This month’s reading pile features three very different books (poetry, essays, a novel), each resonating with its own heartbeat. I’ll begin with Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin. It’s a new release and I’d heard a lot of advance buzz, so feel fortunate I got my hands on a library copy when I did. Word of mouth has only increased since it’s been out and I will add my voice to that praise. Better critics have articulated Tumarkin’s style than I could – the Australian described her as “iconoclastic” before adding, “In a genre dominated by chancers and frauds, Axiomatic is the real deal”; The Monthly warns that these essays are bracing before making the suggestion that they may be read in sips or gulps. Perfect phrasing for this particular reader – I almost couldn’t finish the first essay ‘Time heals all wounds’ which discusses teenage suicide. It brought up memories of losing a friend in high school. I thought of my novel, how I’ve written about the subject. I kept stopping to cry and reflect. Tumarkin’s style is detailed and compassionate. She frequently addresses the length of time it has taken to write these essays, and that might be one of the features I love the best about the book because these admissions are utterly relatable. Not only that, she incorporates them masterfully into her work: time rolls the kaleidoscope of experience, making it richer.
The Darwin Poems by Emily Ballou was published in 2009 and I wish it had found its way to me earlier.
To be honest, I haven’t gotten very far into The Darwin Poems yet. I think I’ve mentioned before that I find it hard to read poetry when I’m in the middle of a writing project (as I am now) because of the extra amount of concentration it requires. It depends on the poetry, of course, and Ballou’s is very accessible, but I think I’ll save it for when I have the chance to enjoy it best.
If I were ever asked as to which writers inspire me stylistically, there are a handful of names I could automatically rattle off: Helen Garner, Dorothy Porter, Hilary Mantel, Maggie Nelson and Anne Enright. Unfortunately, I’ve only just begun The Green Road so can’t comment in full detail – but suffice to say, so far, it doesn’t disappoint.
What are you reading this month?