Careful He Might Hear You by Sumner Locke Elliott

Astonishing work, about which many words have already been written. I don’t really want to add to them other than to point out it’s hard to believe that these rivetting 500 pages are all true. More or less, and closer to more than less, that is.

Here is a link to a 1995 PhD by Sharon Clarke which is the most information we have about his life and work.

Sumner Locke Elliott: Writing Life

There is a movie, which is available on Youtube at the moment. Not sure how to see it otherwise.

The Things She Owned by Katherine Tamiko Arguile

I’m not the right person to read or review this, it’s way out of any of the areas in which I read. Superior chick lit might be the most apt description? I bought it because the author owns a little cafe complete with bookshelves in Adelaide CBD: Booknook and Bean. Isn’t that as good a reason as any to buy a book?!

That said, I read the whole thing in next to no time, so it’s eminently readable and will be a good choice for anybody looking for an easy read and/or something with a lot of interesting background on Japan, particularly at the end of WWII and the subsequent years.

I bought it during lockdown and Imprints bookseller, also in the CBD, was kind enough to deliver it and a Nick Cave book, adding some cheer to those strange days.




The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

I was sorely tempted to review this in conjunction with Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, which if I had to put it in a genre, I would call historical fiction. Yet the two books could scarcely be more different. Ishiguro gives you an idea of a period, it’s hazy, impressionistic. Ghosh is very precise about historical themes. The book is sweeping – panoramic – but his focus is not on detail. If one might call World War one, for instance, a ‘detail’, it is noted in passing, perhaps in no more than a sentence, whilst the process of logging teak in Burma (as it was for most of the story) is told in depth over various settings and periods.

In principle I disapprove of historical fiction. Read a history book if you want history. Go the hard yards, fiction author. Don’t rely on historical filler to make up for your lack of story. But the fact is that I swallowed up all 500 pages of this in a couple of days and (obviously) was pleased to do so. I felt like I was there for every moment of the book. I was in the Glass Palace, I was in the jungle, I was on a rubber plantation in Singapore and various settings in India. Presumably that’s about as high praise as this sort of book can get.

It’s my first book by Ghosh, but I can see I’m going to have to try another.