Month: June 2021

Book review – Love Objects, by Emily Maguire

Title: Love Objects

Author: Emily Maguire

Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2021

Emily Maguire has written six novels including An Isolated Incident, which was shortlisted for the Stella Prize and Miles Franklin Award. Maguire has also written three non-fiction books and numerous widely published articles.

Love Objects is a novel written with deep compassion and respect and yet it displays a boldness and directness that bounces from the page. Nic is a forty-five-year-old single woman who can’t resist collecting and does so in earnest. Nic, who works in a discount department store, gathers newspapers, vases, coffee mugs, lamps, pots, and various unwanted paraphernalia including live cats. Her house is filled to brimming and finding space for daily tasks becomes difficult. But Nic feels the shame of her jam-packed house and refuses to let anyone in.

Nic has a niece, Lena, who she has always had a special relationship with. They meet for lunch every Sunday at a local restaurant. Lena and her brother Will are the children of Nic’s sister who relied heavily on Nic during the children’s childhood. Lena is a university student and Will is interstate living in a relationship with a woman with two young children, after a stint in jail. 

Catch up with Emily Maguire

at the garret podcast

New neighbours attempt to befriend Nic, and the local council pesters her for an inspection of her property, which she avoids. Nic keeps everyone at bay and allows no one to pass her front door. When she fails to arrive for Sunday lunch, Lena arrives at her aunt’s house and finds her unconscious from a fall amongst her cluttered possessions. Nic is hospitalised and the hospital social work department refuses to allow Nic to return home unless her circumstances change. 

Unbeknown to her aunt, Lena has problems of her own. She’s involved with a rich and devious university student who videoed them having sex and then shared it on the internet. Will, separated from his partner, arrives back in town, without money and a drug problem. They both move into Nic’s house in an attempt to manage their own issues and de-clutter the house. The family bonds are stretched when Nic returns home from hospital and the three of them attempt to untangle the past and negotiate the future.

Emily Maguire weaves a strong and heartfelt story of loneliness, loyalty, family relationships and class. Love Objects is laced with sadness and humour and the characters are real, so real that the reader is left thinking about them well after the last page is turned. A great read.

Reviewed by: Heather Whitford Roche, June 2021

Ballarat Writers Inc Book Review Group

July Writers Corner – social media

Writers Corner is back! With the June event having been cancelled due to Covid restrictions, July will pick up where we left off with a discussion of social media for writers.

Do you have followers or are you a follower, perhaps a blogger or a vlogger, tweeter, snapper, and or a chatter?  Maybe you just enjoy a surf, virtually speaking from a digitised reality. 

Is it a matter of sitting in front of your keyboard and tapping away, word after word, sentence after sentence – taking the words straight to the world wide web? Is social media the ultimate in self-publishing – do it anytime, anywhere, put it out there? Well, maybe not.

Building content is difficult. Reaching and keeping followers (audience) is not easy. Just because you have built it, they may not come.  But you should come to Writers Corner and tell your social media story.

Come along on Tuesday 6 July at 2pm at the Bunch of Grapes in Pleasant Street, Ballarat, and join the Writers Corner discussion about social media and putting yourself out there in the digital universe.

Book review – Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Klara and the Sun

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro 

Publisher: Faber and Faber, 2021

The author

Kazuo Ishiguro is a Nobel Prize-winning author who was born in Nagasaki, Japan, and has lived in Britain since the age of five.  This is his ninth major work of fiction.  He is also a screenwriter, musician, and a short-story writer. Ishiguro was knighted in 2018 for services to literature and has been honoured in France and Japan.

The book

What better way to comment on human behaviour than to see it through the eyes of a non-human, in this case Klara an AF (artificial friend). AFs are replicants or, for the old fashioned, robots, designed to act as friends for teenagers. Klara is an exceptional AF, highly observant and keen to learn about the world around her.

Klara and the Sun is set in a near-future America, fractured and riven with elitism, fascism and probably every other “ism” there could possibly be.  Identification with America, though, is not absolute, and the countryside could be English or even Australian. Privileged children are “lifted”, schooled remotely until college (university) years; AFs compensate for limited social contact.

Read an interview with Ishiguro about Klara and the Sun

at the guardian

At its core, the story revolves around the relationship between Klara and Josie, a sickly child living with her high-ranking mother and a housekeeper.  Her sister is dead and her father lives elsewhere. Josie has been “lifted” but her childhood friend and neighbour Rick has not.

Gradually Ishiguro introduces us to other important characters in Josie’s life and reveals a perverse twisting of human emotions, especially love and fear and their interplay in human relationships.

Ishiguro has written this story in a style as Japanese as bonsai or pop-culture anime – in a word, with restraint. Klara and the Sun is a masterful piece of writing, picking up on the notion of artificial intelligence and the dystopian extrapolation of current societal developments, making it a unique and, in some ways, a frightening reading experience. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Francis Thompson

Ballarat Writers Inc review group

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