What We're Reading 

Hidden gems, hot favourites, slow burners and the odd guest columnist.

May 2016

 - Wednesday, April 27, 2016
JAMES: Patience by Daniel Clowes is part psychotropic time travel story and part introspective love story, blending the fantastic with the mundane. It’s still a Clowes graphic novel, his trademark melancholy seeps through the pages, but those pages are now bursting with vibrant colour. In many ways he doesn’t stray far from classic time travel tropes. The protagonist risks time and space, things inevitably go wrong etc etc. Fortunately the characters’ vulnerable moments are what make the book so touching. Clowes draws these beautiful yet forlorn exchanges between the unnamed protagonist and the people that he meets as he traces the upbringing of his wife Patience. It’s a poignant reflection on what makes us who we are, and I would sometimes stop to pore over the lush artwork or a silent moment. Clowes loves his characters’ flaws, and that’s partly why they’re so readable. His ‘warts and all’ creations fail just like the rest of us, and they give this time travelling story the grounding in reality that it needs.

ANDREW: I told a friend I was reading Sarah Ferguson’s The Killing Season Uncut and he covered his ears in mock horror, exclaiming ‘Haven’t we heard it all? Do we really have to keep going over it?’ I appreciate his position, and would possibly have felt the same, but after reading Niki Savva’s The Road to Ruin out of sheer schadenfreude and revelling in its gossipy fly-on-the-wall detail, I picked up the Ferguson on a whim only to find myself equally transfixed. Ostensibly they tell a similar story, but the differences are manifest. For one, quite a lot of the Savva is poorly written; it comes alive in episodes, incidents and details, but the bridging material is fairly dull. Ferguson, however, writes brilliantly. Savva is shockingly—joyously—biased, whereas Ferguson’s meticulous impartiality is similarly part of her book’s appeal. Finishing Savva, I felt I had finished a very necessary colonic irrigation, but reading The Killing Season Uncut was like watching Ferguson hold up a piece of crystal to the light, turning it slowly around, examining its myriad flaws.

JOHN: Peter Corris’ PI, Cliff Hardy, feels like a friend I have known for over thirty years, but have recently lost touchwith. So when I picked up with the latest book in the Hardy series, That Empty Feeling, it was very much like catching up with an old friend. The last few years have been kinder to Corris’ hero than this reader. Cliff has aged but is still up to his neck in intrigue when he becomes embroiled with some ‘colourful Sydney identities’ from his past. A pleasure to reconnect.