The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule

The Stranger Beside Me, True Crime by Ann Rule Ann Rule began volunteer work at the suicide Crisis Centre after her brother committed suicide. She felt guilt over his death and wanted to do something to help suicidal people. She answered the phone at night and into the early hours of the morning. There were only two people on the night shift, herself and a polite, friendly, empathetic young man who talked people out of suicide. His name was Ted Bundy, probably the worst serial killer in American history. As they worked through the nights, side by side, they became firm friends, despite the fact that Ann Rule was 10 years older, had four children, and was married. Ted was a student at the University of Washington, a psychology major, and an honour student. During quiet nights, they shared aspects of their lives as friends do. No one saw Ted Bundy as a threat, as a killer. What they saw was a charming, intelligent, helpful, friendly young man, universally called “good looking”. In 1971 Ann was a single mother of four, aged 35 years, struggling with a divorce and a sick husband. She had briefly been a police officer, but… Continue reading

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelo

BOOK, I know why the caged bird sings

                Book review, Marcus Clark This is an autobiographical account of a young black girl growing up in the American South during the 1930s and 40s. Maya lived with her grandmother for some years. During this time the grandmother owned a grocery shop for blacks. Not only ran it, but made it profitable even during the depression. They were not rich by white standards, but were close to it by black standards. During the depression the grandmother lent money to a white dentist, which allowed him to keep his practice. But ten years later he refused to treat Maya, saying, “. . . I’d rather stick my hand in a dog’s mouth than in a nigger’s.” Maya, who relates the events in a style like a novel, was highly intelligent, reading classics before she was ten years old. When she transferred to a school in San Francisco she jumped a whole academic year. She frequently uses descriptive expressions: “He was choosing words the way people hunt for shells.” Her story is one of hardship, poverty, violence. Maya was sexually abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend when eight years old. When the abuse… Continue reading

A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch, book review

A severed head book cover

This novel, published in 1961, is largely about relationships between English academics in London. There is a mix of people, an American psychotherapist, a wealthy wine producer, Martin, who relates the story, his artistic brother, a London School of Economics lecturer, and the mysterious Honor Klein, half German and not to be trifled with. Before long we find the characters in a turmoil of adultery, deception, and infidelity, which gets messier with every page. A Severed Head, is interesting and worthwhile to read. Don’t be dissuaded by the title: the severed head in question is a metaphor, not real. The novel is basically about confused adultery between the seven characters, none of whom are truthful to anyone, least of all themselves. The protagonist, Martin, years into his affair with a much younger LSE lecturer, is shocked and disgusted to discover his wife has been having an affair with her psychiatrist for months. Martin does not even confess his affair after his wife tells him about her affair. He hides it, to make sure she feels guilt, and this allows him to hold onto hope that she might not leave him, which after all could be inconvenient. He doesn’t seem to… Continue reading

Best Australian books

A_Fortunate_Life

 A FORTUNATE LIFE,  A.B. Facey A Fortunate Life is an autobiography by Albert Facey, published in 1981, nine months before his death. It chronicles his early life in Western Australia, his experiences as a private during the Gallipoli campaign of World War I, and his return to civilian life after the war. It also documents his extraordinary life of hardship, loss, friendship and love. During the initial days of its publication, Albert Facey became a nationwide celebrity. Despite his renowned life, Facey considered his life to be simple and “had no idea what all the fuss was about”. When asked on an interview, where the name of the book originated. He replied, “I called it ‘A Fortunate Life’ because I truly believe that is what I had”. After its great reception it has become a classic piece of Australian literature and is one of Australia’s most beloved books. Since its publication in 1981 it has become a primary account of the Australian experience during World War I. Buy paperback from Penguin books ISBN-13: 978-0140081671   GALLIPOLI,  Alan Moorehead When Turkey unexpectedly sided with Germany in World War I, Winston Churchill, as Sea Lord for the British, conceived a plan: smash… Continue reading