Monday, February 12, 2018

Eon, Illustrated Adventures in Time -by Aviva Reed - REVIEW

Eon, Illustrated Adventures in Time
By Aviva Reed

Review by Rachel Edwards

Eon is an exquisite word, three beautiful letters combined to precisely describe time which is otherwise beyond our abilities to comprehend, or ‘a measure of geological time: an indefinitely long period; forever”.
And this is a beautiful book. Subtitled ‘the story of fossils,’ it is a large hardcover that roams through the formation of the planet and subsequent arrival of many forms of life, right down to us humans, right at the very end of eons and eons of life and changes to this planet.
The illustrations in this exceptional book are one of the aspects that really make it book sing. They are hand drawn and painted by the author, with an element of collage about them as well. Illustrated in earthy, muted colours the rich drawings convey an element of what was changing as the earth aged and moved throughout the different eras.
A mere double spread of pages is dedicated to each major period in the earth’s history; Triassic 251– 200 million years ago, Ordovician/Silurian 488 – 418 million years ago, Archaen, 5 billion years ago, Neogene, 23 million years – 5000 years ago, you get the picture. For each of these periods the author has written a few words, in a delicately rhyming verse and one that has mostly dodged the bullet of cloying. For example, the page of Paleogene, 65 – 23 million years ago begins “On cooling Earth, creatures with wombs who could hide survived, and plants with blooms and grasses thrived”. The rhyme makes it perfect to read to children, and even as an adult reading the rhyme provides the warming repetitive nature of a drum beat – a strange comfort. It is not oversimplified.
The book, while perfect for children by dint of its accessible language is such a beauty that it will also appeal to adult readers. Also, considering that it tackles such a massive subject, one that often seems arcane and simply too big to get a grasp of, it provides a simplified, broken down yet in no way condescending account of how the planet was formed. It also shows humans for the flash-in-the-pan beings we are, within the entire geological time frame of the planet.
At the end of the book the author provides the information in a different manner; a straightforward timeline that begins five billion years ago, the Age of Molecules and finishes two million years ago during the Age of Diverse Life. To see the planet quantified in this manner, showing as it does life on land ‘arriving’ more recently than 500 years ago, and humans even more recently is another effective way to convey this scientific information without appearing didactic. There is also a glossary for those inclined to deepen their knowledge
This is a book that bridges an art/science divide with ease and beauty. It conveys an epic amount of information, covering millions of years, as well as being an object that is beautiful to behold – and to hold.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Into the World by Stephanie Parkyn - REVIEW

Into the World by Stephanie Parkyn
By Rachel Edwards

Into the World by Stephanie Parkyn is a rich historical novel that tells the true story of Marie Louise Giradin, a woman who, disguised as a man sailed aboard the Recherche in the late 1700s and is likely the first white woman to step foot on the island now known as Tasmania.
Louis Giradin, as she becomes known, flees a France that is caught in the grip of revolution, and she is also forced to leave behind a baby son. The novel is faithful to the passage of the vessel, which was accompanied by the Esperance and was operating under instruction both to find La Perouse, whose expedition was seemingly lost – as well as to conduct scientific research. These two competing goals provide a clear point of tension in the novel, and the characters of the military command of the vessel and the increasingly eccentric behaviour of the scientists aboard juxtapose each other well. Parkyn has a background in science (she trained as a freshwater ecologist) and the attention paid to the scientific knowledge and practice of the time is sensitive and genuinely engaging.
The French explorers on board – both scientific and military have their names are intertwined in our Tasmanian history, D’entrecastreaux, Kermandec, and Labillardiere amongst them. One of the strengths of this well written novel, is the development of the characters. The story is told from Giradin’s point of view, which offers a rare historical perspective from a woman. The scientists, captains and crew mates are all fleshed out and given voices and identifying characteristics, Labillardiere the scientist who reveals himself as difficult and driven in particular. It is fascinating, given the proximity in part to these men’s and this woman’s story that we have in Tasmania, to read them as real human beings, not just names of bays and headlands and seascapes.
What Giradin had been involved with in France to cause her to flee the country is one of the many compelling parts that drives this story. The revelation that she had grown up outside the wall of Versaille -  her father worked as a gardener there - and her involvement with the nascent revolution are fascinating counterpoints to the journey on the sea and what was involved in her role, as the ship’s steward, as well as what she had to do to keep herself disguised.
This is a book that tells of a significant moment in this history of the island we now call Tasmania, as well as a significant moment internationally: the French revolution, scientific discovery and research as well. It is a well told tale of a fascinating woman and an intriguing and sometimes terrifying journey on the sea. Stephanie Parkyn is to be congratulated on her first novel, one which is sure to find a wide, and satisfied audience. 

