Stories & Shout Outs #40

My Week:

  • Winter blue blew into town last week. Snow fell in the Central West, Northern Tablelands and Blue Mountains. Sydney only got the icy cold wind that cut through every single layer of clothing with none of the pleasure of building a snowman.
  • Mr Books got his first Covid shot (AstraZeneca) – no reaction. My boss and his wife also got theirs. They both spent last weekend in bed with flu-like symptoms and headaches. I’m booked in for the following week.
    • UPDATE: A couple of days after posting this, the Australian government, in accordance with latest health advice, changed the age limit for AstraZeneca vaccinations to only those OVER 60. Within 24 hrs, I received a notice from my doctor’s surgery automatically cancelling my appointment for next week as I now fell into the under 60/no A-Z range. The problem is, the Pfizer shots are not as readily available as the A-Z, and currently not available through my local doctor. Looks like I will be making a trip out to the vaccination hub at Homebush in the next few weeks.

I Am Reading:

  • Benang | Kim Scott (Miles Franklin winner 2000)
  • The Satapur Moonstone | Sujata Massey (cosy crime)
  • Toxic: The Rotting Underbelly of the Tasmanian Salmon Industry | Richard Flanagan (non-fiction)
  • Fire Front: First Nations poetry and power today | curator Alison Whittaker (poetry)
  • Writers on Writers | Michelle de Kretser on Shirley Hazzard (literary criticism)
  • The M Word: How to Survive Thrive in Menopause | Dr Ginni Mansberg (health)
  • Whereabouts | Jhumpa Lahiri (short stories – VERY short stories)

Read But Not Reviewed:

  • The London Scene | Virginia Woolf (non-fiction)
  • Yuiquimbiang | Louise Crisp (poetry)
  • Common People | Naomi Ishiguro
  • Émile Zola: A Very Short Introduction | Brian Nelson (non-fiction)

New to the Pile:


  • Still Life | Sarah Winman
    • Back in 2011, I had this to say about Winman’s When God Was a Rabbit.
      • ‘Funny, poignant, heart-warming, up-lifting. A truly human drama full of surprises, quirks & tragedy. A great holiday read; one you will want to share with others.’
    • In 2015 I took A Year of Marvellous Ways on an overseas holiday with me. It ended up being a DNF.
      • ‘Everything started off so hopefully. The quirkiness I remembered; the lovely writing. I was in the zone to savour every word and nuance. But slowly something happened…or failed to happen. I failed to engage with the characters. I failed to feel emotional involved, & I failed to see the point.’
    • I read the first two pages of Tin Man in 2017 and left it on the shelf for another day…perhaps.
    • Despite this haphazard record, I was still ridiculously excited when I heard about Still Life.
      • Set in Florence after WWII, full of art and Italy and the ghost of E. M. Forster. It sounded just like me! But by page 53 I knew we were going to have to part ways. The same problem as AYOMW. I simply didn’t connect. I was enjoying Evelyn’s story, but then she seemed to disappear.
  • The Wild Silence | Raynor Winn (I loved The Salt Path but found life away from the path less interesting)

In the Kitchen:

I’ve been getting into whole baked cauliflower this past month.

Ottolenghi’s SIMPLE, whole baked cauliflower with green tahini sauce was a huge success, especially with Mr Books.

From To Asia, With Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories from the Heart by Hetty McKinnon I tried the Whole Roast Cauliflower with Smashed Roasted Butter Beans.

It was sensational.

I have gone from being non-committal about my relationship with cauliflower to whole-heartedly embracing it.

I have a tandoori flavoured one to try next from Vegan With Bite by Shannon Martinez.

Excited About:

  • The June long weekend. Three days off work in a row is a real treasure.
    • I spent Saturday going for a 5km walk and reading/blogging
    • Sunday was another 5km walk, more reading/blogging AND preparing a lovely meal from SIMPLE (butter bean mash with muhammara dip and chicken marbella) for a family dinner
    • Today was a trip to the Blue Mountains with Mr Books

Not So Excited:

  • I’m over winter already. I hate being cold all the time and wearing so many layers of clothes.
  • Fast approaching stocktake day at work – ugh!

Shout Outs:

The golf course below our house in the Blue Mountains on Wednesday morning.

29 thoughts on “Stories & Shout Outs #40

  1. Thank you for the shout-out:)
    But, o woe, say it isn’t so… I have Still Life on the TBR and I was looking forward to reading it. Have I been sucked in by hype *again*?


