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the sound

You’ll notice my sidebar to the left <<< has a new image, of Sarah Drummond’s beautiful novel that came out this year, The Sound. It’s a book that should be read widely, get mentioned in the awards (maybe win some, fingers crossed) and one that I really loved this year in a year when I didn’t love a lot. I also loved Sarah’s first book Salt Story which was published a couple of years ago. Salt Story would make a great pressie for anybody interested in fishing, boats, nature, sustainability of the fishing industry out west, but also for people with absolutely NO interest in any of these things. For people who love beautiful, simple prose, a bit of humour, salty characters and like reading about things – it almost doesn’t matter what – as long as it’s written well. You know, the way people seem to feel about Helen Garner’s writing. I wrote a tiny not-review on this blog about The Sound earlier this year, and this is what I said then:

Finished the last few pages in bed last night. … I paced myself with this book because it’s a dark look at the history of Maori and Australian indigenous people ‘working’ with colonial sealers in the west of Australia. I use the quotation marks because working sometimes meant enslaved, forced, used, stole, abused, violated and terrorised. The prose is beautiful, you learn history at the same time, but it’s not overloaded with it. I was entirely satisfied with the ending as well, another reason why I think I was stalling. Another brilliant book from the wild west fisherwoman.

 

Another Australian novel I liked this year was Sam Carmody’s The Windy Season, a really good debut.

My final mention is for a novel I ADORED this year, and it’s Myf Jones’s LEAP. I wrote about it on goodreads I think, let me find it…

Here it is. True to form, it’s rambling and gushy:

*** UPDATE BELOW *** I’m cogitating on my response but you can see how much I loved it from the stars. Not often I give someone I know 5 stars – it doesn’t seem the done thing for Aus writers to give Aus writers 5. But I’m not gonna beat around the bush with this one. I think it’s absolutely brilliant. Stay tuned for more.

*** Well, here is the more I promised above. Here are my notes for this book, some of the things I wrote down while reading. It’s not a review because no time, but my impressions. BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Pliers to turn stove on – we did the same when I was a kid, but it was the television knob that had come off

The complexities of young sexuality, the intimacy between Joe and Jen, there is so much in this book. So deft the reveal of grieving parent and Joe’s grief and guilt. Mates Sanjay and Jack are well-formed characters; Sanjay with his beautiful teeth and his tender care for Joe. We don’t often see tenderness in male friendships. We need more of it, and boys and men need to read more of it too.

I am scared for Joe half way through.

There are so many threads to enjoy in this novel but I never feel overwhelmed as if too much has been stuffed in.

This is a deeply literary book… Leap is a perfect title I think.

So much truth in everything including the things I’ve never experienced, eg page159 you realise or it’s confirmed because you’ve suspected that Joe is going to make a jump. “The jump is pressing up in him” amazing and true and deep.

P 166 just beautiful writing amazing

It’s about art too, the painting of the Tigers, and Elise makes bread but the starter on p 167 is “more dead than alive” such beautiful symbolism as Elise is more dead than alive as well. So sad. The question is I don’t know what will happen, nothing is predictable, but there is no sense of the tricksy here, I am not being manipulated, I am fully immersed and with the characters in the story.

And noticed on p172 that he calls the nurse ‘the nurse’ not by name. Will he ever ? She is at a distance – unnamed – even reminding him of Jen? She is mysterious but so subtly drawn and layered in.

It’s a resonant depiction of the poignant time of turning and becoming, when boys are changing into men. There’s Sanjay with his girlfriend and Jack with the law… Joe has done so well to stop drinking and stay alive you can feel the strength there, and the effort, but there is still an aura of risk about him, slipping, there is a cross-roads psychologically for him, and maybe it will play out in a physical sense too.

I am left with the feeling that for Elise and Joe to heal they need to meet, they need each other so they can move on and perhaps they are moving in that direction.

It’s months since I finished LEAP and it is staying with me, and has become part of my imagination now. It’s a beautiful novel, highly recommended, and while the cover might suggest something light and in the vein of popular fiction, it’s a literary novel that crosses over easily for commercial readers as well. Fantastic book.

UP NEXT: Saturday will be my final four Saturdays in a row not-review, for Ian McEwan’s NUTSHELL.

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