There’s no Wikipedia page yet for es­say­ist David Searcy... but there should be

Dubbo Photo News - - Business. - BY KATE WHITING THE BOOKCASE

BOOK OF THE WEEK

Shame And Won­der by David Searcy is pub­lished in hard­back by Wil­liam Heine­mann. TEXAN writer David Searcy is far from a house­hold name; as yet, he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. But that should soon change if th­ese es­says and med­i­ta­tions find the au­di­ence they de­serve, some­thing which cer­tainly seems pos­si­ble given the in­creased ap­petite of late for thought­ful non-fic­tion whose pre­cise genre is hard to de­fine.

Sixty-some­thing Searcy cov­ers os­ten­si­ble sub­jects rang­ing from coy­otes, Google Maps and den­tal hygiene, to Santa’s old dio­cese and the toys that used to come in break­fast ce­real. But re­ally, as with the es­say form’s great em­i­nence Mon­taigne, this is the spec­ta­cle of a mind con­sid­er­ing its world and it­self – us­ing the ev­ery­day, the spe­cific and the pe­cu­liar to Film poke at uni­ver­sal ques­tions of time, love, loss and per­cep­tion.

Con­sider this pas­sage, from the piece which be­gan by talk­ing about ce­real toys: “So ex­traor­di­nar­ily sen­si­tive Books to mean­ing yet trans­par­ent to it, I sus­pect pro­fun­di­ties passed through us all the time. We knew all sorts of deep, im­por­tant things, but only very What’s briefly. What I’d like to know is what might be re­quired to get it back.” Else­where the ef­fect can On seem sim­ple and home­spun at first glance, but if you try read­ing Searcy on a busy com­mute, or af­ter a cou­ple of drinks, you soon re­alise just how in­tri­cately TV his thoughts are wo­ven into th­ese words.

As the ti­tle sug­gests, Shame And Won­der is a bit­ter­sweet book, but also a sharp and pro­foundly wise one. Wher­ever Searcy starts, he of­ten cir­cles back to a par­tic­u­lar set of pre­oc­cu­pa­tions – wide open spa­ces (Texan or as­tro­nom­i­cal), old graf­fiti and the melan­choly tem­po­ral­ity it sug­gests, ab­sent friends (many of whom sound like in­ter­est­ing artists in their own right). Fans of na­ture writ­ing, Amer­i­cana and the philo­soph­i­cal will all find much to soothe, di­vert and pro­voke be­tween th­ese cov­ers.

8/10 (Re­view by Alex Sarll)

FIC­TION

Be­side My­self by Ann Mor­gan is pub­lished in hard­back by Blooms­bury. THE sub­ject of twins and their re­la­tion­ship seems to be a pop­u­lar one in fic­tion at the mo­ment and this de­but thriller fol­lows the story of twin sis­ters, El­lie and He­len, who swap places aged six.

At first, it is a game, but El­lie – the more sub­mis­sive twin who has lived in her sis­ter’s shadow – re­fuses to swap back and He­len is forced into a new iden­tity. He­len goes on to de­velop a range of be­havioural prob­lems and while El­lie flour­ishes, she spi­rals into a self-de­struc­tive path of men­tal ill­ness and ad­dic­tion.

This is an ac­com­plished read with an ex­cel­lent plot and a bril­liant, multi-lay­ered nar­ra­tive voice, but for me, at times it felt a bit too like a mis­ery mem­oir. How­ever, there is no doubt this is a taut and com­pul­sive read.

7/10 (Re­view by Georgina Rodgers) In The Cold Dark Ground by Stu­art Macbride is pub­lished in hard­back by Harpercollins. WHEN a body is found in the woods out­side Banff – naked, hands tied be­hind its back and a bin bag duct-taped over its head – the Ma­jor In­ves­ti­ga­tion Team, led by Lo­gan Mcrae’s ex-boss DCI Steel, charges up from Aberdeen. As usual, Steel wants Mcrae to do her job for her while she takes all the credit, but it’s not go­ing to be easy.

