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The Female Face of War

By | Life | 2 Comments

“He’s afraid now that I will remember the wrong thing. That I will tell it not the way I’m supposed to,” says a woman in Svetlana Alexievich’s book about Soviet women’s experience of fighting in World War II, ‘War’s Unwomanly Face’. It applies to women’s experience of conflict and war everywhere, though: Once women stop being victims, and become combatants, physically, or psychologically, they are met with unease. Women are silenced on the topic of war, by men and women, and also by the traditions and genres of journalism, history and publishing. “We usually think of wars as something that men…

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Where are all the clever girls?

By | Life, Storytelling, Writing | No Comments

Last week I finally got to see Bruce Beresford’s new movie, Ladies in Black, based on the novel by Madeleine St John. Two hailstorms and a cyclone had previously stopped me, and I was beginning to think I wasn’t meant to go. But the skies cleared, I went, and I absolutely loved it – especially the idea that ‘there’s nothing so wonderful as a clever girl,’ which is said by one of the characters in the movie, and is a theme which is developed and celebrated. It also made me sad. Angourie Rice, who plays one of the clever girls in the movie – Lisa –…

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Undertow

By | Events, Screenwriting, Storytelling | No Comments

The contrast between writing a screenplay and writing a novel couldn’t be more heightened when it comes to seeing your finished work for the first time – in a crowded cinema in Byron Bay in the case of the short film I wrote – Undertow, instead of in the privacy of my study, where I usually first get to see one of my published books. The film is gripping, beautiful, and moving. US audiences think so too, with the film winning loads of prizes, including Best Drama and Best Narrative at the New York Film Festival in 2017. Jacqui Purvis,…

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Thumbs up to Mary – and Lilith

By | Life | No Comments

Mothers Day is complicated for me, because my son is non verbal, and has severe autism, and so a special occasion without presents for him, or cake, or a party, would have no meaning in his world. I’m very happy to make these things happen on days like Christmas, or his birthday, but not for myself. That would heighten the sense of the absurd that already hangs about ‘mothers day’ for me like the faint whiff of a chemical air freshener that I can’t quite separate from the perfume of fresh flowers. It’s manufactured to a certain extent, and then, on the other…

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The Outsiders

By | Life | 2 Comments

I’ve always felt like an outsider. I was born late, the last of my generation in my large extended family. I was too young to participate in my family’s life while it was all happening, and by the time I reached those milestones of family holidays and celebrations, I often as not did them with just my mother, or by myself. As I grew older I went to schools in other, far flung parts of Sydney – many long bus rides away. The inner city area we lived in – Glebe – was mainly a slum then, and I was…

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The review a writer dreams of …

By | Storytelling | No Comments

From The Weekend Australian, October 29th, 2016: Some novels owe their relevance to the moment in history defined by their theme and the actors who live the narrative. Others transcend time and place because of the universality of their argument, their characters and the landscape from which the narrative is drawn. Laura Bloom’s superb new novel, The Cleanskin, sits in the latter category and is destined to become a classic of its genre. Substitute the Northern Ireland sequences of this novel with any of today’s war-ravaged battlegrounds, and the secrets that haunt the protagonists could define almost any victim and perpetrator of past…

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I didn’t know I needed a Demitrius Graves

By | Friendship | 10 Comments

GUEST POST: It sounds strange to most people I know. How do you connect with a complete stranger online? Connect in a platonic soul reaching way? With a person two decades younger, male and from a different ethnic background? The internet strips you of all those things our minds are conditioned to separate us by; sex, race, age, socioeconomic … it’s just a made-up handle typing out words to another made-up handle. Maybe you can guess something about the other by the handle they made. Most times not. People create personas that are different from who they are forced to…

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Of pearls, beautiful young men and fine linen: an appreciation of Cheri.

By | Storytelling | 2 Comments

One of my favourite novels is Cheri, by the French author, Colette. It tells the story of a beautiful young man who is cossetted and spoiled by his mistress – in the dominating sense of that word – and lover, Léa, an older woman. The book opens in Léa’s boudoir, where she is dressing, and Chéri is lounging on her messy bed, naked except for a long string of Léa’s pearls. ‘Give them to me,’ he says, commanding, then pleading, then seductive. The pearls look beautiful on her, Léa reflects as she dresses, but they look even more beautiful on Chéri….

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Friendship, martial arts and Reality TV

By | Friendship | 7 Comments

 “Adults don’t want to watch other people having sex. They want to see someone getting told off in a store!” So said Ronnie from Watch What Crappens, the podcast I listen to after I’ve watched the latest episode of The Real Housewives of New York. Ben had just been theorising about why we love to watch them so: “Because they’re a big part of the population who are otherwise absent from popular culture, maybe?” He said. “Women from 40 – 60 of age with real and interesting lives?” Or, as my friend, the late, great Demetrius Graves said, women who are finally…

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