What We’ve Been Reading: August 0 Comments

What We’ve Been Reading: August

Clare Millar

So after winning the Kill Your Darlings trivia night, my pick to take home was Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill. It was a tough choice of what my pick from the team’s prize would be, but this book was too intriguing to ignore. I don’t normally l read a book straight away after getting it, so this was an exception. It’s biography of fictional Australian writers, whilst tying into real Australian and international literary history. There’s every type of writer described in there: the old school poet, the bizarre avant-grade, the disrespected woman, the obsessive editor and so on. Some things in the book you know are real, and some you wish were. It’s the kind of book that is a risk for publishers, because it’s so new in approach. O’Neill’s writing is so skilful that it is biography, just that the people are made up. It’s amazing just how well that works, and at times his descriptions of these writers is quite comedic. I’d have to say this is my favourite read of the year so far. I’m definitely interested in reading more works that bend the fiction/non-fiction dichotomy. O’Neill has crafted such a unique idea to perfection. It’s a pleasure reading something so thoughtful and challenging to Australian literature.

Nina Carter

Recently, I’ve read So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. In So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Ronson takes us on a merry ride through recent public shaming events, and reflects on the resurgence of shame as an indication of public consensus. He proposes that, with the advent of social media, public shaming has grown in popularity (affecting the way we act as a group, and affecting the norms that we perpetuate with that group status).

I think Ronson’s matter-of-fact, easygoing tone really benefits the subject matter of this book. By telling the stories of individuals whose lives have been affected by public shaming––Justine Stacco, Jonah Lehrer, Lindsey Stone, and more—he brings shame to the foreground, and shows, through a thoughtful investigation, how shame can impact people’s lives. What really surprises me about this novel is Ronson’s determination to be immersed in the shaming process. He goes to great lengths to investigate not only the brutal ramifications of embarrassing oneself in public, but also the time-consuming quest of finding a shame-free paradise in a very, very, public world. Certainly, this novel has caused me to look at social media from a different point of view. If you’re interested in looking at how we interact with one another online, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a great place to start.

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