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Five books for autumn

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Need to kill some time? Books were made for days spent at home.

Looking for your next great read? Look no further. 

We asked the knowledgeable staff at Manuka’s Paperchain Bookstore for their recommendations for autumn reads. 

The Bass Rock

Evie Wyld

Evie Wyld has proven herself to be a master storyteller, and The Bass Rock is no exception.

Set on the Scottish coast in the shadow of the titular Bass Rock, this most recent novel follows three women who live centuries apart (we are taken back to the 1720s, to the aftermath of WW2, to something like the present), but whose stories are connected by the landscape they inhabit, and by haunting threads of one-another.

Told in language that is both economic and startlingly evocative, this is a deeply unsettling and searingly insightful exploration of abuse and isolation.

The tales of these three women weave in and out of each of their lives, knotted with pain and fury—but also, with the gleam of hope, and the possibility of survival.

Before Time Began

Jessica De Largy Healy, Georges Petitjean, Luke Scholes

Before Time Began is an Indigenous art book, cataloguing the first major Indigenous art exhibition at the Foundation Opale.

The book opens with a series of essays exploring Dreaming, contemporary Indigenous art in Arnhem land and its links to traditional roots, the emergence of the Western Desert art movement at Papunya in the 1970s, and the Kulata Tjuta (Many Spears) Project, which showcases traditional spear-making from a number of Indigenous communities as an art form.

The second half of the book is a catalogue of Indigenous art, paintings, and sculpture from across Australia. The combination of fascinating essays, beautiful art, and rich commentary that provides depth and insight into to each artwork makes this book a fantastic read for anyone interested in art, and Indigenous culture and history.

The Memory Pool

Therese Spruhan

For many of us, our early memories ripple with swimming pools. If home was the suburbs—perhaps the scent of chlorine, the grease of sunscreen and hot chips, the scald of concrete. If the ocean was close—maybe hair encrusted with salt, the sequinned surface of sea pools, sandwiches full of sand.

In The Memory Pool, Therese Spruhan has collected stories from 27 Australians who hold dear the swimming pools of their youth—stories of imagination and escape, of endless summers, of after-school rituals, of teenage romances, of secrets and dreaming. These tales will move and delight anyone who knows what it is to be glitteringly haunted by a pool from childhood—whether a pool of the city or the suburbs, of the ocean or the bush.

This Is How You Lose The Time War

Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose The Time War is a captivating blend of science fiction, queer romance, and lyrical prose, in which two spies (Red and Blue) working for opposite factions—each trying to bring about their versions of a utopia across multiple universes and timelines—begin exchanging letters and slowly fall in love, forging a dangerous bond with each other that could spell tragedy in the midst of war.

El-Mohtar and Gladstone’s writing is wonderfully rich, with vivid artistic expression and fascinating worlds and ideas. Red and Blue are brilliantly deep and different characters, who the reader slowly gets to know through the letters being exchanged, the way that they interact with the worlds they’re tasked with altering, and their reactions to each other.

A gripping and emotional read.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Ottessa Moshfegh

Never one to shy away from the darker realities of contemporary life, Ottessa Moshfegh’s latest novel is a grim, funny and artfully realised account of disconnection and alienation.

Set in pre 9/11 New York, the unnamed narrator—a beautiful, wealthy young women—dulls the pain of her parents’ death by putting herself into ‘chemical hibernation’ for a year—taking a vast menu of prescription drugs obtained from the ethically dubious Dr. Tuttle.

In doing so, she hopes to emerge cured of the disaffection she feels in being alive in a seemingly pointless modern world. Of course, things don’t go as planned, but Moshfegh’s skill in building the world of this character is a compelling triumph.

All titles available for purchase at Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka | paperchainbookstore.com.au

This article originally appeared in Magazine: Time (AW2020), available to read free online.

Read it here.

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