‘Many readers judge the power of a book by the shock it gives their feelings.’ 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh: A Tale (1849) 

Literary News
Clunes Booktown Festival 

The 2022 Clunes Booktown Festival came back to life at last, running from April 30th to 1st May. Although numbers were a bit down on pre-pandemic years, at least the festival is thriving. This year’s program included a range of keynote speakers; including Don Watson, Chloe Hooper, Arnold Zable, Tony Birch, Sofie Laguna and Scott Ludlam.  

Also this year, Bill Collopy from CAE represented Book Groups on a discussion panel to a well-attended audience, alongside Shae Leighton, founder of the Tough Guy book club.  

Stella Prize  

The tenth annual Stella Prize was awarded on 28th April to First Nations author Evelyn Araluen, for her book Dropbear. Araluen is not the first Indigenous author to win. In 2018, the prize went to Alexis Wright for her biography of Aboriginal activist ‘Tracker’ Tilmouth. But this is a poetry book, in the first year that the prize has been open to works of poetry as well. 

12 Must-Read Political Books

With the Federal election just wrapping up, it brings politics to the forefront of the public consciousness and it's safe to say that the unruly world of politics makes for fascinating fodder. There is never a dull moment in politics!  

Read the Article
2022 Dialogue
The 2022 edition of Dialogue is available for digital download and hard copy with new additions to enjoy with your group.  
Download the Book Catalogue
May Giveaway

This month we have 2 x 2 reading selections to give away. 

New Animal, by Ella Baxter 

It’s not easy getting close to people. Amelia’s meeting a lot of men but once she gets the sex she wants from them, that’s it for her; she can’t connect further. A terrible thing happened to Daniel last year and it’s stuck inside Amelia ever since, making her stuck too. Maybe being a cosmetician at her family’s mortuary business isn’t the best job for a young woman. It’s not helping her social life. She loves her job, but she’s not great at much else. Especially emotion.

And then something happens to her mum and suddenly Amelia’s got too many feelings and the only thing that makes any sense to her is running away. It takes the intervention of her two fathers and some hilariously wrong encounters with other broken people in a struggling Tasmanian BDSM club to help her accept the truth she has been hiding from. And in a final, cataclysmic scene, we learn along with Amelia that you need to feel another person’s weight before you can feel your own. Deadpan, wise and heartbreakingly funny, New Animal is a stunning debut. 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 

Break the Internet, by Olivia Yallop 

This book takes a deep dive into the influencer industry, tracing its evolution from blogging and legacy social media such as Tumblr to today’s world in which YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok dominate. Surveying the new media landscape that the rise of online celebrity has created, it is an insider account of a trend which is set to dominate our future - experts estimate that the economy of influence will be valued at $24bn globally by 2025.

Olivia Yallop enrols in an influencer bootcamp, goes undercover at a fan meetup, and shadows online vloggers, Instagrammers, and content creators to understand how online personas are built, uncovering what it is really like to live a branded life and trade in a ‘social stock market'. From mumfluencers and activists to governments and investors, everyone wants to build their online influence. But how do you stay authentic in a system designed to commodify identity? Break the Internet examines both the dangers and the transformative potential of online culture.  

Thanks to Scribe   

The Cane, by Maryrose Cuskelly 

A missing girl. No suspects. A town about to ignite. Quala, a North Queensland sugar town, the 1970s. Barbara McClymont walks the cane fields searching for Janet, her sixteen-year-old daughter, who has been missing for weeks. The police have no leads. The people of Quala are divided by dread and distrust. But the sugar crush is underway and the cane must be burned.

Meanwhile, children dream of a malevolent presence, a schoolteacher yearns to escape, and history keeps returning to remind Quala that the past is always present. As the smoke rises and tensions come to a head, the dark heart of Quala will be revealed, affecting the lives of all those who dwell beyond the cane. The Cane is an evocative and atmospheric thriller, and announces an exciting new voice in Australian crime writing. 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 

The Beach Caves by Trevor Shearston 

It’s 1970, and young Annette Cooley is part of a small team working on an archaeological dig on the New South Wales south coast - a site that appears to prove that Aboriginal societies in the late Holocene were becoming less nomadic, even sedentary. The discovery is thrilling in its significance, and the atmosphere in the group is one of charged excitement. The team is led by a husband-and-wife pair, stars in their field, Aled Wray and Marilyn Herr, and working on their sites promises to be the making of Annette as an archaeologist.

On a new site, linked to the first, Annette starts to fall for a fellow student, Brian Harpur. But there are strange tensions and a hidden darkness within the group. Then one of their party mysteriously disappears. When police arrive, Annette makes a decision that will irrevocably mark her life, and Brian Harpur’s. Written in simple, beautiful prose, and with great depth and moral complexity, The Beach Caves is a powerful story about jealousy, guilt, the choices we make, and the different paths our lives could have taken - shadow paths, which nevertheless leave a trace.  

Thanks to Scribe 

Anyone is welcome to enter. To go in the draw, simply email us at competition@cae.edu.au and let us know your favourite books about extreme circumstances. Include your name and postal address. Entries close on Friday June 3rd. We will notify the winners and we may use their answers on social media. 

May Featured Book

This month’s feature book: Bereft by Chris Womersley [B2106] 

In 1919, Quinn Walker returns home from war, having fled his hometown as a teenager falsely accused of killing his younger sister. On his return, he remains both an outsider and a wanted man. He meets a young orphan girl, Sadie, who seems to know more about the crime and about Quinn than she should, and she encourages him to take justice into his own hands. 

Reaction to Bereft – from Camperdown, the Leura Literati 

"Every reader enjoyed the book. Some especially enjoyed the fact it had a different plot to other stories we'd read over the year. We found it interesting reading of the influenza pandemic during COVID and the parallel streams of misinformation."

Upcoming Classes

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