04 Mar 2017
in Book Review
Tags: adrian lewinski, australian, australian writer, balanced, becoming a better individual, becoming a better person, book, books, break-up, break-ups, buddha, buddhism, buddhists, change, clever, comedian, comfort, compassionate, considered, dating, dependent arising, essential reading, evolution, fear, fundamental buddhist principles, grief, growth, guide, happiness, heartbreak, impermanence, logical collection, loneliness, love, manual, marriage break down, meshel laurie, navigating negative emotions, positive aspects of a break-up, practical, radio personality, real-life experiences, relatable, relationship, relationships, relationships will end, religion, review, reviews, right direction, self-help, separation, spirituality, television personality, therapeutic, thought-provoking, tv personality, volume, well-explained, well-written, what would buddha do?, writer
There are many people who ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?” but in the case of Meshel Laurie, it was, “What would Buddha do?” The Australian writer, comedian and radio personality was looking towards her Buddhist faith as a way of making sense of the end of her 19 year marriage. Except that there were no self-help manuals on successfully separating, not from a Buddhist standpoint, so she wrote her own and it’s a thought-provoking, relatable and compassionate read.
Laurie’s book finds the right balance between offering her own personal tale as well as the fundamental principles that Buddhists believe. She describes her separation from her ex-husband, Adrian Lewinski in some detail, whilst also offering a template for navigating through the negative emotions of fear, grief and loneliness that are synonymous with heartbreak.
If you’re sitting there dismissing this book as a bunch of hippie nonsense then think again. This book is instead a rather practical and logical collection of different chapters. Early on Laurie has us considering the fact that we will all lose somebody close to us someday: “No relationship – romantic, familial or platonic – is absolute and forever. We will all lose someone we rely on at some point in our lives. Sometimes the other person chooses to leave us, sometimes they’re taken from us tragically, and sometimes we discover that they were never ours to begin with. But one way or another, the relationship will end.”
This means that the ability to deal with the loss of a relationship is a useful skill. Another handy lesson that Laurie offers is to learn about the Buddhist principles of “impermanence” i.e. understanding that everyone and everything is constantly changing and “dependent arising” or understanding that we never actually stop evolving or changing and that this process is shaped by the conditions around us. For Meshel she simply wants us to consider and focus on the positive aspects of a break-up – even if it’s just being able to lie in a large bed and watch your favourite shows on Netflix – you should seize this opportunity for happiness and growth.
Meshel Laurie offers us some very practical pieces of advice in her second book, Buddhism for Break-ups. This combination of well-written, well-explained and considered Buddhist teachings as well as her own real-life experiences can offer some real comfort to readers in much the same was as Chicken Soup For The Soul has done. You can really get a sense that, “If Meshel can do it then perhaps I can too.”
Buddhism for Break-ups should be essential reading for anyone that finds themselves broken-hearted and open to the prospect of learning new things and becoming a better individual. Buddhism for Break-ups may not answer all of your questions but it is certainly clever and therapeutic enough to steer you in the right direction. Namaste!
Originally published on 28 February 2017 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/book-review-meshel-lauries-buddhism-for-break-ups-is-the-buddhist-dating-equivalent-of-chicken-soup-for-the-soul/
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14 Feb 2017
in Book Review
Tags: 2016, 2016 australian federal election, 2016 election, Australia, australian, australian politics, bad coffee, book, books, clever, commentary, diarised accounts, divorce, educational, election, entertaining, entertaining yarns, federal election, funny, funny asides, gonzo journalism, heartbreak & chaos on the campaign trail, heartbreak and chaos on the campaign trail, highways, informative, intelligent, lee zachariah, marriage break-up, marriage breakup, memoir, nick xenophon, nick xenophon party, not comprehensive, not deep, perspectives, political analysis, political commentary, politics, pop culture, review, reviews, sarah hanson-young, vice magazine, well-put, witty, writer
The combination of a political analysis and a memoir about the dissolution of a marriage could be considered similar to oil and water. But in the hands of Australian author, Lee Zachariah, this book is quite a funny and rather seamless slice of gonzo journalism. Zachariah draws parallels between the Liberal party’s entry into office in 2013 and his marriage to his girlfriend as well as the aftermath of 2016, which saw Australians starring down the barrel of an uncertain election and Zachariah also facing an ambiguous future with respect to his relationship and life in general.
