Witty, poetic, beautifully written: Australia’s best books out in July | Australian books


We Come With This Place by Debra Dank

Memory, Echo Publishing, $29.99, paperback

The warm and poetic memoirs of Debra Dank invite you to another place and another time. A Gudanji/Wakaja writer and educator, Dank writes vividly not only about her own life in and out of the country, but also about her family, their ceremonies and their stories, dating back to the beginning. She takes us, for example, to a cave in Garranjini in the Northern Territory, whose walls have been painted by generations of Gudanji women to show future grandchildren where the water is. Dank’s grandmother finds this cave while fleeing colonization; decades later, Dank’s children come to touch the marks, which they now wear tattooed on their skin.

How would you feel if so much history and future tied you to your country? We Come With This Place is an act of generosity, which should not be taken for granted. –Steph Harmon

Do as I say by Sarah Steel

true crime, Pan Macmillan, $34.99, paperback

Do as I say by Sarah Steel

If you’re a fan of Steel’s popular Let’s Talk Cults podcast, you’ll love his first book, which expands on the show’s premise about why people end up in cults. It avoids the well-trodden path of true crime – rehashing the most sinister stories – and is instead structured around the common elements in the testimonies of survivors. The survivors tell Steel about leaking bands like Gloriavale, Zendik Farm, The Welcomed Consensus, and Chung Moo Quan. One survivor, Russell, thought the latter was a regular martial arts school and nearly lost both of his arms during his time there.

Steel pulls together an interesting and potentially useful list of red flag behaviors – from manipulative language and isolation, to “love bombing” and sleep deprivation – that are used to coerce and manipulate even the most cautious of us. . – Sian Cain

The Family Meal Solution by One-Handed Cooks

Kitchen, Penguin Australia, $39.99, paperback

The Family Meal Solution by One-Handed Cooks

The writer, dietician and teacher (Allie Gaunt, Jessica Beaton and Sarah Buckle respectively) behind One Handed Cooks have not written a cookbook with the Family Meal Solution. While there are plenty of kid-friendly recipes with swaps and suggestions for picky eaters, vegetarians and people with allergies, what they’ve developed is actually a rigorous food preparation and pantry management system aimed at save money, reduce waste and sometimes save time. While the charts, tables, and emphasis on forward planning may seem overwhelming to follow in their entirety, even those who embrace the chaos will benefit from this book’s selection tips. Although I’m psychologically incapable of becoming a meal prep, I’ve started implementing some of their hacks – and I don’t even have kids. – Alyx Gorman

Denizen by James McKenzie Watson

Fiction, Viking, $32.99, paperback

Denizen by James McKenzie Watson

There’s nothing scarier than a weird kid, and McKenzie Watson – a day nurse – writes them particularly well. This is his first novel after winning the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize and a few pages into Denizen you can see why he won.

Parker, nine, is prone to temper tantrums and outbursts of violence; he decided early on that “something in my brain was broken”. He is cold and cruel to the other children, and his “emotional joust” with his mother turns into oppressive mind games. “One day, she told him, you will have a child. And when you do, I hope they destroy you like you destroyed me.

As he gets older, Parker is haunted by his behavior; When he decides to return to the small NSW town where he grew up for a reunion with friends, it becomes apparent how haunted he is. The second half is weaker than the remarkable and horror-scarred start, but Denizen is well worth your time. – SC

All That: A Bogan Rhapsody by Cadance Bell

Memory, Penguin, $34.99, paperback

The Whole: A Bogan Rhapsody by Cadance Bell

Growing up in Mudgee, NSW, Bell knew from an early age that she was transgender, but didn’t find the language that captured her identity until adulthood. Her funny and often moving memoir, full of laughter, recalls a bustling childhood in a country town, navigating restrictive gender norms and going through puberty while surreptitiously trying on her mother’s bras and buying Dolly magazine at Bi-Lo. In her twenties, she survived depression and dysphoria, before discovering trans communities online, finding both happiness and love. Bell is witty and outspoken, and I expect we’ll be reading a lot more of her. If you liked Patricia Lockwood’s Priestdaddy, you’ll love this one too. – CS

Paul Daley’s Jesustown

Fiction, Allen & Unwin, $32.99, paperback

Paul Daley's Jesustown

From its first pages, Jesustown promises the irresistible allure of personal drama: a terrible tragedy, a media scandal and a broken marriage, all tied in a messy knot. But the novel quickly widens and deepens as the self-loathing central character, Patrick Renmark, whose reputation as a dubious historian precedes him, flees London to the titular destination, a remote former native mission in the north. from Australia. Here he is faced with uncomfortable memories of his past and the complex task of sifting through – and writing about – his grandfather’s legacy as the town’s would-be white savior. Daley’s prodigious nonfiction work on colonial violence and Indigenous dispossession informs the novel as it grapples with themes of shame, redemption, intergenerational trauma, and the question of who gets to write the story. ‘story. It is a sensitive and in-depth exploration, beautifully written. –Lucy Clark

What the fuck by Celeste Mountjoy

Graphic novel (non-fiction), Pan Macmillan, $32.99, hardcover

What the fuck by Celeste Mountjoy

Of all the terrible aesthetic trends that have proliferated over the last decade – pastel pink, marble furniture, Kinfolk – the line drawing trend might be the worst: abstract black-and-white scribbles of faces, bodies and flowers everywhere subjecting millennial living rooms to their aridity. artistic vision. Above the fray rose Celeste Mountjoy, whose viral illustrations as a teenager under the name @filthyratbag overturned the doodles of her contemporaries: ever smarter, twistier and – yes – dirtier.

Now 22, she has released her first book, a sprawling graphic autobiography where nothing is certain: teenage delusions, online dating, crushing anxiety and pulverizing grief. Mountjoy casts his deeply sardonic, often self-effacing and always hilarious eye over each mishap until they melt into a soup of existential fatigue – an accurate description of what it’s like to exist on the internet, and more broadly. , to exist in a constant state of cataclysm. – Michael Sun

Holy Woman by Louise Omer

Memory, Scribe, paperback, $29.99

Holy Woman by Louise Omer
Photography: PR

As a teenager in an agnostic home, Omer surprised her family when she dove headlong into Pentecostalism, joining a church in suburban Adelaide. Welcomed by the community, she rose through the ranks to become a preacher and marry another believer. By her early twenties, the marriage was over; Disillusioned with what religion had taught her about the place of women, Omer went on a pilgrimage to find a feminist religion, visiting Mexican basilicas, a Swedish branch of Hillsong, and Moroccan mosques.

But what could have been an Eat Pray Love-style travelogue is furiously satisfying (and beautifully written), as Omer realizes the error in his premise: monotheistic religions are inherently patriarchal and will never be feminist in the practice. The interesting and intelligent women Omer meets interpret scripture to carve out spaces for themselves – but always in the face of great opposition and threat. – SC


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