What we’re reading
Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on or the music we’re loving.
I decided to start this novel years after making it a victim of tsundoku (the act of leaving a book unread after buying it). What a gut-twisting masterpiece this is. Well, half of it is, anyway. I’ll explain…
I was terrified to turn the page but desperate to know what was going to happen. I went on Twitter to ask complete strangers whether they thought I would live to regret seeing it through to the end. And then about halfway in I hit a happy scene – the father and son, having been through so much in this terrifying post-apocalyptic world, find a bunker and eat tinned peaches until their starving bellies bloat. It was both a much-needed moment of relief and gave me the feeling that things were about to get much, much worse for them. Reader, I stopped there.
Demons is the first Wayne Macauley novel I’ve ever read, and I can now say I’m officially a Macauley fan! Demons is highly readable, but don’t let that fool you – it covers a lot of interesting territory. The structure of the novel feels a little like a stage play so it may not to be every reader’s taste, but I really enjoyed it. Once you settle in to the storytelling style, the narrative moves briskly and carries you with it.
Macauley really shines in his use of dialogue and his dark humour. I also love the Australianness of the novel: he captures our cities, outback, country and coast all so effortlessly in his prose.
Dani is reading The Long Earth series by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
When I was a kid visiting Adventure Playgrounds, I always entered thinking, ‘This place is built for me and in it I can be anything and anything can happen.’ Reading Terry Pratchett’s and Stephen Baxter’s The Long Earth series brings back those exact feelings. The premise of the story is someone has leaked on the Internet the schematics to build a small box that allows you to take a step into a parallel earth, an Earth almost exactly the same as ours (Datum Earth) but with no sign of humans – humans only exist on Datum Earth. From this Earth you can either step back to our Earth or take another step into another Earth, which, again, is almost exactly the same as the Earth you’re on now. This goes on forever, each Earth differing even more with each step taken.
So the question becomes – what would happen to the human race if we were suddenly given access to infinite natural resources and land? The only limitation being we can’t take metals from one Earth to another. The majority generally deal with it quite happily – with the exception of a few religious extremists – while predictably, governments immediately attempt to impose restrictions, and later high taxes, on the pioneers who move on to other Earths. In one scene, some young Aboriginal men in the Northern Territory realise they just need to take a step and they can belong to their land again.
The series follows too many people to talk about here (Keats quoting nuns aside) but the world(s) are so well thought out, so beautifully and clearly described, it almost feels like a character in its own right. Reading The Long Earth series feels like you’re in an incredible rainforest full of never-before-seen trees and creatures, somehow far back in the past and way into the future at the same time. It’s like you’re back at the Adventure Playground again, wanting to be everything and everywhere at once.
Bronte has just bought a copy of White Girls by Hilton Als
Last year I read David Foster Wallace for the first time and started the long, extremely enjoyable task of working my way through classic essay collections I’d never read before. After finishing A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster, I moved on to Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing. Earlier this year I was completely absorbed by Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams. These are books I read slowly, a few essays at a time, and they’re also the ones I talk about with everyone.
Next on my list is White Girls by Hilton Als, which I bought this week. Junot Díaz called it his ‘read of the year’ when it was released and so I have high expectations …