Book review ~ Burial rites

Title: Burial rites

Author: Hannah Kent

Published: 2013 by Picador, Australia

Adult fiction/ historical fiction

Burial Rites is a very popular book, on the book club circuit, at my library. This made reserving the book difficult due to its popularity. In my mind, I needed to read this book and once a copy became available I grabbed it. The expectations were confounded further upon discovering it is the first novel written by Hannah Kent, translated to over 20 languages, optioned for a Hollywood film and boasts an impressive list of awards as follows;

  • Shortlisted for The Stella Prize
  • Shortlisted for The Guardian First Book Award 2013
  • Winner of Indie Awards 2014
  • Winner of Victorian Premier’s Literary Award People’s Choice Award 2014
  • Winner of FAW Christina Stead Award 2014
  • Winner of ABA Nielsen Bookdata Booksellers’ Choice Award 2014
  • Shortlisted for NiB Waverley Award for Literature 2013
  • Shortlisted for Voss Literary Award 2014
  • Winner of ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2014
  • Winner of SMH Best Young Australian Novelist 2014
  • Winner of ABIA/Booktopia People’s Choice Award 2014
  • Shortlisted for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014
  • Shortlisted for Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction 2014
  • Shortlisted for ALS Gold Medal 2014
  • Shortlisted for National Book Awards 2014
  • Winner of Davitt Awards Debut Fiction 2014
  • Winner of Davitt Awards Reader’s Choice 2014

(Source: )

Hannah Kent spent some time in Iceland, on an exchange as a teenager. During this time, she learnt of Agnus Magnusdottir, the last woman to be executed in Northern Iceland, for her part in the murders of two men in 1829. This historical moment/story inspired Hannah Kent to go back, later in life, with intent to research the story and write this novel. The detail of the research process is outlined in the back pages of the book. At the beginning of the book is an outline of Icelandic genealogical passing on of names based on patrilineal heritage. Sometimes genealogical links can become unclear depending on social circumstance, position in the household and desires to keep infidelity hushed up. This provides an insight into relationships.

When I first started reading the novel, I found it difficult to become fully engaged. Even though the writing was great and I enjoyed trying to map names and relationships, it seemed somewhat held back. I discussed this with a friend who felt that the language was too contemporary for the period it was set in and thus detracted from the work, for her reading pleasures. Whilst I understood her point, I can’t see how the language could have been written differently. It may have made it even less accessible. Even though I was enjoying the read, I put it down for a week only a third of the way into the story.
When I picked up the novel again, I found I became more enthralled with each revelation in the story. At the outset of the novel Agnus barely spoke, as if her words could not be heard even if she tried. The language snippets suggested the power of society was how her story was being told and she had resigned herself to there being no point in trying to be heard. This concept of storying became something that needed to be questioned. As Agnus started opening up and storying, I became engrossed wanting to learn about her character, to understand her, to see the injustice in her in life. I became engrossed in examination of power relationships, the complexities of social and economic power and how women were intertwined with power, disempowerment and a process of finding power in the gaps that presented themselves.
Once engrossed, I wanted to keep reading. When I finished, I wanted more. By the end, I realized the sophistication of the story, the research and the capturing of power relations. I fell in love with the writing of this story. It is fiction yet somehow resonates a truth.
When you finish reading a book and you want to reread it again, because you may discover something overlooked in the first reading, is when you know how great the storying is.
You may be interested in the following review on Burial rites:
Fire and ice – written by Steven Heighten and published September 27, 2013 in The New York Times

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in 094 ~ Printed books


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Book review- The Convent

Book review- The Convent

Title: The Covent

Author: Maureen McCarthy

Published: 2012 by Allen & Unwin  

 Young Adult fiction

In the Author notes, to The Convent, Maureen McCarthy shares a note written to herself from 1991. This note outlines a desire to find out more about her mum’s past, and her life as a ward of the state at the Abbotsford Convent. This is the seed that Spurs her extensive historical research in the development of a novel spanning four generations of women and their connections to The Convent over time. McCarthy declares ‘Like no other book I’ve written The Convent feels like mine’, highlighting the personal connection felt for the stories being told in the fictitious weaving of lives and interactions. 

