Zora Simic





‘Piano Lessons’ by Anna Goldsworthy

Black Inc., 224 pp; $27.95


‘Outliers: The Story of Success’ by Malcolm Gladwell

Perhaps by virtue of his own accomplishments, Malcolm Gladwell – author of bestsellers The Tipping Point and Blink, writer for the New Yorker, and well-paid speaker and guru – has a vested interest in …


‘Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All’ by Christina Thompson

Growing up in land-locked Boston, Christina Thompson knew "almost nothing of the islands or the sea", but a steady diet of Victorian literature imbued her with a "feeling for the colonies". In her twenties, she moved to Melbourne to study Pacific literature. …


‘The Story of Forgetting’ by Stefan Merrill Block

Abel is a hunchbacked recluse pushing 70. Basic tasks and a bottomless mourning for his lost family mark his days. A real-estate boom makes him a rich man, but the new neighbours want him out. He switches his horse for a car, but such minor concessions …


‘The Sleepers Almanac No. 4’ edited by Zoe Dattner & Louise Swinn

Melbourne-based Sleepers Publishing has been steadily creating a well-deserved buzz around its annual collection of short fiction. Almanac No. 4 is packed with fine writing, and roomy enough to accommodate the intermittent failed experiment without losing …


‘How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read’ by Pierre Bayard

According to Pierre Bayard, a professor of literature at the University of Paris, you do not have to read books to be able to speak about them with confidence - even when standing at the lectern. What allows this subterfuge to continue is mutual complicity. …


‘No One Belongs Here More Than You’ by Miranda July

Lonely people suit short stories. Uneventful lives punctuated with occasional incident are easily delineated, revealing poignancy and even humour. In the hands of virtuosos such as Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore, the fortunes of the marginal or merely ordinary …


‘Tuvalu’ by Andrew O’Connor

A young man named Noah goes to Japan and ekes out a threadbare existence teaching English in cubicles to pay for his room in a rambling hostel overflowing with cats and cast-off people. He has a companionable relationship with another Australian, Tilly …


‘The Ballad of Desmond Kale’ by Roger McDonald

In colonial New South Wales – where the convicts outnumber the jailers, the natives outnumber the convicts, and the sheep outnumber the lot – a whispered ballad, a “banded tale”, thrives to the status of legend. The Ballad of Desmond Kale is thus: …

’Lunar Park’ by Bret Easton Ellis

In his latest novel Bret Easton Ellis introduces a narrator, also called Bret Easton Ellis, whom we are encouraged not to trust for any number of reasons. He’s a writer, he cheats on his wife, he’s estranged from his son, he drinks too much, he takes …


‘On Beauty’ by Zadie Smith

Howard and Kiki Besley are the fraught couple at the centre of Zadie Smith’s new novel. Claire Malcolm, poet and interloper in their 30-year marriage, tries to make sense of them: “He was bookish, she was not; he was theoretical, she political. She …


‘In My Skin’ by Kate Holden

The road to junkiedom and prostitution is littered with cliches. Kate Holden’s memoir – the tale of a good Melbourne girl who becomes a heroin-addicted prostitute – mostly avoids the romanticism that often plagues such stories. She’s not averse …