- Mr Invincible — Pascal Jousselin — (comic) both wildly unlike Memento, and yet very like it in that I couldn’t read stories properly for a while afterwards, and started to resent the fourth wall.
- The Family Tomb — Michael Gilbert — murder and intrigue in Florence in the 1960s, and for some reason I do enjoy stories of British expats being flamboyantly awful.
- The Swimmers — Marion Womack — I’m used to books doing direct rewrites of their inspiration, and it was refreshing to read a book that took an influence (Wide Sargasso Sea) and simply ran with the elements and flavours that intrigued the writer, rather than attempting any sort of correlation.
- The Black Moth — Georgette Heyer — I have a friend who talks about “historical smugness” in historical TV shows, e.g. “the issue of the week and how we would have handled it better now”. Heyer’s early Georgian novels sort of do the opposite — pick up the social mores which didn’t stand the test of time and then lean into them. Usually leads to vigorous bookclub fights.
- A School for Unusual Girls — Kathleen Baldwin — Apparently I’m about to start on a Regency fantasy-romance kick again.
- Death of a Ghost — Margery Allingham — I also like murder mysteries in which the writer has clearly been personally victimised by dramatic bohemian types
- Fun Home — Alison Bechdel — A classic for a reason, and yet somehow I hadn’t read the whole book before (also the stage musical is magnificent, unexpected, and somehow implausibly inevitable).
- Elmer — Gerry Alanguilian — (comic) Still a bit stunned, but my goodness, the clouds
- Newt’s Emerald — Garth Nix — Luminous green magic!
Movies and theatre (I’m in Queensland, it was safe and legal)
- King Kong vs Godzilla — in Gold Class, because where else
- Come From Away (at QPAC) — I cried through most of it and it took ages for my mask to dry afterwards.
- “Creatures” — Shaun Tan (Beinart Gallery) — the lines, the paint, the eyes… Shaun is a magnificent artist, illustrator, and writer, and getting to just stand close and look at the texture is a treasure
- “She-Oaks and Sunlight: Australian Impressionism” — (NGV) — A wonderful exhibition, and a chance to see many favourites (Tom Roberts, in particular, influenced what I was trying to do with descriptions in Flyaway). Seeing them all in one place was illuminating. In some rooms, there were pictures that seemed backlit, shining off the walls, so I was puzzling over that. I worked out, too, that while I generally prefer paintings of green landscapes, that does not hold true for Impressionism, where my heart gets pulled out of my chest by dust and light, yellows and ochres and luminous flickering violets. And of course I reinforced my love for the smallest, sketchiest of paintings, where one or two dabs of paint are a bolting horse, or a girl holding her hat down, or the tiniest dog in a patch of sunlight — see, for example, Allegro con brio.