A David Update
A quick update on progress at 49 Glebe Point Road: we are now firmly on track to move back into our renovated premises in late February. So you can expect a bells-and-whistles shout from us about a grandish sort of reopening in early February, fingers and toes crossed (equipment/labour/council sign off, etc). And yes, to answer again some FAQs: the events space will be great, and fully accessible (lift), there will be a cafe/bar upstairs as well, and we’re up for as flexible a number of uses as is practical (music? performance? yoga? book clubs?). Stay in touch, and let us know. I’ve been reading … Charlotte Wood’s Stone Yard Devotional is an intriguing, deeply thoughtful and moving novel. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, it traces the retreat of an unnamed narrator from society, from marriage and a socially engaged life to a nunnery on the Monaro tablelands. This is a serious, exploratory, meditative work, about empathy, about forgiveness, and about the perennial search for meaning.
Ann Patchett’s Tom Lake. I’ve gone in and out of love with Patchett novels over the years. Bel Canto and Dutch House have stayed with me, others not. Tom Lake seems the perfect vehicle for Patchett’s “Covid” novel: three grown daughters marooned with parents on the family cherry farm, where their mother helps pass the time as they pick the crop, by retelling the story of her “fairytale” summer at Tom Lake theatre when she was a young actor in love with her costar. It’s soothing, compassionate, wise storytelling and enlightening on motherdaughter relationships, but I was left wanting more.
Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song. It’s a big call, but I don’t know when I last read a novel as unrelentingly bleak and harrowing as this. Which is a feat in itself, I’m sure. But this story of a Dublin woman’s attempts to hold her family of four children together after her unionist husband is “disappeared’’ in an imagined fascist Ireland descending into civil war is very hard to read. Having said that, it is superbly paced, grippingly and convincingly imagined, and for me, it was indeed unputdownable. It’s a serious book tackling an immensely serious subject, and it’s shortlisted for the Booker, and I commend it, but it’s a very discomforting read. David Marr’s Killing for Country is a rare and valuable thing: it’s a personal history of the Frontier Wars that is as timely as it is important. Marr has brought a searing forensic intelligence and inescapable moral compass to bear on the history of dispossession of land from the original inhabitants of this country. To this he’s added the history of the role of the native police, and the role of his forebears. Crimes, bodies, trials, rorts, cover-ups are all there in great detail, and needing to be read.