Double Dissolution is based around Zachariah’s series of articles for Vice Magazine about the 2016 Election, although none of his pieces are included here. Instead, diarised accounts of the highways, bad coffee and campaign bus are included as well as vox pops and interviews with volunteers, voters and politicians like: Greens senator, Sarah Hanson-Young and senator and leader of his own political party, Nick Xenophon. This book is pitched at all readers with political fans being able to enjoy the commentary while those less enamoured with politics can at least get enough context to understand Zachariah’s perspectives and encounters with those vying for power. Zachariah does a fabulous job of this, providing just enough information to be educational while never being dry or boring.
Some of the funniest parts of this book are Zachariah’s little asides and extra thoughts that can be found in the footnotes. He draws parallels between what is transpiring before him and various slices of pop culture. These links are never forced or tenuous. Zachariah has previously cut his teeth on TV shows like The Chaser’s Hamster Wheel and Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell and he certainly knows how to craft and tell an entertaining yarn or ten.
Double Dissolution is not the most deep or comprehensive look at Australian politics or the 2016 federal election and nor does it purport to be. Instead it is perhaps the most entertaining look at these topics. Zachariah is an interesting, gonzo character and his perspectives and commentary are quite intelligent and well-put. Perhaps this foray onto the campaign trail will see Zachariah run for office some day? Because as this book proves, he can’t be as bad as what we’ve previously had!
***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer through a Bookstr giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.bookstr.com/book/double-dissolution/10478633/
14 Dec 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: 1950s, 2 part, aesthetics, alain de botton, architecture, australian, australian buildings, blues point tower, design, doco, documentary, fifites, fly-on-the-wall, Harry Seidler, history, home, house, immigrants' nostalgia, interesting, kathy lette, kevin mccloud, late 20th century immigrants' nostalgia, mansions, mcmansions, modernism, modernist, opinionated presenter, passionate presenter, Robin Boyd, rose seidler house, roso, Rosso, sally aitken, streets of your town, sts of ur town, suburban australia, suburban life, syd ancher, sydney opera house, the australian academy of science building, Tim Ross, two part, upsizing
Streets of Your Town is a romp through history, suburban Australia and its architecture. Comedian, Tim Ross, a self-confessed modernist tragic who has performed his own live shows in significant Australian buildings takes us on a journey through different Aussie structures, from the significant ones to the humble family home ranging from the 1950s to today. This two-part documentary could have been longer and is ultimately a love letter by Ross to Australian architects and buildings, but the series is not without a few structural trappings.
This fly-on-the-wall program from director, Sally Aitken (Getting Frank Gehry) begins in the post-war years when materials like concrete, steel and glass were used to make sleek and functional, modernist designs. In this special, Ross describes important buildings like the Sydney Opera House, Rose Seidler House, The Australian Academy of Science Building and Blues Point Tower. He also interviews a number of interesting individuals including Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs,) writer, Kathy Lette and philosopher, Alain de Botton.
The final part of the series tackles the impact of immigration on Australia’s homes, particularly the ones from the eighties where columns, arches and balconies saw them dubbed “Late 20th century immigrants’ nostalgia.” There is also the recent phenomena of upsizing the family home such that media rooms and en-suites are a must and are no longer a negotiable commodity.
Over the course of this programme Ross and his team go into detail about Australia’s pioneering architects including Robin Boyd, Harry Seidler and Syd Ancher, to name a few. Ross is also a little condescending at times when he dismisses the McMansions of today even though they are punctuating the suburbs. He calls them ugly in an aesthetic sense and he also believes that many old buildings should be cherished and preserved.
