This book could break you

Adjectives that come to mind when I think of Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart: devastating, heartbreaking, ruthless, brutal, distressing. And yet, in the last sentence of the book, I glimpsed hope. The last sentence made me cry, the only time I shed tears despite all the shocking events of the previous 430 pages. All those … Continue reading This book could break you

Fiction & non-fiction in harmony

When Pocket book-club read The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman I knew how it would end and I knew which book I had to re-read next. A few years ago I read Zealot: The Life an Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan. Aslan describes himself as having come from a family of lukewarm Muslims … Continue reading Fiction & non-fiction in harmony

Why do you love short stories?

How old are short stories? Short fiction is as old as humankind. Novels are the new fang-dangled thing. The first short tales were oral. Storytellers often used rhyme to memorise stories. One the earliest still surviving tales is "The Shipwrecked Sailor" written on papyrus in Egypt around 2000 BCE. The Greek Aesop's fables, the first … Continue reading Why do you love short stories?

Where’s the Rakija?

The Pocket Bookclub set a dangerous precedent when we emulated Eleanor Oliphant's favourite dinner of vodka and pizza. It seemed that on every other page the characters in Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife are drinking Rakija or Rakia. This is essentially fruit brandy from the Balkans which you cannot buy (easily) in Australia. We know … Continue reading Where’s the Rakija?