Reviews and Comments

wrul (they, iel, etc)

Joined 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Nairm & Birrarungga, Kulin biik
Reading mainly in Englishes and Frenches.

Most of this account is designated “followers‐only”, for the cosiness.

  • If you’d like a better sense of subjects and style before deciding whether to dip in, consider a bounce around the informal lit‐talk of BREYDON’s been reading. As well as there, book‐readin of the (long) 2022 appears on my pre‐huddle profile,
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My user avatar is a rainbow lorikeet feeding on orange gum blossoms — photographed above a suburban nature strip, on Boon Wurrung Country.

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Females (Paperback, en-Latn-US language, 2019, Verso) 4 stars

funny, vague, clever

4 stars

That was all I'd jotted down as a review of this, last year: "funny, vague, clever".

Vague? I meant it, strangely, as a compliment. The declarations are bold. From the first page, Andrea Long Chu arrays her arguments on a sweeping, jokey surge: "Everyone is female [...] There are no good female poets, simply because there are no good poets."

For a short book, Females is dense with points. Much is blunted in the rush. Beats are firmly met (or, if hard to pinpoint, are kept to), yet transition is a constant; text supple within constraints, and still its reach broad or deep or precipitously high, in the manner of a (complex) wave. It can't sustain itself at the extremes (and doesn't try to, hovers without overstaying, inertia impelling), but supports itself up there, however insubstantially.

Greenwood (Paperback, en-Latn-CA language, 2020, Scribe) 5 stars

2038. On a remote island off the Pacific coast of British Columbia stands the Greenwood …

a little bit monumental?

5 stars

A noticeable boundary arose, a couple of months ago, in the items delivered to me by the home library service. Sharp as between the rings of a trunk. Somebody new had started selecting loans for me.

Since that moment, Greenwood was the one I looked forward to most. Like many of its bagmates, I hadn’t heard of it, or its author, but the blurb held startling promise. I cored a few sentences from its heart, at random. Yes. They were striking. I would save this one, savour it.

Aside from the back third or so lacking the structural fullness of most of the novel — a slow and then hastening collapse which the format, together with the thematic content, primes the reader to anticipate, anyway — Greenwood did not disappoint in the least. Though not without occasional irritant (the typical occasion being an (at first glance?) unconvincing blow to …

Everything Feels Like the End of the World (Paperback, en-Latn-AU language, 2022, Allen & Unwin) 1 star

Everything Feels Like the End of the World is a collection of short speculative fiction …

well‐boring, yet not penetrating

1 star

The conceit of this being a collection of short stories may have served the writer well in maintaining funding, an audience, and industry connection throughout its composition, but fails the book as an artwork. Its abundance of redundant chapters would betray careless curation, an unwarranted, greedy completionism, were these genuine standalones, containers each of a story. Their emptiness, as even those chapters exceeding a couple of paragraphs remain bare vignette; the dogged homogeneity of concept; the consistent chronology along which they are all chained, the flicker of more‐than‐the‐sum‐of‐its‐parts integration; though, belong to a novel. Or an attempt at a novel.

The speculative urbanism approaches a cool. Some thought, maybe even research, has gone into redesigning an ever more inundated Birrarungga, to fashioning successive layers, up, down, and out, of future Old Melbournes and proposing emergent cultures around these. The evolution of increasingly coastal towns to the east is infinitely …

Clan (Hardcover, en-Latn-AU language, 2013, Allen & Unwin) 3 stars

Clan explores the world of Bangarra Dance Theatre and the extraordinary Aboriginal and Torres Strait …

mere flex

3 stars

[12 Jan 2023]

Dancers communicate so profoundly with the mere flex of a foot or hand, a shift of focus, the roll of a head, the transfer of weight within their body.

⸻ Stephen Page, opening page

Yet considering all that is going on in the images which fill almost the entire book, Barrett’s photography (as paired with Page’s art direction?) tends to be rather lifeless. Murky, flat, depleted of momentum, almost clinical, for all the heavy‐ink, gloss and phenomenal energies gone in.

I couldn’t help but contrast the pronounced underwhelm at a first glance through 21st century, prestige project Clan with my memory of alternately squint‐goggling at a juddery, blurred few‐second clip of anthropologist–choreographer Pearl Primus’ 1950 solo dance Spirituals, rolled and buoyed and awash with awe, utterly.

Like [Isadora] Duncan, [Primus] danced with — not against — gravity, but in her case the gesture tied …

wants to read 地球星人 by Sayaka Murata

地球星人 (Paperback, ja-Jpan-JP language, 2021, Shinchōsha) 4 stars


Truly the longest of shots, as I don’t know that one’s been produced, but would anyone happen to have a spoken edition of this I could borrow?

