One of our dozen Top Aussie Reads of 2016
5 Ways to be Famous Now Synopsis :
A glamorous ocean liner, inspired by the original ghostly Queen Mary, sets sail on its maiden voyage from Hobart to Antarctica. The personal plaything of the super-rich Kirstin McKinley, those on board include the novel’s unnamed narrator, a library assistant with a passion for fire and revenge. Lily Zelinski, a journalist on the hunt for a big story. Shanti Bounty, a yoga teacher in Birkenstocks. Monica Frequen, the once celebrated author of Sea of Love. And Adriane Jones, a Diana devotee, who long ago met the Princess when working in a war-zone hell. She still carries Diana’s secret with her. All are deliciously connected in unforeseen ways.
The journey in 5 Ways to be Famous Now is wild and rollicking, full of Maurilia Meehan’s trademark satirical wit and sharp observation. This is a delightful and amusing novel – and just a little bit savage – for anyone who ever wanted to know the secrets of fame. (Transit Lounge)
I am both in awe of and just a tiny bit concerned for the clever mind from which this deliciously dark and twisted tale was born. At only 190 pages (with large font) Maurilia Meehan’s 5 Way to be Famous Now is a small literary serving that packs a real punch.
With the opening line,
Rest assured, you will find me a most reliable narrator. Facts only.
Meehan caught my attention and maintained a stranglehold with a series of ever more understated revelations about her eclectic cast of characters brimming with neuroses. No one, not even this novel’s audience (readers), are safe from the mordant wit the author dishes out via her narcissistic first person narrator.
So here you have me. Literate, capable of action. A rare combination.
5 Ways to be Famous Now is a fantastically irreverent and highly amusing web of deceit, that’s well worth unravelling.
* I recommend this great Q&A with Good Reading Magazine in which Maurilia Meehan shares her many and varied influences for this novel, including Clive Palmer and an article from The Age about cutting a hole in the Antarctic ice for a swim.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
Genre: Literature, Humour, Drama, Mystery
Author Information: Maurilia Meehan lives in Hepburn Springs, Victoria. Novelist, short story writer and poet, she is the winner of The State of Victoria Short Story Award and her first novel was shortlisted for the Australian Vogel Award. Her second novel Fury was shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year and the prestigious Miles Franklin Award. Her novel The Sea People was shortlisted for the Braille Talking Books Award. Her work has been translated into French, German and Chinese. Madame Bovary’s Haberdashery was published by Transit Lounge Publishing in 2013, and this her new release, 5 Ways To Be Famous Now, is out September 1, 2016. Find out more at her official website.
The Salamanders Synopsis :
At its heart, The Salamanders is a love story. Arthur lives in a hut by the Hawkesbury River, the detritus of suburban life gradually encroaching. When Rosie, the adopted daughter of his fathers’ second wife returns from England to visit. their time together raises childhood memories of their father Peregrine, a famous and controversial artist, and what happened at a holiday by the ocean years ago.
Rosie, Arthur and Peregrine are characters the reader will find it hard to let go of, and this is also a subtle, affecting novel of ideas. With poetic, hallucinatory power, Lane explores how art can become life, how we as adults cannot truly escape the past and the influence of our parents, and how we might embrace the intensity and beauty of the moment as we journey towards reconciliation. (Transit Lounge)
Having been impressed by William Lane’s previous novel The Horses, in which he ‘capably and artfully tackled difficult and important issues’, his latest release The Salamanders did not live up to my expectations.
It contained passages of lyricism and keen observation that I admired greatly but the novel as a whole felt patchy, the delivery inconsistent. At times the artistry felt forced, indulgent even and some of the surreal, dreamlike interludes lacked sufficient grounding (or apparent purpose) to hold my interest.
I do however acknowledge that The Salamanders is a story about enigmatic artistic influences and distinctly nomadic (and in appearance fickle) lifestyle choices, so some elements which I considered weaknesses could well have been intended to reinforce that theme.
BOOK RATING: The Story 2.5 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5
Genre: Literature, Drama
This review counts toward my participation in the Aussie Author Challenge 2016.
Author Information: William Lane lives in the Hunter Valley, NSW, where he is raising three children. After completing an Honours degree in Australian literature, he travelled and worked in a number of different jobs. In addition to reading and writing, his interests include music and education. He has completed a doctorate on the Australian writer Christina Stead, and has had several critical articles on Stead published in literary journals. He is the author of two other novels: Over the Water (2014) and The Horses (2015). An earlier and different manuscript version of The Salamanders (titled An English Girl) was shortlisted for the Vogel Prize. An earlier version of The Salamanders also won a Varuna Litlink Fellowship in 2010.