Streets of Your Town is an interesting documentary series about Australian architecture, history and suburban life. Ross is a passionate and rather opinionated presenter and sometimes his ideas may not accord with his viewers, as he is a little biased towards modernism. But at the end of the day this intriguing show demonstrates just what it takes for a house to be appreciated and considered a home.
Originally published on 12 December 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/streets-town-dvd-review/
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27 Jun 2016
in Book Review
Tags: 4th novel, aunty janice, australian, believable, book, books, comedy, domestic dramedy, emotion, fertility, fidelity, fourth novel, funny, good satire, humor, humour, love and marriage, modern love, modern romance, our tiny useless hearts, parenting, pithy, real, real characters, review, reviews, rich characterisation, rom-com, romp, sex, shenanigans, thoughtfulness, three relationships implode, toni jordan, warm, well-written, witty
David Bowie may have sung about modern love but it is author, Toni Jordan that has written a book about it. Her fourth novel, Our Tiny, Useless Hearts is set over the course of a single weekend in suburban Melbourne and it shows how three different relationships implode. This well-written and witty book is a fun and light read that is set in a kind of domestic chaos.
This novel is what you would get if you crossed Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina with the works of Marian Keyes or P. G. Wodehouse. The story begins with the end of Caroline and Henry’s marriage. It’s an ugly event where a night-long screaming match ends with Caroline cutting out the crotches of her husband’s fine suits. She then follows him to Noosa where he has planned a holiday with his new flame, a schoolteacher named Martha.
Caroline and Henry are the parents of two precocious young girls (one of whom is taught by Martha). Their Aunty Janice is called in to babysit because she is the “sensible one,” or so it would seem. Janice is the story’s narrator and is a clever and witty scientist but she has also made some silly mistakes involving her own love life. She divorced the man she loves- the sweet and kind-hearted Alec and she did not divulge the true reasons for her change of heart. This is just one of the many secrets that are revealed in this novel. The other main characters are Caroline and Henry’s neighbours, the attractive but dumb, Craig and his self-absorbed artist wife, Lesley.
The characters in this novel are very flawed but for this reason the also seem very real and believable. Jordan has done an excellent job by providing rich characterisation, as the adults provide many moments of real humour as well as emotion and thoughtfulness. The whole experience is like being a fly-on-the-wall to the shenanigans that take place. Jordan expertly reveals each secret and lie from the past and tells these alongside the light of the present day, while also offering up some social observations about fertility, fidelity, parenting, sex and more.
Our Tiny, Useless Hearts is a warm and pithy take on modern romance. This Australian, domestic dramedy is an easy and enjoyable read. It’s ultimately a good satire based on love and marriage and a jaunty take on an institute you can’t disparage, lest you wind up being the star of a novel and the butt of a joke.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer thanks to a Goodreads giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29285427-our-tiny-useless-hearts
25 May 2016
in Book Review
Tags: australian, bold, confronting, controlling, diary, direct style, domestic violence, don't hit me!, dv, eloquent, fragments, graphic, gritty, honest, immediate, important issue, manipultive, no holds barred, non-linear, non-traditional, outspoken, poems, raw, rich, trigger warning, unconventional, unstable man, Vanessa de Largie, vanessa delargie, victim, vignettes, violent man, vivid, vocal
Trigger warning: This post includes information about domestic violence and may be distressing for some readers.
Vanessa de Largie’s book will leave you torn. It’s a diarised account of the domestic violence she suffered from 2001–03. On the one hand you wish this book didn’t exist (and that de Largie didn’t have to live through such pain, horror and terror) but on the other hand it’s good to know that others will have somewhere to turn to if they or someone they know is caught as a victim.
De Largie is a successful actress and writer and in some ways she reminds me of Tara Moss. De Largie is a very eloquent, outspoken and vocal in her views on feminism and female sexuality. In Don’t Hit Me! her style is very direct and immediate, and she commands you as a reader to listen to her tragic tale.
This book makes no apologies about being an unconventional and non-traditional one. The story is made up of different vignettes, poems and fragments, which means that the volume can be read in a non-linear way or in fact however the reader may choose. No matter which method the reader decides to employ, the prose is often very graphic and confronting in its detailing the psychological and physical abuse she endured, and the manipulative and controlling behaviour she was subjected to by one violent and unstable man.
