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My month started with reads from three female writers. Not by design, it just turned out that way. I tackled three TBRs: Convenience Store Woman had been beckoning to me for months and finally I turned on the Kindle and read it. What a strange story! From childhood Keiko has been different. Not normal, by anybody’s standards and in rigidly classified Japanese society there’s plenty of social pressure to conform. Having a lifelong career as a convenience store worker is socially unacceptable so Keiko succumbs to the pressure and forms a curious liaison with a man (and he’s horrendous; her judgement is not good!) but in the end, she’s happy to just be a Convenience Store Worker. The novel ended abruptly. But Japanese novels present many challenges as I have learnt over the years. Did I enjoy it? Yes, in a weird way. If you’re looking for something different, give it a try.
A friend gave me an unexpected gift, Name all the Animals by Alison Smith .
She enjoyed the notion that the book was apparently written by me! Pure coincidence, because the American memoir certainly could not have been more different to my Central African youth. The memoir turned out to be an intense account of the writer’s early life, the strong Catholic influences, her dilemma concerning her sexual identity and the seminal moment of her brother Roy’s early death, interspersed with passages detailing an ordinary life unfolding in Boston during the mid 1980s. I enjoyed the writing, which in places was superb. I don’t think I would have chosen to read the book, but it turned out to be an unusual read. Thanks for the prezzie, Sam . You introduced me to a memoir written in what is now called the “ Creative non-fiction” style.

I bought Carmen Maria Machado’s short story collection at our recent 2019 Open Book Festival, having read many enthusiastic reviews of her work. What a writer! Fearless and intelligent; strong lesbian themes. Wikipedia told me: short story author, essayist, and critic frequently published in The New Yorker, Granta, Lightspeed Magazine, and other publications. Her story collection Her Body and Other Parties was published in 2017. I was quite disappointed to discover she’s American born – I thought all that fiery passion had to be of Latin origin, say Brazil, but no. I can’t wait to read more.


I followed up the female writers with a blazing dose (literally: the description of an Australian bushfire is red hot) of down-under crime, written by a seasoned male journo. I seldom read crime, but this novel had me turning the pages at breakneck speed.

Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata. The loneliness and social pressures of being a non-conformist in modern Japanese society . Seriously weird and very intriguing.

Her Body and other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado. Debut Short Story collection. Unique, breathtaking prose; avoid this if you are not comfortable with lesbian themes .

Scrublands – Chris Hammer. Crackerjack Australian crime set during the terrible drought, where heat, greed and secrets explode. A page turner. Recommended.

An Obvious Fact – Craig Johnson. Another TBR – worth the wait! A great story, colourful characters, plenty of action, flashes of humour – you can’t beat a Walt Longmire story for a satisfying, enjoyable read.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton . A wildly complicated plot that was super confusing. 114 pages in, I’d had enough.

84K – Claire North. Although I’m a CN fan, this one just didn’t do it for me. Too bleak, too dystopian and 59 pages was enough for me.


Name all the Animals – Alison Smith; memoir. Vividly written American memoir, exploring grief, Catholic upbringing, and pubescent sexuality en route. An unusual read.


JUNKYARD DOGS – Craig Johnson




I make no apologies whatsoever for being a die hard Walt Longmire fan. Any book that Craig Johnson writes about Longmire, is a hit with me. The current read being no exception.
I enjoy Johnson’s ability to make you feel the freezing wind, snowdrifts, and general winteriness of the high plains of Wyoming. In Johnson’s Longmire stories, the weather is as much as character in the unfolding tale, as are the actual people and circumstances.

Johnson writes with a dry humour, aided by a deft turn of phrase. His Western stories are bang up to date with all the trappings of modern life: cellphones, TVs, big SUVs, casinos, property developers, marijuana farms – the whole nine yards buried under two feet of snow and zero visibility most of the time.

Walt Longmire doggedly ploughs through the snowdrifts, despite injuries that would cause a lesser man to take two week’s sick-leave, he just keeps on doing his job. Oh that we had more Walt Longmires in this world, and more particularly, in South Africa where I live.

Another happy feature of Johnson’s Longmire novels is that his characters are well-rounded, their personal quirks deftly conveyed in the odd phrase here and there, the throwaway line of dialogue that speaks volumes. Longmire, for instance, buys a lady a house, as a Valentine’s Day gift – she has no idea that he’s done so, but it affords him quiet satisfaction. Beneath that laconic exterior, lurks a tender heart.

I have one last novel tucked away in my TBR pile, a treat in store. I’m keeping it for the time when I need a really good, engrossing, entertaining read. I know I won ‘t be disappointed.





Wildebeeste migrate, lemmings leap off cliffs and I rush madly to Book Sales. The irresistible urge is imprinted in my DNA, I swear! Can’t stop myself. And this weekend, I’m so glad I succumbed to the urge.

A group of Cape Town Book Sellers rented two floors of exhibition space at the V & A Waterfront and gave us, the book reading, book buying public a huge treat: The Cape Town Book Sale.  Yes folks: a real, genuine book sale. Brand new stock, no mangled remainders. Just books, glorious books, in every direction. There must have been literally thousands of them. You name it, the books were there. Kids’ books, cookery books, coffee table books, contemporary novels, literary novels, blockbusters, thrillers, biographies – I think the last time I saw so many books on sale was in the magnificent Kinokunia Bookstore in Sydney. And I have to confess that 14 years later,  I still have orgasmic dreams about that Aladdin’s cave of delights ….

The prices were jaw-droppingly brilliant: R50 for a paperback; R70 for a hardback. Normally we have to grudgingly part with between R200 and R300 to buy a paperback novel. And don’t talk to me about hardcovers. Shudder.

I was almost #1 through the doors, sprinting briskly towards the far end to work my way systematically backwards through the heaving hordes. Because I’m little I need to avoid crowds. I tend to get trodden on. South Africa is full of braai en boerewors* stalwart men (and women, too I must add, in all fairness).

After two and a half hours I staggered triumphantly back to my car, clutching two modern novels, and five Craig Johnson Longmire novels for the modest total of R350-00. Unheard of : R350 is often the price of one book, never mind seven! Reader’s Victory of note!

The novels have long been on my Wishlist. I’ve wanted to explore Portuguese writer Clarice Lispector, and found one of her novels. Recently I read Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life so I snapped up her first book The People in the Trees. And the cowboy books? I can see your raised eyebrows from here. Well – I grew up on black and white spaghetti Westerns and Zane Grey: what can I say? I told you in my About Page that I have eclectic reading tastes. Now do you believe me?

So: don’t phone, text or e-mail me for a while. It’s obvious – I’ll be reading!

*barbecues and spicy sausages20170617_121122.jpg