    1. There’s a lot of love for it on book review sites Lisa. It just didn’t gel for me. Given our reading tastes sometimes match and sometimes don’t, this one could go either way 😄


  2. I’m doing a delivery in the Victorian Alps. No sign of snow yet thank goodness – wet, dirt roads and steep slopes are exciting enough. Had AZ #2 last week. No side effects. Loved the Charmian Clift when I read it a few years ago (my version, like yours, was two books in one). Hooray for Benang, be interested to see what you say about its poetic quality. One of the great Australian novels! I hope the Woolf becomes a post.


    1. I used our long weekend to really get into Benang. I love the writing. I’ve reached some pretty grim sections in the story line, but still utterly compelling.

      Hope you have a safe trip through the Alps.


      1. I survived the Alps (with a very dirty truck). After I read Benang I wrote to Kim Scott and he sent me some material – reports in newspapers of the day – about the Cocanarup Massacre which I was able to turn into a post. Once you start looking for them, the number of massacres on which the grazing and mining industries of this country are based is horrifying.


  3. I enjoyed the weather report! Here in Gulf coast U.S.A. it’s high 80s (about 32 celsius) and very, very humid. But then, it’s summer (here)!
    I, too, was looking forward to Still Life. I’ll still check it out, but with tempered expectations.
    I have de Kretser’s book on Shirley Hazzard, which I’m saving for a SH project/read. I read the Evening of the Holiday fairly recently and thought it was great, so I’m eager to explore more of her work.
    I wasn’t aware that Tóibin had new novel coming out — how exciting! I love Tóibin’s work (particularly his take on Henry James in The Master) and I also like Mann. A double treat!
    I read Brinkman’s Philida years ago, when it was long listed for the Booker. It was really well done but oh, very grim in spots, as you’d expect.
    The cauliflower looks delicious!


    1. I have Shirley Hazzard’s collected stories on my winter reading list, so I thought the de Kretser would be a good way to start.
      The Tóibin is a Sept release, I’m hoping it will prompt me to finally read a Mann book too 🙂


  4. Thanks for the shout out Brona! That cauliflower looks delicious! I hope you feel OK after your vaccine, I got Astra Zeneca too and felt rubbish for two or three days. Worth it though…


    1. Mr Books & I planned our shots to be on different days just in case on of us has a reaction. We’ve also coordinated dates at work for the same reason. More women than men seem to be having a reaction though, according to my anecdotal evidence…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m reading Still Life now and also nearly abandoned it, but kept going and I’m enjoying it now that I’m almost halfway through. I preferred When God Was a Rabbit, though.


    1. I wanted the story to be about Evelyn, so was very disappointed that she disappeared after the first chapter or so and it became about Ulysses. Glad to hear you’re enjoying it now.
      I wonder how I would go if I tried to reread WGWAR? Perhaps my reading tastes have significantly changed since 2011 and I would no longer enjoy it either?


  6. I’ve liked the Solnit I’ve read & I’ve been curious about that one. And I also hadn’t heard about the new Toibin and that it was on Mann. Hmm!


    1. Our reading copy turned up very quietly at work, with very little fanfare. I assume there will be more noise about it when we get closer to Sept.
      This will be my first Solnit, so curious to see how I fare.


    1. I have avoided cauliflower most of my life (something about childhood memories of it being boiled to within an inch of it’s life and served soggy with white sauce – yuk!) The rich, smoky flavour of a baked cauliflower has been a revelation! I may even try the cauliflower soup at my favourite cafe, that I have avoided assiduously to date, on principle!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Enjoyed your post, and I’m with you, I’m over winter! But YOU can complain – you’re a Sydney-sider. And, if you choose to go to the Blue Mountains in winter, well, you won’t get sympathy from me. Haha!


  8. Thank you for the miscellaneous shout-out. I am not familiar with the books you mention, except for Colm Toibin, a favourite author. If you have no read his The Master it is a must. It is about Henry James. I see this is about Thomas Mann. I recently read a biography about him, and am not familiar with Toibin’s book. This will be a must book for me.


    1. The new Tóibin is a Sept release, I’m assuming worldwide. I’ve been meaning to read a Mann, so I’m hoping this will be the prompt to get me there. I have The Master on my TBR & I’m hoping it will prompt me to read some more James one day too 🙂


  9. Ahhh, that age-old recipe to cook the smack outa a vegetable and smother it in sauce (but never adequately enough that it could actually be enjoyed).

    Caultiflower rocks. I think there should be entire cauliflower recipe books. 🥦 Right not, it doesn’t even have an emoji. 😆 Tahini sauce is one of my favourite food groups. And I have recently discovered caultflower rice (grating it) which is nice for cold salads. (It’s not snowing here. But I love the scene in your photo!)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s