What We’ve Been Reading: September 0 Comments

What We’ve Been Reading: September


I’ve been trying to read more over the past month. This means I’m reading lots of shorter stuff: short stories and poetry collections on trams, 35,000 feet up in the air and while waiting for my leftovers to reheat in the office microwave. Mistakes Were Made is a great collection of short essays by Voiceworks alumnus Liam Pieper. Whoever says young people haven’t lived enough to write memoir needs to have this book shoved up their left nostril. (It’s probably small enough to fit, too, given it’s only 67 pages long.) Perfect for reading on public transport or while waiting for that friend who always runs late. The only downside is you’ll probably devour the book in one sitting and be left wanting more.

Over the past month I’ve also read the delightful Bridget Lutherborrow’s collection of short stories Thirteen Story Horse, which is a ripper, and Patricia Smith’s poetry collection Blood Dazzler—which is especially heart-ripping given it has been ten years since Hurricane Katrina. I also snapped up two excellent gems at the zine fair while at the National Young Writers’ Festival in Newcastle: Love Poems by Romy Durrant and Intimacy and Other Bruises by Molly Lukin. These poets are definitely ones to watch.


Viv Albertine’s memoir Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys. Oh boy. I was expecting a run-of-the-mill, reminiscing-about-the-golden-years-of-punk autobiography, but it was so much more than that. Raw and inspiring, the book not only details Viv’s life in London in the ’70s and her membership of the all-female band The Slits, it’s a brutally honest account of life after punk. She details her transition from squat dwelling twenty-something to repressed country housewife, holding nothing back from the reader. From teaching herself the guitar to going topless for The Slits’ album cover to sparing no detail about her struggle to get pregnant and the toll it took on her body (not to mention her brutal account of her cancer battle), Clothes Music Boys is about so much more than punk.

Black Inc. has an imprint called Short Black: $7 paperback essays by Australian authors. I read Fat City by Karen Hitchcock, a doctor and writer. In it, she unpacks the idea of obesity from a medical perspective and the difficulty that comes with treating it as a disease. It’s a pretty balanced account of an issue that’s got some strong, sensitive opinions surrounding it. She basically summarises the facts: the problem with obesity is that more goes in than comes out, and in Australia at the moment there is societal tension between ‘being healthy’, the aesthetic value of ‘thinness’ and the corporate push to get vulnerable people addicted to processed junk food. Food for thought.


Susan Sontag’s wisdom and words have been in my periphery for some time. A critical but astute writer and academic that can hit the nerve of some of the most mystifying issues with relative ease, I had been meaning to get around to reading her work and recently picked up On Photography. She breaks down the practice into bite-sized pieces, talking about the inherent exploration of it, the context of photography,and the power a photographer wields. A photographer myself, it summarised many of the uncomfortable truths that accompany the art that I had been feeling for some time. As image makers, we are responsible for constructing images of beauty and acceptability that are fair and just, and Sontag certainly cleared those waters for me. She may in fact tear photography apart bit by bit, but there’s nothing better than reading something that challenges your beliefs and keeps you on your toes.



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