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