a substantial Christian church built of concrete and tiles on the side of a mountain. And among the baskets of chillies and other crops being prepared for market, young people were fiddling with their mobile phones. This picture - of the phone use at least - is repeated across the developing world where cheaper, basic phones such as per-paid Samsungs, Nokias and Blackberries are prolific and now a new book reading app has been developed to bring free books to these millions of 'feature phones'. Worldreader Mobile, operating on the  biNu platform, has just moved out of the beta phase and already 10 per cent of biNu's 5 million users have accessed the app - about 107,000 in India, 60,800 in Nig

Book review: Fascinating Times by Mal Fletcher

The idea of fascinating times, as author and social commentator Mal Fletcher explains, can inspire thoughts of exciting possibilities or simply exhaustion. The supposed Chinese curse goes, 'May you live in fascinating times'. Maybe this is an indication that as much as we tell ourselves we are up for an adventure, really we just want to be left alone doing what we've always done. Judging by the subject matter of Fletcher's new book, Fascinating Times , sitting quietly is hardly likely to be an option, at least not all of the time. His collection of essays and commentary from recent years is like an omnibus of the major forces sweeping across our lives and generations, whether we like it or not. And given our propensity at times to want to ignore things we don't like, don't understand or simply don't agree with, we can be thankful that Fletcher has done the hard yards of pulling these topics together and providing thoughtful, reasoned commentary. At

Mailbooks For Good available at Gleebooks benefiting The Footpath Library

An Australian ad company, BMF ,  has developed an innovative book mailing product that will hopefully lead to many more good quality books being donated to reading programs for disadvantaged people. Mailbooks for Good is like an 'inbuilt' book mailing envelope that is part of the cover of the book and which can be folded out to encase the book with address and postage included to a chosen book charity or program. Mailbooks for Good is being trialled now with five Random House titles available from Gleebooks in Sydney with the beneficiary being The Footpath Library . The current Mailbooks for Good titles, selected in cooperation with Random House, are Crack Hardy by Stephen Dando-Collins, Wanting by Richard Flanagan, And Now for Some Light Relief by Peter Fitzsimons, The Fix by Nick Earls and Bureau of Mysteries by HJ Harper. The idea is that customers see a book they like in a bookstore and realise that not only can they read it, but can easily send it on to

Book review: Wool by Hugh Howey

Many new readers of Woo l are turning pages, rather than flicking screens, as the self-published science fiction dystopia finds a mass market in book stores alongside author Hugh Howey's Amazon success. If you follow Howey on Amazon you are probably well and truly into the Wool prequels, First Shift , Second Shift and Third Shift and waiting for the release of Dust. Meanwhile traditional readers are buying up the Wool omnibus (books one to five) and waiting for the Shift omnibus (books six to eight) . Which says a lot about the diversity of modern publishing and, I think, Howey's penchant for boring titles. But with a breakthrough best-seller on his hands even before traditional publishers got involved in the paper version, more power to him! [ Click cover to buy from Booktopia ] If you have managed to continue reading through my compulsive need to tidy up the state of play regarding Wool , let's get down to the story. In a classic dystopian setting, the worl