ABOUT | Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. “I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee,” she tells us. “It’s never going to be the first thing I share with someone. I tell you Fern was a chimp and already you aren’t thinking of her as my sister. But until Fern’s expulsion, I’d scarcely known a moment alone. She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister.”
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | Wholly original in concept and voice — jaunty, smart and heartbreaking — this is one of my tops reads of the year.
WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who enjoys witty yet emotionally gripping work, especially in the context of complicated family relationships.
FAVOURITE QUOTE |
“One day, a package of junior-sized tampons was left on my bed along with a pamphlet that looked technical and boring, so I didn’t read it. Nothing was ever said to me about tampons. It was just blind luck that I didn’t smoke them.”
ABOUT | A vibrant and moving portrait of love, friendship, work, and the writing life.
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | I found her observations on writing as a profession at once consoling and encouraging.
WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | I would have liked more essays on her writing philosophy and process, but that’s just me.
WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who appreciates a witty, elegant collection of personal essays.
FAVOURITE QUOTE |
“The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living. My short stories and novels have always filled my life with meaning, but, at least in the first decade of my career, they were no more capable of supporting me than my dog was. But part of what I love about both novels and dogs is that they are so beautifully oblivious to economic concerns. We serve them, and in return they thrive. It isn’t their responsibility to figure out where the rent is coming from.”
ABOUT | Gabrielle’s unconventional journey through the kitchens she inhabited through the years before opening her acclaimed New York restaurant ‘Prune.’
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT | I don’t think I’ve ever read a more authentic, gritty (yet tender) memoir before. In addition to that — she writes so beautifully — Hamilton’s prose deserves a Michelin star.
WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE ABOUT IT | The scene about the rat. It was an important scene and she was right to include it, but I’ve had a nightmare or two since reading it.
WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO | Anyone who loves authentic cooking and/or writing, especially if they are interested in Italy and Italian cuisine.
FAVOURITE QUOTE | So many — but here is one from the first chapter (p.7), when she is describing her mother:
She lived in our kitchen, ruled the house with an oily wooden spoon in her hand, and forced us to eat dark, briny wrinkled olives, small birds we would have liked as pets, and cheeses that looked like they might well bear Legionnaire’s Disease.
… It’s mostly set in a futuristic Joburg in 2021. Infertility is an epidemic. They have inflatable motorbike helmets and schmeat. Kirsten is a synaesthete (which means she hears and sees in colours and numbers because her senses get jumbled) with a fertility problem. And Seth is a hot-shot chemgineer who works for an underground biopunk truth organisation.
It’s a tightly wound and imaginative thriller. An enjoyable read that ticks along quickly and raises some really thought-provoking and terrifying questions about population growth and the future of bio/chemical/gene engineering.
I want to stick a fork in my eye when people tell me they ‘love reading’ but just don’t have the time. Life is so bloody exciting with all this sitting at my desk and looking at the Facebook and the Twitter. I get it. Who has time for anything anymore?
I want to take you (firmly, but not unkindly) aside. Your brain is starving, I want to say.Your brain is like the carnivorous plant in the Little Shop of Horrors.
I know all that! I can hear you yelling from behind your smarty-pants handheld devices. I know it’s good for me but where do I find the TIME? Well, here are some lifestyle hacks that will up your reading consumption, which will in turn help me to keep my eyeballs intact.