BOOK CLUB

THIS MONTH’S PICKS ARE EN­TER­TAIN­ING, BUT ALSO LEAVE BE­HIND NEW AND EX­CIT­ING IDEAS ABOUT HOW THE WORLD IS CHANG­ING.

Country Style - - BOOKS - REVIEWS ANNABEL LAW­SON

THE ONE

John Marrs, Del Rey, $23.99 You’ll have a bunch of unan­swered ques­tions at the end of this de­li­ciously bode­ful novel, but that’s okay. A decade from now a sci­en­tist has set up ‘Match Your DNA’ — the ul­ti­mate dat­ing tool. Trou­ble is, hap­pily mar­ried cou­ples want to try it. Have they made the best choice? Dear oh dear. And what if your match hap­pens to be a se­rial killer? Or al­ready dead? Marrs presents a con­vinc­ing panoply of hu­man na­ture at its best and worst. Let us en­joy the way things are be­fore tech­nol­ogy takes over. Blun­der­ing into re­la­tion­ships and then adapt­ing as best you can is prob­a­bly the best op­tion.

MOVE FAST AND BREAK THINGS

Jonathan Taplin, Macmil­lan, $32.99 If I win the lot­tery, I’ll buy every sub­scriber a copy of this book. Taplin writes about the largely hid­den pow­ers of Google, Face­book and Ama­zon to re­place govern­ment, in fact to be­come our new rulers. (They col­lect per­sonal data and sell it to those who want to har­ness our be­hav­iour.) Their founders were de­cent blokes who wanted to ‘do no evil’. Yet what they did was cre­ate an ad­dic­tion to funny lit­tle emoti­cons. In­stead of rev­el­ling in the knowl­edge and beauty the in­ter­net offfff­fers, we look for ‘likes’. There’s more. Creatives can no longer sur­vive be­cause their prod­ucts are dis­trib­uted free via the in­ter­net. Style Coun­try A very small num­ber of creators do well and get paid vast amounts of money, but we are de­nied the va­ri­ety and bold­ness of the past. The build-up of facts and fi­fig­ures is in­ter­spersed with chunks of au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. Taplin used to be on Bob Dy­lan’s team, worked with Scors­ese in the days when power-hun­gry plu­to­crats hadn’t yet im­pov­er­ished so-called ‘con­tent providers’. He is now a pro­fes­sor. Per­fect. The tu­mult of cre­ation fol­lowed by a han­dover.

TABOO

Kim Scott, Pi­cador, $32.99 Scott be­longs to the Noon­gar peo­ple and he’s a pro­fes­sor of writ­ing at Curtin Uni­ver­sity. His novel ex­plores a do-gooder’s at­tempt to heal bad blood be­tween In­dige­nous and white com­mu­ni­ties. A young fe­male sufff­fers shock­ing abuse from both sides of the eth­nic di­vide, yet emerges braver than those held in thrall by tra­di­tional be­liefs and wiser than the rest of us who seem to be mak­ing it up as we go along.

THE GIRL BE­FORE

J.P. De­laney, Quer­cus, $32.99 There’s noth­ing spooky about Ed­ward’s com­puter. This isn’t sci­ence fi­fic­tion. He’s an ar­chi­tect and he’s built the per­fect house, a pris­tine cube. He needs the per­fect ten­ant. There are rules and reg­u­la­tions, and a long ques­tion­naire to elu­ci­date the ap­pli­cants’ psy­che. Af­ter two deaths and a birth (which poses the big­gest ques­tion of all), the cube awaits a new ten­ant. This is prob­a­bly the best novel you’ll read all year.

DE­PENDS WHAT YOU MEAN BY EX­TREM­IST

John Safran, Pen­guin/hamish Hamil­ton, $34.99 Safran starts out in ironic vein. In search of Aus­tralia’s ex­treme ac­tivists he fifinds that the leader of a white su­prem­a­cist group is Sri Lankan. Is­lamists and Is­lam­o­phobes fifind com­mon cause against Jews. (Safran is Jewish.) As the months go by, how­ever, his en­er­getic so­cial­is­ing turns sour. Safran’s Mus­lim mate is no longer shar­ing Monty Python jokes. He’s in gaol and non-con­tactable. The book ends with Safran re­joic­ing that Trump has been elected US pres­i­dent. He is ‘good for the book’ — be­cause he proves Safran’s claim that fringe sen­ti­ments can sud­denly gain trac­tion and har­row the mid­dle ground.

THE EX­TRA­OR­DI­NARY LIFE OF PIKELET

Cal­ley Gib­son, Ebury Press, $29.99 Pikelet was a res­cue puppy, who now fos­ters other un­for­tu­nate an­i­mals. Gib­son dresses him in every imag­in­able out­fi­fit and he clearly en­joys show­ing offff; this is not ex­ploita­tion. Pikelet’s diary is aimed at dot­ing staffiffie own­ers like my­self. Nuffff said. Some pro­ceeds from the book go to­wards help­ing dogs that have been aban­doned.

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