At the beginning of this month I admitted that I do not usually like short stories. Cate Kennedy’s Like a House on Fire was an exception.
Like a House on Fire revolves around issues of loss whether it’s loss of a family member, loss of your old life, loss of your health or loss of your partner. Kennedy explores the human emotions behind this loss and I found the descriptions to be very real and very raw. Anyone who has ever experienced a death in their family, a debilitating illness, the trauma of going back to work after maternity leave, a break-up or even the longing for a set of Derwent pencils (I have) will be able to relate to the stories.
Some of my favourites include ‘Like a House on Fire’ about a family coping with a member’s chronic illness over Christmas, ‘Laminex and Mirrors’ about a teenage girl’s first job at a hospital and the connection she makes with a terminally ill man and ‘Seventy-Two Derwents’, the incredibly sad story of a young girl’s traumatic home life.
It’s funny that I’ve always expected any story to have a climax before ending, but Kennedy’s don’t. I think this adds to their realism. Like life, it’s up and down and continuous. Don’t expect any happy endings either. While there are glimmers of hope throughout there are no miracles or truly uplifting moments. It is for this reason that I wouldn’t recommend reading all the stories at once, unless you are trying to make yourself feel depressed.
Overall, however, I really enjoyed the book and plan on reading more Cate Kennedy in future.
What did everyone else think?
Did you find the stories depressing or uplifting?
Did you have a favourite story?
Is there another short story collection you’d recommend?
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith)
I am a fan of J. K. Rowling’s books, having read all of the Harry Potter series and watched the movies. Having said that, I was disappointed in The Casual Vacancy and wary of what might be in store with The Cuckoo’s Calling – the first crime novel Rowling has written.
The Cuckoo’s Calling turned out to be quite different to Rowling’s previous books, and I found it a good read which was hard to put down once started. It is a detective mystery which reminded me of a modern Agatha Christie novel, perhaps due to it’s London setting, the comparisons with the rich and poor in it, and the clues which keep you guessing ‘who done it’ to the end.
When Robin Ellacott takes a temporary secretarial assignment, she is delighted to find that she has been assigned to a Private Detective agency. Cormoran Strike is a war veteran who has fallen on hard times, and he discovers in Robin the most efficient and intelligent secretary he has ever had.
When a beautiful model falls to her death from her balcony, the police treat it as suicide, but the model’s brother is convinced that it was murder, and he hires Strike to prove it. With Robin’s help, Strike investigates the case only to discover that there is danger lurking, with a murderer who is willing to kill again…and again as they start to uncover clues as to what really happened.
Rowling has confirmed on Galbraith’s website that she has written a sequel which is expected to be out in 2014, and I will definately look forward to reading more in this series.
Post by Catherine Wallace.
About 12 months ago I stumbled across Michael Robotham. His latest novel at the time (Say Your Sorry) was reviewed by Jennifer Byrne on ABC and I just had to pick it up. Once I did, I could not put it down.
His latest novel, Watching You, has had the same effect on me. Robotham uses the same characters and his stories revolve around psychologist Joe O’Loughlin. Joe is somehow always getting mixed up with criminal investigations and he uses his psychology background to find the answer.
In this novel one of Joe’s patients, Marnie, is in trouble. Her husband has disappeared, leaving her and her two children in serious debt. She struggles to find work and keep up with the bills, whilst her husband’s debt collectors are giving her grief.
One more thing, Marnie has a stalker. Someone has been watching her every movement, every day since she was born.
When people around her are killed off, it looks like Marnie may be involved. When Joe tries to investigate he finds there is a lot more to Marnie than meets the eye….
I always pride myself on being able to predict the solution to a mystery, but Robotham thwarts me time and time again. He is very skilled in misleading the reader and even when the case is solved you are still left with an air of mystery which makes you wonder….
It’s the time of year where Library Services over much of the world say “If you owe overdue fines, we’ll call the debt off if you give a charitable gift at Christmas.” After that they collect all the money up, ring the papers, and hand a huge prop check to a charity.
We can’t do that, because we don’t charge overdue fines. There are good reasons for this, but they aren’t germane to the post. If you care, ask in the comments and I can break out some behavioural theory.
What we can do, however is say this: if you played it shady this year with your due dates, and we let you get away with it, please seriously consider giving to the Mayor’s Annual Christmas Appeal. It closes on December 17th this year.
I have embarked on an escapist, literary journey. I have packed my bag, my passport, my map and I’ve set off to see if I can travel ‘Around the world in 80 literary ways”! I plan to read both fiction and non-fiction in an attempt to traverse this wide and wonderful world of ours. Book twenty-three is a photographic masterpiece of collected photographic images of Burma. Author, Kim Buddee is an architect, has film and TV experience and is a genius behind a camera lens.
Once was Burma: New images from the streets of Rangoon captures the fascinating juxtaposition of the Rangoon-streetscape as the old meets the new. Eased sanctions, increasing foreign investment and international development has “opened the doors” of Burma and now the “world” is flooding in. Now is an age of extreme economic and cultural change. The introduction of tourism, western influence, malls, fast food outlets, western style fashion and make-up are slowly encroaching on tradition and Burmese life is transforming. Whether you call it Yangon, Rangoon, Myanmar or Burma this is a culturally rich and diverse country of astounding beauty.
On the streets grand, majestic, heritage Colonial buildings stand proudly. They have survived war, invasion, and have now fallen into neglect and are crumbling edifices. They are relics of a bygone era, threatened by the imposing threat of demolition and redevelopment. This book also captures facets of daily life and existence such as street vendors, local markets, cyclo-transport, places of devotion and worship. ”Once was Burma” offers a unique snapshot of the Burmese “street-scape”.
The author and photographer says that he set out to capture “that moment in time…before everything changes” and with this book he has achieved that beautifully. I would love to have a copy of this book on my coffee table and to look at it over and over again or maybe I’ll just book a holiday to Rangoon myself