Good Reading : July 2008
Dreamland Tom Gilling Nick Carmody, a crime reporter for a Sydney newspaper, makes the mistake of accepting money to take the blame for a driving offence committed by an old school friend. Nick stands up in court and swears that he was driving the speeding car shown in the photo taken by a traffic camera, unaware that his friend had also been involved in a hit-and-run accident on the same night.The friend dies in suspicious circumstances and Nick panics, seeing no way to avoid jail. An opportunity arises to assume the identity of another man and Nick seizes it. His life then becomes an unrelenting succession of lies and the consequences are more severe than he could have imagined. Tom Gilling, is known for two previous literary novels, Miles McGinty and The Sooterkin. Dreamland is a more difficult book to classify. It has some of the elements of a good thriller – plot twists and surprising coincidences – but the book fails to find the right length or depth. The clues never quite tie up so that the ending arrives about 60 pages too early. My impression was of a book handed in for a deadline before it was ready, and then edited by someone who didn’t follow the plot closely enough. ★★★ Text Publishing $32.95 Reviewed by Raoul Slater The Night of the Mi’raj Zöe Ferraris Ididn’t want to read The Night of the Mi’raj. Something about its title screamed ‘boring and earnest!’ to me. But deadline loomed and reluctantly I put aside the latest Marian Keyes and started to read Mi’raj. Little did I know it would contain a thrilling detective story while it described – in captivating detail – life in the segregated kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I learnt so much. I had known, for example, that women aren’t legally allowed to drive in that country, but until reading this book I hadn’t thought about the implications for them. I didn’t know that many women choose a husband based on how well they get along with his sisters and mother. I didn’t know that, in the hottest country on earth, the rich prove their status by buying winter coats at markets, just for show. Zöe Ferraris – who has lived in Jeddah, married to a Saudi – captures the mood of the country and the subtle and incremental changes afoot with her vivid, sympathetic characters. By the end of the novel I was in love with Nayir, the pious Muslim amateur detective in the Columbo coat, and fervently hoping I’d see more of him in novels to come. Ferraris does trip on rather large plot holes and convenient discoveries, but she soars when describing her characters and relationships. This is an original novel. ★★★★ Little, Brown $32.99 Reviewed by Sarah Minns www.textpublishing.com.au New Fiction From TEXT PUBLISHING RRP $34.95 ‘Beautifully written, strangely beguiling and hard to let go of.’ Joanna Murray- Smith A story about women and the masks they wear; about unexpected encounters, affairs and betrayals, and the dangerous ity of marriage. RRP $29.95 RRP $32.95 From the best- selling author of Eucalyptus A novel about friendship and love, men and women, philosophy and thought by one of Australia’s greatest novelists. ‘A novel about the things that matter—love, loss, courage.’ Carrie Tiffany A woman wakes from a coma, its cause unknown. She refuses to see her family; she does not say why. Slowly, almost reluctantly, she becomes stronger. Now she will walk. Where?