Round-Up of April New Releases
Do you know that feeling when one of your colleagues turns out to be a bit of a dark horse? I well remember getting a copy of Best Australian Stories one year and finding that our very own Readings Monthly editor at the time, Jo Case, had a story in it. I had no idea then that she even wrote fiction. Then strike me down when, about a year ago, I discovered that she was writing a memoir. Was behind the scenes at Readings really so interesting, I asked myself? But of course no. It’s a far more personal piece – an account of her son, who, as he grows up, is seemingly ‘standing out’ at school, on the sports field, etc. The eventual diagnosis of Asperger’s puts Jo on a journey of insight, not just into her son, but into her own personality and family background as well. Needless to say, Readings is thrilled for Jo to have her first book-length publication with Boomer & Me. And it seems to me that it will be read with interest by many, particularly those who want to understand their offspring, and themselves, better.
Krissy Kneen has her own debut out this month – or at least her first non-erotic work. Our reviewer uses such words as ‘elemental’ and ‘corporeal’ to describe Steeplechase, naming it ‘a worthy and chilling addition to the Australian gothic tradition’. Coincidentally, in our April newsletter Krissy also treats us to an appreciation of the work of the great American writer James Salter, whose new novel, All That Is, is out this month. I agree with her entirely about his fine short stories (incidentally a Collected Stories will be released in June), and the wonderful memoir Burning the Days. The new novel seems to me to be a genuine literary event.
Another curiosity in April is the number of collections of letters. Perhaps most curious of all is the correspondence between Paul Auster and J. M. Coetzee, which offers a wonderful insight into the lives and opinions of these writers beyond their work and public personas. And Patrick Ness writes a novel for adults, The Crane Wife, which transforms an ancient Japanese folktale into something quite sublime. Finally, two excellent autobiographies: Welcome to Your New Life by Anna Goldsworthy, a sequel of sorts to Piano Lessons, and Helen Sage’s A Flower Between the Cracks, an extraordinary memoir of caring for her severely disabled daughter following a car accident. Sage’s book is already being likened in emotional impact to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.