Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Review: In Two Minds by Gordon Parker

In Two Minds is a detailed and sympathetic account of one man's journey through mental illness, written by renowned psychiatrist Gordon Parker. Martin Homer, known as Sunny to his friends, has a naturally cheerful disposition, despite suffering two great losses during his childhood. He has a good life. Martin is a medical practitioner working and living in Sydney's north shore. His marriage to Sarah is a happy one, though they are childless after a number of failed IVF attempts. However, the death of Martin's mother sends him into a deep depression, which then turns into a period of mania. During this period, Martin encounters Bella, a hurt woman with some pretty serious issues of her own. What happens next has far reaching consequences for them both ...

Although this novel was a little slow in places, there is no doubt that it was written by someone who was an expert in treating mental illness. The author creates a sympathetic picture of Martin, even in the passages when his mania caused him to behave quite badly. Bella was a far more difficult character to digest--she is portrayed as someone who is manipulative and behaves without conscience, yet it is also clear that she has been damaged by her past and has a desperate need to be loved by someone. The description "borderline" is thrown around quite a bit, and other bits and pieces in the narrative point toward Borderline Personality Disorder. I did find parts of the novel quite sexist (the chapter featuring the Trophettes, a support/empowerment group for trophy wives, for example.) That said, the novel is commendable for it's portrayal of Martin. He's 100% human, with a real sense of right and wrong, who behaves the way he does because he is ill, and not because he had any intention to hurt Bella or his wife.

A compelling read for anyone interested in reading about the human side of mental illness. Recommended. 

Thank you to Ventura Press for my review copy. 

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2017

Monday, 27 March 2017

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

Welcome to a slightly revised format of Around Adelaide. As my Instagram Account seems to be getting bigger and better by the day, I thought that it would be fun to start sharing the best images on here. There will still be lots and lots of street art, and the pictures will remain proudly Adelaide centric, but the changes also mean that I can share some other great pictures here too.

First up is a snap of this gorgeous coffee cup that I got from the food tent at Adelaide Writers' Week. Such a beautiful design and such a great idea to feature work by a local artist, instead of serving coffee from a plain cup, or one covered in advertising. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Friday Funnies: I am not Buying Any More Books ...

Gulp. I am so guilty of this.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella's latest novel offers a fun--and frivolous--take on the difficulties that many women in their early twenties face when trying to start out in the corporate world. Katie Brenner feels a bit insecure about the way her life has worked out. Sure, she's living in London and has a job at a prestigious marketing firm, but the commute to work is hell every day and she makes very little money for the hard work that she puts in. Worse still, her boss, Demeter, is a total nightmare. Demeter is cool, selfish and rarely recognises anyone else's efforts. Katie is eventually sacked (through no fault of her own,) and finds herself returning to her family home in the UK, where her father and stepmother have turned the old family farm into a successful camping business. And when Demeter arrives at the farm as a guest and does not even recognise her former employee, Katie seizes the opportunity to get revenge. But not everything is as it seems ...

This one was a fun read, though it did not stack up to the high standard set by some of Kinsella's previous works (The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic, Finding Audrey.) The romance with Alex felt a little tacked on in a number of ways. The best part of the novel in my opinion was the authors portrayal of Demeter--slowly, we readers get to learn that yes she is someone with a heart, and a lot of depth, someone who makes mistakes and who perhaps does not speak up when she should. And Demeter certainly faces her own challenges in the workplace. Katie's revenge and eventual growth as a character was fun to read.

A fun read for fans of Sophie Kinsella.

PS Big shout out to my friend Kylie for gifting me with a copy of My Not So Perfect Life!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Friday Funnies: Clarabelle Cow Memes

I am sharing this one for to express my complete and udder, sorry, utter amazement that anyone would create a meme that features Clarabelle Cow. As far as Disney characters go, Clarabelle Cow is a fairly minor character. She was created by Walt Disney in 1928 and is friends with Mickey and Minnie, and is the occasional love interest of Horace Horsecollar, and less often the love interest of Goofy, thus proving that interspecies dating is not a big deal in the Disney universe. Clarabelle appeared as a minor character in a number of animated shorts during the 1930s, and these days appears as Goofy's love interest in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series. Surprisingly, Clarabelle is an extremely popular character in parts of Europe and appears regularly in the Italian Disney comics. 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Review: South of Forgiveness by Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger

When I sat down to watch Q&A one evening recently, I found myself utterly bewildered by the choice of one of the panellists. The thought that immediately ran through my mind was, she's written a book about, WHAT? This was followed by other thoughts such as: Is this woman anywhere near as empowered as she thinks? What man put her up to this? Is this a sick joke? Is it even for real? After all, there is something that is immediately confronting about the idea of a survivor of sexual violence collaborating on a book about forgiveness with the perpetrator of that very crime.

I turned my thoughts off and listened Thordis Elva told her story--I believe that all stories of sexual violence should be listened to without judgement. Two days later, I was in the audience when Thordis and Tom spoke about their book at Adelaide Writers' Week. There was still much that I wanted to understand, so I did what I felt was the most honest thing that I could do--I walked to the bookshop tent, and I purchased a copy of South of Forgiveness. 

South of Forgiveness, I discovered, was not a misery memoir, a real life crime novel or an instruction manuel for survivors and/or perpetrators of sexual violence. It was the story of two human beings whose lives were changed by a cruel and violent act and who, some years later, reconcile with themselves and each other about what happened that night, and who should have the burden of responsibility. It opens a discourse on sexual violence and responsibility, as does the TED talk that the authors did in November 2016. 

That a perpetrator of sexual violence has the right to speak about his actions is something that, personally, I found quite troubling. In one sense, I understood the logic of speaking out--its a dramatic demonstration that seemingly ordinary people are capable of committing disgusting acts and that, perhaps, if we have those conversations it might pave a way forward to helping others make different choices. Tom's name appears in much smaller lettering on the front, and the FAQ page of the South of Forgiveness website notes that his share of the profits will go to a Women's shelter in Reykjavic.

This book was confronting for me to read, and I was left with a number of questions, most of which are not appropriate to share in this post. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Literary Quotes

"I see that a man cannot give himself up to drinking without being miserable one-half his days and mad the other."

Friday, 10 March 2017

Friday Funnies

Here's to that one friend ...

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Phrases: Sold Down the River

Sold Down the River: 
To be Cheated or Betrayed

Sold down the River is a phrase that means to be cheated, and/or betrayed. Many people know and use the phrase on a regular basis, however lesser known is the sad history behind the phrase. It originated in the United States during the days of the slave trade. To be sold down the river meant that a slave was sold from one of the northern slave states to a cotton plantation anywhere along the Mississippi River, where conditions were particularly brutal. Being sold down the river was akin to a death sentence.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

I snapped this beautifully decorated Stobie pole some time ago, somewhere in Christie Downs, possibly near Morton Road, a little while back. (Too much time has passed for me to remember the exact location, and it's not really an area that I visit often.) Anyway, I love the many varieties of toadstools in the painting and cannot help but wonder if there is a Smurf or two lurking around anywhere ...

Friday, 3 March 2017

Friday Funnies: Morty & Ferdie Visit Australia

This never fails to crack me up--it's from a Mickey Mouse comic originally printed in the 1970s that tells the story of how Mickey travelled to Australia with his nephews Morty and Ferdie to visit some of their relatives down under. Apparently in Australia, it's easy to get lost (true) and the local mouse population ride uses kangaroos as their main mode of transportation (also true ... kidding!)

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Literary Quote of the Day

"He that is strucken blind cannot forget
The precious treasure of his eyesight lost."