I am in the total reading doldrums at the moment. I can’t seem to be grabbed by anything! And I’ve tried. Really tried. I’ve tried some new literary things, some commercial ones, and I’ve even dipped my toe into some crime fiction. But nothing is doing it for me. I want to be captured. Entranced. Romanced. Hooked. Instead, I read a few pages of something new and just thing – ‘meh’. The problem is, I’ve been spoiled this year. There have been so many terrific releases, particularly in my chief area of love – contemporary fiction by Australian women writers. I always thought publishers aimed to release new works ‘in time for Christmas’. Now, I’m starting to understand that, by mid-November, everything is probably already out. Publishers are looking at 2016. But – I live in hope. If you know of anything new, by an Australian woman writer, please let me know!

Out of desperation, I’ve picked up Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which I missed when it came out in 2014 and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. It’s a massive book, which is perhaps one of the reasons I’ve been putting it off. But – if everything I’ve heard is true – it will be worth the investment of time.

annabel crabbWATCHING:

Why is everyone hating on Kitchen Cabinet (ABC TV) at the moment?

If you read this piece from New Matilda, you would think Annabel Crabb (my imaginary best friend) is the very devil herself for trying to humanise politicians. According to Amy McQuire, ‘Crabb is helping Australia wash down the lies of our nation’s politicians,’ all because she dares to give them half an hour, once a week, to cook a meal on telly, and act like a human being.

A few days later, The Conversation, chipped in with a piece, telling us that Kitchen Cabinet is inherently racist. ‘Kitchen Cabinet’s staging of “casual” food preparation and consumption with the nation’s most powerful people reproduces a culture of white Australian entitlement to master and consume any and every cultural product, regardless of who it belongs to,’ wrote Sarah Keenan.

To be frank, I don’t buy into either of these critiques. If Kitchen Cabinet was THE ONLY forum for questioning politicians on TV, then these writers might have a point. The fact is, it’s not. If you want serious, hard-hitting journalism, watch 7:30, Insiders or ABC News 24 or Four Corners. These are the shows where our pollies are held to account for their policy positions.

Kitchen Cabinet is something else entirely. It’s an attempt to defuse the ‘hate’ and polarity that has infused our political landscape. It’s also unashamedly entertaining. Is that so bad?

Australian politics has become toxic. Perhaps the politicians have only themselves to blame for that. Or perhaps the public been conditioned into holding polarised views of our pollies by an ever more desperate media, trying valiantly to cling to readers/viewers/listeners in the face of growing competition from new media.

Whatever it is, I fail to see the harm in a small show that attempts to put a human face on our pollies? What is wrong with trying to see the nuances that exist in these people? Maybe if we tried to understand each other a little more, then we could fight less and get more done.

You have to wonder – what’s really going on here? What’s the subtext of these critiques? Is Crabb being lambasted for somehow being a sell-out to the cause of feminism that demands certain behaviours of ‘serious’ women journalists? Have we decided a woman cannot be taken seriously if she’s funny AND smart AND cooks?

Annabel, don’t listen to the haters. I know you’re whip-smart. I know what you’re trying to do with this show. And I know that if we met, we’d probably be BFFs. Or I’d become your stalker. Whatever…


I am now a few thousand words into my WIP. A lot of what happens in the beginning centres around the events of a kid’s birthday party. Coincidentally, it was my 7 year old’s birthday (and party) last week which, while it took up way too much of my writing time, was sufficiently exciting (or difficult) enough to provide me with lots of writing inspiration.

I’m not sure what it is, but parties can bring out the absolute worst in children (and some adults) which makes them perfect fodder for fiction!

Oh, hang on. I did manage to write something about Richard Glover’s wonderful memoir, Flesh Wounds, which you can read here.

Have a great week. I’d love to know what you are reading/watching/writing?




  • Nicole Melanson
    Posted 16/11/2015 3:57 pm 0Likes

    I actually think we spend so much in The Book World that sometimes the buzz around a new release can overwhelm the sound of an author’s voice. I’ve always been more the sort of reader to find things serendipitously and if I’m not connecting with any of the new material that’s being talked about, I go and read something by Alice Hoffman or Anne Tyler or Nick Hornby – all of whom I already have on my shelf. I think the 3 of them are very confident in their style, they know how to tell a story, and can read them without feeling like I’m watching them write, if that makes any sense. I think sometimes you just need to find an author who freshens your palate.

      Posted 16/11/2015 4:22 pm 0Likes

      Hey Nicole. I’ve never read Nick Hornby but I have a feeling I would really like his writing.. The other problem I’m finding is that I’m probably not giving enough time to some of the novels I attempt. I read quite a lot through Kindle which, as you probably know, allows a free sample. But I think sometimes the samples are too short to really hook you. Or alternatively, it takes me a while to get into an author’s groove – and ‘get’ their voice. Cassie

      • Nicole Melanson
        Posted 16/11/2015 4:37 pm 0Likes

        I struggle to get into anything at the pointy end of the school year. My brain is rattling around inside my head with all the gifts, presentations, ceremonies, parties etc. x 7 – it gets a bit mental. What I usually do now is stockpile books and then binge-read through the whole summer holiday when I can really enjoy things instead of feeling like I’m just cramming in whatever I can. I think I read about 10 books last January alone!

  • Deborah
    Posted 17/11/2015 2:11 pm 0Likes

    I hadn’t seen the Kitchen Cabinet hate. I don’t really watch it but have no problem with it. I’ve seen a couple of episodes and it seems pretty harmless… but it does humanise politicians. To some extent.

    Keep it up on your WIP… I’m trying not to feel depressed as I read people’s NaNoWriMo stats!

      Posted 18/11/2015 9:10 am 0Likes

      I know what you mean about Nano! We’re two thirds of the way through November, and I think to myself – ‘Wow, I could have had 35,000 words by now.’ And then I think – ‘As if!’. It’s just not the way I write or live.. Cassie

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