(It’s Earthlings in the original Japanese).

L'homme qui voulait être heureux (Paperback, fr-Latn language, 2010, Pocket) 2 stars

les trous partout gâchent tout

2 stars

Content warning la dévaluation des vies racisées, l’écrasement des piétons

toki pona is a minimalist language that focuses on the good things in life.

It …

ona li suwi lili taso toki insa li pana e wawa jaki

1 star

sona toki pi jan wan lon lipu toki lili. ona li pana e ken kama sona lili kepeken ala mani. teno pini la mi alasa e ni. taso mi kama wile sama e sona pi jan mute e sona musi.

lipu mute ni li jo e moli mute tan jan. ni li ike tawa mi tan ni: teno pini la jan li toki lon nasi ni: toki pona li sewi e pilin pona.

sitelen li len e lipu. sitelen len li suwi. mi wile mute kama sona e sitelen toki e tawa toki.

mi kin wile lukin e anpa pi supa toki. tan nimi ali li seme? jan li pali e sona sin pi toki pona kepeken open lawa seme?

Despite the publication itself being quite sweet, the expressions inside exude off‐putting vibes.

One person’s idea of the language has gone into a free educational pamphlet, which is what I’d …

Fever of Animals (Paperback, en-Latn-AU language, 2015, Scribe Publications) 2 stars

For nearly five years I have wanted to write something about the surrealist painter Emil …

Elwood ennui

2 stars

[18 January 2023, Boonwurrung Country]

These remarks seem more review, I suppose, than close reading. So have a rating: straddling the slog of a one and the old two for well, I would not publish it, myself, in this state.

Allinson studs his book, very sparely, with breathtaking twists of phrase. The surrounding text is meticulously crafted also, and, I found (especially in the cases of the absolutely agonisingly autobiographically pitched Parts One and Three), disengaging.

It’s a multilayered grief text, but heavily filtered through themes of middleclass masculinity. Cultural cringe, even. The narrator is occasionally transposed to some other voice (slightly older Miles! slightly younger Miles! art critic Miles! potted historian Miles! translated scrap of this or that secondary source in the sole possession of Miles! gonzo journo Miles! Miles as Miles imagines his girlfriend would word him... travelogue Miles: miles of Miles...), without straying towards much of a …

Care of Australian Wildlife (Paperback, en-Latn-AU language, 2010, New Holland) 5 stars

Care of Australian Wildlife is the definitive guide for all Australians wishing to protect and …

decisive in a crisis, important in the ordinary

5 stars

Exemplary, clear and thorough guidance on first aid, rehabilitation, and resolving awkward encounters, along with well-rounded advice on planning garden spaces, managing habitat, and incorporating furnishings (such as nest boxes, birdbaths and possum thoroughfares) to support wildlife.

Indigenous Plants of the Sandbelt (Paperback, en-Latn-AU language, 2002, Earthcare St Kilda) 5 stars

Indigenous Plants of the Sandbelt is a gardening book which will increase your understanding of …

a grounded grounding

5 stars

Guess what sits top of the list Gardening in Naarm’s Sandbelt, where I wrote what seems review enough I figured I’d expand slightly on it with an actual one.

Grounded in the very geology of the place, this is a slim but rich introduction to a representative selection of local plant species, and assisting them in forming communities.

It is useful as! The authors strike a fine balance, which the clear presentation makes look so easy: being welcoming to beginners, reaching deep for the hardcore, and always keeping things convenient. It’s a surprise not to have met more books of this formula, as such guides could obviously be immensely beneficial in all kinds of places.

The text isn’t perfect. My biggest gripes are wordings that would confine Aboriginal practices to the past, and quite so readily condoning resort to rank pesticide.

I might have liked slightly more attention on …

Queer Out Here Issue 00 (AudiobookFormat, en-Zxxx language, 2017) 5 stars

Allysse and Jonathan discuss how being queer/LGBTQIA+ might affect a person’s outdoor experiences, connections between …

Alrighty, BookWyrms — you’ve got a fair few zines now, on top of audiobooks. How about a lovely audiozine?

This one’s probably up a lot of our alleys, actually! Certainly I feel like wending through the back issues afresh, once I run out of current audiobook, in a couple of hours’ listening time.

Meanwhile, for a few short more weeks, Allysse and Jonathan are inviting people to contribute to Queer Out Here Issue 08, with the optional theme of direction!