The Convent covers the lives of four generations of women who have had connections with the Abbotsford Convent. Sadie, Ellen, Cecelia and Perpetua. Sadie’s three year old daughter Ellen is forcibly taken from her and raised at the Convent during the 1920’s. Ellen’s daughter Cecelia becomes a nun at The Convent during the 1960’s and Perpetua works in the cafe at The Convent after it has been reopened as an arts precinct with studios, cafes and galleries in contemporary times.

The intersection of stories is mapped through each of the women, their connection to each other, to The Convent and the connection with Perpetua (Peach) who is at the centre of these intersecting stories as the heart of the novel. 

The structure of the novel aids the delivery of the complexity of character and story development over an historical timeline spanning a century. This is easily achieved with each chapter in the novel titled by the characters name; from which the perspective is to be delivered. As historical moments shift in narrative, dates are provided to indicate moving back and forth in time, revealing situations, life changing incidents and the impact of social forces on the lives of women at different points in time. 

For me, the strength of this novel is its ability to capture the strength of the stories of women, despite hardships, different social mores in different socio-historical time periods, and the choices made impacting on lives lived. These choices are either by self or imposed by others contributing to life paths travelled. In some ways the stories in this novel capture the complexity of female empowerment and disempowerment at the same time across the different periods of time that is mapped.
I will definitely reread this novel!

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Posted by on September 4, 2015 in 094 ~ Printed books, Library, Literacy


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Analog/digital photography hack

This morning a friend forwarded the following clip. The possibilities started racing in my mind. I love analog photography and have some old SLR’s hanging around awaiting a revival.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about getting back to the chemical process and developing film. However, whilst I have the tools and ability to develop film to negatives, I don’t have an enlarger to then take the next step and print the film. I also have numerous negatives, that have been sitting around in storage, awaiting a form of revival….

… Let’s get creative and imagine the analog/digital possibilities with the following simple hack… I do need to buy new Asics though  ;)


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New Years Resolution – Goodbye Facebook

I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with Facebook from the moment I joined the site in September, 2011. In fact, I was avoiding Facebook for years but succumbed to the relationship. My favourite features of Facebook are the events calender and the private messaging function. I enjoy some connections I have made, the ability to share content and engage in conversation. However, I dislike a great deal about Facebook and my dislike of this social media platform is growing. This Pew research study in the USA indicates many people share this attitude.

I have shared posts to Facebook specifically pointing out what’s wrong with this social media behemoth. In reality, I’m continually reaffirming my need to finally leave. There are many reasons to dislike Facebook. Some include privacy concerns, unethical studies, and the use of personal information for corporate gains . In recent times, I’ve noticed my feed became more and more controlled by Facebook in terms of what I see. My diminishing control over my feed provides even more reason to leave. After all, who wants to continue in a relationship that feels controlling?

I can’t help but liken this social media platform, that is Facebook, to the monopoly/duopoly control of traditional media platforms before the internet. Remember when you couldn’t control when ad breaks came on or what program to view because it was all programmed for you?

I have taken a break, for a couple of months, in the past and didn’t miss my time away. However, I came back again, took more mini breaks here and there and kept coming back. It seems, attempts to disengage haven’t been successful and I’ve been a glutton for this love-hate relationship. This gluttony needs to end and my focus will be the exit strategy as a New Years resolution.

To affirm my commitment, to breaking up with Facebook, I’ve had discussions with close friends who took the plunge and left successfully. Two of my close friends have been away from Facebook for over a year and touted the benefits of leaving, including how easy it is to stay away. Considering I took the plunge with Television, years ago, and rarely watch it now, it’s time for me to break up with Facebook.

Besides, I’m already engaged across other social media platforms and they don’t elicit these feelings of the love-hate relationship that is Facebook.

Here are a few articles for more inspiration and to remind me, over the next two months, why leaving Facecrack is the best decision to make.

1. 10 reasons to leave Facebook.

2. 10 ways leaving Facebook changed my life.

