What we’re reading: Ariel Levy, M.R. Carey & Patrick Modiano

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films and TV shows we’re watching, and the music we’re listening to.


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Mike Shuttleworth is reading The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano (translated by Mark Polizzotti)

Paris is a place that many of us think about – and some of us think about it a lot. But nobody thinks about Paris with the total obsession of Patrick Modiano, the 2014 Nobel Prize winner for Literature.

I’ve just read The Black Notebook, one of about 20 Modiano novels available in English. Many of them share the same qualities: a search for the past, failed relationships, shadowy people whose true nature remains concealed. In this one, a writer, Jean, retraces his steps and his memories of a young woman he was involved in decades before, as well as specific hotels in Montparnasse, a street corner in the Latin Quarter and an abandoned apartment in the 9th arrondissement. What can be retrieved from the past? And what remains?

If you have a leaning to novels like Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair then Modiano is your man. His atmospheric, elusive and richly textured novels are also strangely moving. Meanwhile the streets of Paris are just a bookshelf away.


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Amy Vuleta is reading The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey has been one of our St Kilda shop’s bestselling titles for a long while now, possibly due to the number of staff who have written rave reviews, penned positive shelf-talkers, and enthusiastically hand-sold the book. I describe it as a literary zombie novel set in post-apocalyptic London – creepy, mysterious, and full of adventure, action, child-zombies and unlikely heroes.

The Boy on the Bridge picks up where the first book left off. From the first suspenseful pages of this book, I can tell it is going to be just as urgent, entertaining, compelling, pulpy, action-packed, and high-stakes apocalyptic as Carey’s first novel. If you’re looking for smart, literary popcorn to spend a cosy weekend in with, try this series.


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Chris Gordon is reading The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

Ariel Levy is known for writing about women that are strong and give the finger to the world. With her new work, Levy shares moments from her own life, providing insight into her relationships, her work and her family. One particularly haunting moment that stays with the reader is that of her late-term miscarriage in Mongolia. The Rules Do Not Apply is a barefaced roar, and it is also an account of Levy’s remorse and sorrow. I was profoundly moved by her ability to be so vulnerable on the page, and my admiration for this classy, powerful writer has increased ten-fold.


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Ellen Cregan is reading Swampland magazine

Quality Australian music journalism has been a seriously lacking area in recent years. For those of us whose nerd-hood encompasses the literary and music scenes, this has been frustrating. If you wanted to read long-form music journalism, you had to search far and wide in various publications for the right story, or just settle for reading about the familiar, big (and often male-dominated) acts.

Swampland is a brand new publication from some of Melbourne’s brightest young writers and editors that aims to solve this problem. For me, Swampland has meant I get to read in-depth and well written pieces about the bands that I love and actually go and see, and it this is such a treat. They’ve just launched their second issue, and it makes me hopeful for the future of long-form music journalism in Australia.


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Robbie Egan is reading The Wanderers by Meg Howrey

I have been reading Meg Howrey’s novel The Wanderers. This is a beautifully written story of human struggle, both personal and professional, told through the experiences of three astronauts and their immediate families. The astronauts – one American, one Russian, one Japanese – are offered the chance to go to Mars, and must endure an exhaustive simulation before the mission can proceed. Through multiple perspectives Howrey reveals the tensions, anxieties and pretensions of the over-achieving astronauts, their partners and children. The prose has a propulsive, hypnotic quality, building layers of character while exploring the difference between interior self and outward persona. As such it is a book about frailty, whether it be the life-and-death dictates of space travel, or the shifting accomodations of human love and interaction. Ambitous and utterly unique, The Wanderers is a wonderful work of art.

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The Rules Do Not Apply

The Rules Do Not Apply

Ariel Levy

$29.99Buy now

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