– Guantanamo, my journey by David Hicks –

This is an autobiographical book, written when David Hicks was 35 years old.  He was born in 1975, and grew up in Adelaide, Australia. After leaving school at 15 he began working on remote cattle stations. His experiences in the outback gave him the skills needed to take a job in Japan pre-training racehorses. He became friends with an Israeli adventurer who planted ideas of travel in his mind. Hicks decided he would ride a horse along the old Silk Road to China. But before he could start that adventure, while still in Japan, he began watching news items about Kosovo, where the Serbians were carrying out atrocities against the Moslem population. He became convinced that he must go and help the people of Kosovo. Hicks joined up with the Kosovo forces, who were supported by NATO, but before he got into actual combat, the war ended.   Back in Australia he applied to join the army, but was refused due to his limited education. About this time there was conflict in East Timor, Hicks felt ashamed that Australia was not defending the local population, once again he tried to join a group to defend the East Timorese, but the… Continue reading

– Born in a small town, died from success –

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious I have read a lot of lists of “best books” but so far I have not seen Peyton Place on any of them. Wait! Don’t hang up yet. There could be reasons that are not to do with the quality of the novel. Firstly, it was controversial for its day. When it was published in 1956, it sold 60,000 copies in the first ten days of its release (Wikipedia). It was the third biggest selling novel of 1956, considered a lurid shocker, dealing with incest, abortion, murder, and small-town hypocrisy. It has now sold over 12,000,000 copies. These associations meant it was not accepted by critics as serious literature, religious authorities were disgusted by the subject matter and their portrayal as hypocrites. Despite this it stayed on the best-seller lists for years, and sold millions of copies. But the novel’s unsavory reputation was far from finished. The following year it was released as a movie, not bad, quite acceptable for its time, but the story was reduced to events; the descriptive passages, the inner thoughts of the characters were not included. The movie presented itself as sexy shocker. In 1959 Grace Metalious published Return to… Continue reading

– A story of murder, with a part played by Edgar Allan Poe –

The Poet, Michael Connelly. Crime Fiction This is the story of a crime reporter Jack McEvoy, who is told his twin brother, an LA cop, has committed suicide: a bullet to the head while sitting in a parked car, the doors locked. On the inside of the foggy windscreen, written with a finger, is a quote from Edgar Allan Poe. His fellow police officers are convinced that it is suicide. His twin brother, Jack, doesn’t believe it. He begins his own investigation, and soon finds that there has been an extraordinary number of police suicides. As Jack follows up leads, acting the detective, he finds evidence that indicates a cop killer is behind the deaths. Usually there is a suicide note found with the body, the note is a quote from Edgar Allan Poe. The local police try to discourage Jack, they tell him to accept the facts, move on, since they are certain it was suicide and the case is closed. But as Jack McEvoy gathers evidence from different states, the FBI become involved when they discover there is a pattern to the suicide/ murders. Jack and the FBI are now on the trail of “The Poet” who is… Continue reading

– True history of the Kelly gang –

I have not always been a fan of Peter Carey’s novels. When I saw this book had won the 2001 Man Booker Prize I was not amused. And writing a novel about Ned Kelly seemed to be a cultural cliché. Done to death, you might say with a smile. Even Mick Jagger portrayed Ned Kelly in a movie back in the 60’s. But from the first paragraph of the novel, I was surprised and delighted at the innovative prose — written in the style of Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter. The first thing you notice is: no commas, then no quotation marks, very little punctuation, yet it reads smoothly, concisely, comprehensibly; all done with an Irish accent. Ned Kelly is probably the most well-known person to have lived in Australia; most people think of him as a folk hero, while others see him as a murdering bushranger. His story is simple enough. He was born in Victoria in 1855, his father an ex-convict, and both parents Irish. The Kelly family were in constant trouble with the police, particularly for horse and cattle stealing. They made enemies with the local police, who then took every opportunity to harass and arrest them, including… Continue reading