A version of this review was published in TasWeekends, January 2018. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Paige Turner - February

A Silent Reading Party is nigh on my favourite type of party and I’m delighted that Transportation Press and Island magazine are hosting their first one at Quartermasters Arms in Hobart on February 7 at 6pm. Simple. Bring a book (the library’s open until just before we start and we will have some books on hand too), buy a drink and a snack, read silently. No chatting. This will tease some reading wheat from chatting chaff. See you there my darlings!

Reading for the Revolution is another excellent idea launching in Hobart this month. This is a group that will discuss readings that can change the world. The first session is happening on February 12 at 7.30am at the Food Store in Macquarie Street in Hobart and will discuss writing from Stan Grant, Ursula Le Guin’s National Book Award speech and more. Drop me a line and I can pop you in touch with the organiser for more information. This is a beautiful and inclusive event, no need to contribute to discussion, you can simply be there to listen. It is organised by Millie Rooney, who actively works for the betterment of the world.

New Philosopher and Womankind, along with Island and Poet Store are presenting the third iteration of Bright Thinking on February 15 at the Salamanca Arts Centre. The discussion will be around Nature and Climate. This is a free event and doors open at 6.45pm. While we’re still on an Island note, keep an eye out for the upcoming issue (late February) in which I am most looking forward to reading an extract from Tasmanian writer, Robbie Arnott’s upcoming novel Flames.

The prolific and adored playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer has decided to convert on of his plays into a picture book. Artshub said of the play, The Girl Laughs that it ‘follows in the best tradition of fairytales through the ages – an engagingly told yarn for the children of today, with lessons for adults also,’ and nine year old Luca said ‘somewhere between hilarious and human,' in Big Kids Magazine. Seek it out on Amazon online.

Vibrance Festival returns this month and on Sunday 25th there will be a Thylazine fair with some local and interstate zines for ‘saaaaaale’. 12-4pm with more information available on the Vibrance Facebook page.

Seasonal Poets is back at 6pm on 19 February at Hadleys in Hobart. The poets reading are Helen Swain, Lyn Reeves and Cameron Hindrum.

Jacqui Lambie is one of Tasmania’s more colourful politician and her memoir is set to be published in February. The Tamar Valley Writers Festival which is coming up in September this year (mark your diaries, this has been a glorious event in past years) is hosting the Launceston launch in partnership with Petrarchs and publisher Allen and Unwin. For more information, head over the Tamar Valley Writers FestivalFacebook page.

Forty South is running its annual short story competition. Entries for The Tasmanian Writers' Prize 2018 close on February 18. Visit to download your entry form. 

The Tasmanian Society of Editors will conduct a session on the arcane and challenging aspects of copyright. Taking place on February 15 at 7pm at the Rosny LINC it will cover subjects like expiration of copyright, moral rights and how to ascertain if something is subject to copyright. Contact the society directly for more details (though I can tell you that it is $10 for a member and $15 for a non member).
Making Books, Making Readers is three workshops hosted by the delightful Victoria Ryle, founder of Kids’ Own Publishing. These workshops are designed to be relaxed and hands-on and are designed for artists, writers, educators and parents to explore simple approaches to creating and publishing books with, by and for children & young people. For more information including dates and costs, click here.

Fullers has a busy event calendar for February, hosting the launch of Farewell my French Love by Nadine Williams on February 7 and on February 8 (my Mum’s birthday, Happy Birthday Mum) the inimitable Christopher Lawrence from ABC RN will launch his book Symphony of Seduction.

On March 1st GetUp! founder, Simon Sheikh will launch an exciting new book called The Rich Greenie (pictured) by Stuart Barry. This is an ethical Barefoot Investor, with clear guidance about how to grow your wealth, while living a wise life, stepping gently on our earth.
Keep an eye out for the Tasmania based dynamo Polly McGee’s recently released The Good Hustle, creating a happy, healthy business with heart, and also keep your eyes peeled for long term forest activist/saviour and exquisite artist, Aviva Reed’s Eon, The Story of Fossils.

Poet Jeremy Limn has released a collection of lyrics, poems and love ballads.
The Auguries of Lost Lilacs. The book is based on the myth of love through poetry.

If you have any story or book related news, I’d love to hear from you –

Paige Turner November

  Edging towards the end of the year and towards summer, towards Christmas and all it allows us to manifest. Good luck and good sleeps to ...