3. Teens exlplain why they don’t care about Facebook anymore.

4. How to permanently delete a Facebook account

5 How to delete your Facebook account


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Tales from the sketchbook an exhibition by Barek


Barek is really quite an extraordinary artist. Today, I spent some time having a preview and a chat, at Off The Kerb Gallery  with Barek and Shini, the director of the gallery. Barek’s first exhibition in Melbourne called ‘Tales from the sketchbook’ will open on 17th October, 2014 at Off the Kerb and is just wonderful.

Barek’s art is recognisable by his signature character drawings. His drawings often depict a similar face, including the Barek eyes and round face. Yet, in this face, emotion is captured that invokes a certain empathy. This is how I came to the works of Barek, and still understand the art of Barek, personally.

Speaking to the director of Off the Kerb, I realised that there is a word that captures some of the feeling, and it is my favourite word; Melancholy. We held a shared understanding of melancholy as a beautiful concept. It can’t be universally defined, yet it invokes empathy. This empathy speaks to something we know, feel or have experienced. It is difficult to understand yet easy to feel.

Tales from the sketchbook

opening 17th October, 2014


at Off the Kerb Gallery

66B Johnstone street, Collingwood

Barek window

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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]


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Review ~ Woman’s World: a graphic novel

Woman’s World: a graphic novel
By Graham Rawle
Atlantic Books London, 2005
ISBN: 9781843543688

Transitioning from reading for study purposes to reading for leisure has been a challenge these past few months and it has taken time to move into the world of fiction and reading for fun. However, Woman’s World is the first read that I have enjoyed.

Woman’s World is constructed entirely with found text from women’s magazines in the 1960’s. The author wrote the outline of the story and over five years replaced his written outline with text found and cut out from magazines. The author used a traditional cut and paste method to create the pages that were then scanned to make the final work.

This technique, in constructing a story, initially drew me to this novel. I was curious as to how it would read and whether it would work effectively without being disjointed. I wondered about the content of women’s magazines, from a particular time period, and whether it would create a context and culturally shape the world of the fiction created.

This method of constructing a novel, from text found in women’s magazines in the 1960’s, added to the layers of the story in a way I hadn’t considered. References to clothing, appearance and cleaning added meaning to the plot and contributed to character development and interactions.

With found text Rawle has created a work that captures the world of these magazines and a world of the characters in this novel. As ‘he do the police in a differnt voice’, a blogpost on IF: the future of books states “Rawle stitches phrases and words together to create something new’.

I didn’t know anything about the story before I started reading and I was pleasantly surprised with the ease I felt in losing myself in the storying. Suspense came into play and the emotional journeys took shape. My consciousness of the text from women’s magazines, was strongly present throughout my reading but this did not detract from the storying. Instead it proved crucial to the overall development enhancing the reading of the novel.

…I will not share the plot here as the thriller moments are best discovered by oneself. Enjoy.

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Posted by on August 31, 2014 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]


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An Audiovisual notepad

It started with Vine and the six second loops. This quickly led to experimentation and unleashed creativity with the limitations imposed by the Vine app.

This progressed to edited clips, uploaded to Instagram, and seeking out post-production apps. Whilst hoping Final Cut Pro will one day feature in the app store, this has not materialised and Cute Cut Pro has worked quite well.

I still refuse to upload post-produced clips to Vine, even though the ability to do so has been enabled with updated versions of the app. Maybe it’s the limitations that I actually enjoy as a creative process.

Over the past year my interest in making videos with mobile technology has intensified…
Now I just keep sketching or shooting clips even if only in the short mode style. In fact, I haven’t bothered with my old cameras or desktop editing with Final Cut Pro. It’s been over a year now. As time passes I’m less and less interested in venturing back because I love the freedom of creating wherever and whenever. If it can’t be created with mobile technology then I don’t bother.

Upon reflection, this process has become an audiovisual creative notepad of sorts. I play with ideas, experiment and share. Some ideas seem to spark an interest in me and call for further development whilst others are just a moment fleeting. There are a few ideas from this audiovisual notepad that I want to flesh out and develop into short films and animations but of course this will take time and involve more writing and sketching.

Right now this process works for me and suits me just fine.

As an extension, I’m enjoying passing the inspiration of this process to other animators/filmmakers and colleagues at my workplace. It’s the new democratisation of media production.

Here’s a brief ‘How to’ clip I found on the inter webs about Cute Cut Pro

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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]


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