RE­VIEWS LAU­REN NO­VAK, SAMELA HARRIS, KATHARINE ENG­LAND

Sunday Territorian - - FRONTIER ARTS & BOOKS -

Mem­oir I AM, I AM, I AM Mag­gie O’Far­rell Tin­der Press, $29.99 Mag­gie O’Far­rell has dodged death more times than most. The Ire­land-born au­thor’s mem­oir chron­i­cles 17 “near-death ex­pe­ri­ences” over her four-plus decades of life. There are life-and-death mo­ments — al­most drown­ing, nose­div­ing in a plane. Oth­ers are near misses — es­cap­ing a dan­ger­ous stranger, just avoid­ing a speed­ing ve­hi­cle. You may re­late to her catch­ing of dysen­tery or emer­gency Csec­tion. Some chap­ters are more ab­stract (like re­ceiv­ing a mer­ci­ful neg­a­tive test re­sult) or hap­pen, not to her, but to her chil­dren. Pre­sented as a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, they’re told not chrono­log­i­cally, but di­vided into chap­ters based on the body parts af­fected by the story. It’s an en­gag­ing way to frame a mem­oir, as O’Far­rell weaves in other mem­o­ries to also tell travel tales, love sto­ries and fam­ily his­to­ries. It will leave you grate­ful to be alive. Rat­ing: êêêêk Spec­u­la­tive fic­tion BROAD­CAST Liam Brown Ban­tam $29.99 So­cial me­dia has pro­duced an epi­demic of va­pid self-fas­ci­na­tion in­clud­ing the phe­nom­e­non of vlog­gers up­load­ing videos of their lives onto YouTube and Snapchat. Dave Cal­low has achieved such a mas­sive fol­low­ing as a su­per­star vlog­ger that he draws the at­ten­tion of a cy­ber en­tre­pre­neur to ac­cept a pro­to­type brain im­plant which de­liv­ers a 24-hour-a-day di­rect broad­cast of his thoughts. There­after, with the world avidly watch­ing on phones and ev­ery­one want­ing a slice of the ac­tion, the vlog­ger’s van­ity is usurped by the need to con­trol the na­ture of thought. Big Brother is also watch­ing and Cal­low dis­cov­ers things are not what they seem. The book is rich in lively turns of phrase, and an in­ter­est­ing spec­u­la­tive ride through the per­ilous pos­si­bil­i­ties of new me­dia. Rat­ing: êêêê Pic­ture­book THE NAUGHTIEST REIN­DEER TAKES A BOW Nicki Green­berg Allen & Un­win $19.99 This year’s Christ­mas themed books for young chil­dren have seemed oddly melan­choly, but noth­ing can stem the ex­u­ber­ance of Green­berg’s Ruby the Rein­deer in her third mis­ad­ven­ture, not even ac­ci­den­tally hi­jack­ing the sleigh and leav­ing Santa pant­ing on a bi­cy­cle. It’s all done with the best of in­ten­tions, of course: Ruby plans to get a head start on the de­liv­er­ies and save all that last minute panic, but the sleigh proves far too heavy for one small rein­deer and she crashes again, sleigh, presents and all, into the ev­ery­day lives of George and Amelia and thus into the school Christ­mas play where she ap­pro­pri­ates a state­ful of lit­tle hu­man rein­deers. An en­ter­tain­ing read full of move­ment and colour. Rat­ing: êêêê

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