A new su­per­in­ten­dent has been brought in over her head, Steel is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by Pro­fes­sional Stan­dards and Hamish Mowat, the god­fa­ther of Aberdeen’s crim­i­nal un­der­belly, is on his deathbed. Ri­val gangs are eye­ing up his ter­ri­tory, a turf war’s about to break out and Mcrae is caught in the middle.

If you like your crime fic­tion gritty, un­spar­ing and vi­o­lent, Macbride’s your man. He’s an ac­com­plished sto­ry­teller and in this, the 10th Lo­gan Mcrae book, he deftly weaves to­gether seem­ingly dis­parate plot strands to cre­ate a sus­pense­ful page-turner that will leave you want­ing more. 7/10 (Re­view by Cather­ine Small)

The Good Liar by Ni­cholas Searle is pub­lished in hard­back by Vik­ing. AU­THOR Ni­cholas Searle de­vel­oped his de­but novel at the Cur­tis Brown writ­ing school – and it be­gins with an old cou­ple on a seem­ingly or­di­nary first date, in a well­known pub. But all is not as it seems since Roy is ad­dicted to scam­ming vul­ner­a­ble women who he tar­gets through on­line dat­ing web­sites.

Wealthy widow Betty is his lat­est vic­tim, al­though, as his schem­ing be­came more ob­vi­ous to­wards the end, I found it hard to be­lieve she was obliv­i­ous to it. The book is writ­ten in al­ter­nat­ing sec­tions, switch­ing from the present tense about Roy’s ex­cite­ment at the thought of fi­nan­cially de­ceiv­ing Betty, and past-tense, telling the back­story of Roy and how he came to be a fraud­ster.

Over­all, the book takes the reader on an in­ter­est­ing jour­ney, the plot de­ceives you as Roy does in his fic­tional world. As soon as you think you’ve fig­ured out the twist, the story takes a com­pletely dif­fer­ent turn. The story did lose pace in the middle and it took a while to build up the ten­sion to the big re­veal.

5/10 (Re­view by Jade Wors­ley)

NON-FIC­TION

One Breath: Free­d­iv­ing, Death, And The Quest To Shat­ter Hu­man Lim­its by Adam Skol­nick is pub­lished in hard­back by Cor­sair. LAST year I de­vel­oped a bit of a fas­ci­na­tion with free­d­iv­ing, al­beit from the afar and con­trast­ing com­fort of my city­d­welling 9-5(ish) rou­tine – so my plunge into this mys­te­ri­ous and mes­meris­ing world of un­aided, deep div­ing was done through read­ing.

James Nestor’s Deep: Free­d­iv­ing, Renegade Sci­ence And What The Ocean Tells Us About Our­selves hooked me in a way I’d not ex­pe­ri­enced with a book since pos­si­bly child­hood – and I won­dered whether any other free­d­iv­ing book could come close.

One Breath is dif­fer­ent: where Nestor ex­plores the of­ten mys­ti­cal and mind­blow­ing sci­ence of the deep and how it’s pos­si­ble for hu­mans to hold their breath and de­scend to depths that see their lungs com­press to less than half their usual size and sur­vive (though black-outs and cough­ing up blood is com­mon), Skol­nick ex­plores the story of Ni­cholas ‘Nick’ Mevoli, the first Amer­i­can to dive down to 100 me­tres on a sin­gle breath hold – and also the first per­son to die in a com­pet­i­tive free­d­iv­ing event, at Dean’s Blue Hole in the Ba­hamas in 2013.

It’s easy to dis­miss the death merely as proof that the sport is dan­ger­ous – but, as Skol­nick demon­strates, it doesn’t end there, and there are nu­mer­ous ques­tions that re­main unan­swered.

To what ex­tent was Nick’s own ob­ses­sion with push­ing lim­its re­spon­si­ble for his death? Could the tragedy have been pre­vented if the med­i­cal team had been bet­ter pre­pared? Why did his lungs re­spond the way they did,

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