Sally Piper’s Bone Memories is a contemplative and immersive novel about grief and connection: to others, to the body, and significantly to place. Sixteen years after the unsolved murder of Jess in a Brisbane bushland, her family are living in its shadow. Like a ringbarked tree, her mother Billie is marked from that moment, trapped in an emotional stasis while the murder remains unsolved. Billie’s grandson, Daniel, himself a witness to his mother’s death at just three years of age, now 19, imagines a life beyond his trauma. Dogged Billie keeps drawing him back, forcing him to relive the incident hoping his memories hold the key to unmasking the perpetrator. Meanwhile, Daniel’s stepmother, Carla, wants to sell the home the others once shared with Jess, and struggles to understand why they can’t all just move on.
Bone Memories is an authentic portrayal of family dynamics, intensified by insurmountable grief. It also examines the way violent crime is sensationalised and its victims dehumanised by both the media and the public. This beautifully written work demonstrates Piper’s intimate knowledge and love of nature, and challenges the reader to reflect on our relationship to place, our impact on the environment, and its impact on us.
I’ve been travelling lately, and The Couple Upstairs by Holly Wainwright is the perfect holiday read. It had me hooked from the beginning.
Two women’s storylines weave together during a hot summer in an apartment building in Coogee, Sydney. British expat Mel has two young kids and is freshly divorced when a newly moves in upstairs, who looks (and acts) eerily familiar to an ex-lover from two decades ago. This is enhanced when his new girlfriend Lori moves in, a twenty-something backpacker from England who starts babysitting Mel’s kids downstairs.
There’s some great themes of youth vs ageing, freedom vs responsibility, selfishness, narcissism and the many faces of domestic violence, but most of all it’s an addictive page-turner that I recommend if you’re looking for a fun read that keeps you guessing.
Isaac Wilcox, Administration and Digital Services Officer
This is an essay about studying moss. Did your heart do a backflip?
Well, it should, because this essay is incredible. It’s got scientists, military aircraft, cute penguins and offers a glimpse of the edge of human knowledge and endurance. It made me want to drop everything and go to the Antarctic and study moss. And that’s just what Sharon Robinson and her colleague Jane Wasley have done for twenty-five years.
We hear about the expeditions they make in detail. It’s everything you might imagine, the community on the research station is warm and supportive of each other, the physical conditions are tough and extreme, the work engrossing and time consuming. Interestingly the biggest endurance is one that may not have surprised a Shackleton or Amundsen, bureaucracy and funding. It’s been achingly difficult to conduct twenty-five years of consistent research as funding streams dry up, dry up and disappear like the moss and the ice.
I’d not until now reflected on how much of what we feel about the Antarctic comes from writing, and from the writings of studious and observant people. Diligent people, supporting one another and recognising the importance of collaboration and cohesion. A perfect community. I’d also not reflected on how in Antarctic writing, atmospheric conditions and human action are so closely intertwined, thrown into extreme relief. One is impossible without the other.