Don’t Hit Me! is a bold statement and also one rich and vivid account of de Largie’s life. It’s a book that is told in an effective, no-holds barred way where it is steadfastly raw and gritty. De Largie should be commended for tackling the elephant in the room head-on and opening up the dialogue on an important issue that is too often ignored or swept under the carpet.
Originally published on 24 May 2016 at the following website: http://arts.theaureview.com/reviews/book-review-dont-hit-me-by-vanessa-de-largie-booktrope-books-2016/
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06 Mar 2016
in DVD Review
Tags: adaptation, amiable, Anthony Brandon Wong, asian, asian australians, australian, benjamin law, colourful, comedy, contemporary australian life, creative, drama, dramedy, dvd, dvds, eccentric, emotion, family drama, family show, featurettes, Fiona Choi, fun, gay, George Zhao, hot australian summer, irreverence, irreverent, jenny law, Jonathan Brough, Karina Lee, large family, lasagne of shit, long-overdue, Marieke Hardy, michelle law, middle child, modern australian life, queensland, relatable, review, reviews, sbs, series, shenanigans, show, Shuang Hu, sitcom, teenage life, television, the family law, Trystan Go, tv, Vivian Wei, warm
For too long, Australian TV shows have been white-washed and white bread but a series like The Family Law looks poised to change all of that. The SBS dramedy feels authentic in its depiction of the Law family living in Queensland in the nineties. The show has real heart and it will make you laugh and it’s no surprise that it has become a swift favourite among viewers.
The program is an adaption of writer, Benjamin Law’s 2010 memoir of the same name. The TV series was also co-written with Marieke Hardy. It uses some of the vignettes from Law’s memoir where he describes growing up as a gay, Asian kid in Australia. The TV show also fashions it all into a cohesive whole by making it seem like it all took place over one long, hot Australian summer.
The six-part series is mostly told from Law’s perspective. He is a creative, enthusiastic and well-meaning middle child who is close to his large family, especially his mother. Here, Law is played by the well-cast, Trystan Go, whose acting credits include the theatrical production, The King & I. But one character’s star shines the brightest out of the Law family and that is Ben’s mother, Jenny (played by the wonderful, Fiona Choi). Jenny is the family matriarch and a rambunctious, eccentric and colourful character. Jenny can be inappropriate at times and a no-nonsense and kind woman at others. She also has no filter and has by far, some of the funniest lines.
The Law family also includes the hard-working father, Danny (Anthony Brandon Wong (who plays a villain in several Matrix films)). Danny is thrown-out of the Law house and is forced to sleep at the restaurant he owns. There are also Ben’s four siblings- Candy (Shuang Hu), Andrew (George Zhao), Tammy (Karina Lee) and Michelle (Vivian Wei). The show is a warm, relatable and amiable one that focuses on Ben’s teenage life- from aspirations of fame and entries into school talent quests, to his parent’s wedding anniversary and marriage break-up to family Christmases, engagements and visits from friends.
The special features are interesting and include a trailer as well as a series of featurettes where there are interviews with Law, the actors and director, Jonathan Brough (It’s a Date, Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane). It is fascinating to learn that the production team went to great lengths to make the setting feel like a cosy, lived-in family home. Law referred to it as a “lasagne of shit” and this is particularly obvious in the mountains of laundry and family bric-a-brac. It’s also nice to see the real members of the Law family meeting their counterparts (they make a cameo in episode one which is lovely and rather funny).
The Family Law is a fun, Australian family show that expertly straddles the lines between drama and comedy. The show has some funny moments but it also doesn’t shy away from depicting some real drama and emotion. In all, this is a long-overdue program about a dysfunctional Asian family that everyone can enjoy thanks to its rich tapestry and depiction of modern Australian life that is full of off-beat irreverence and colourful shenanigans aplenty.
Originally published on 5 March 2016 at the following website: http://www.impulsegamer.com/the-family-law-dvd-review/
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