This is a great fiction companion to Chris Hammer’s The River. Through greed, climate change, and long-term mismanagement, Australia’s river system is stuffed, in real life. The Last Pulse is about a man from a small town in South Australia that has been devastated by the long drought and the government’s mismanagement of water. He takes his young daughter to Queensland, where he blows up the dam that has robbed everyone downstream of their livelihood, and rides the flood he created all the way down the country. It’s a black comedy about a truly tragic environmental situation. There are endearing characters, dastardly villains (Queenslanders!), and a joyful, if not particularly hopeful, journey.
Before he became a novelist, journalist Chris Hammer took a journey following the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin. This book is the result, and it is a fascinating account of the people who live in this area, what has happened to the rivers at the hands of the government, farming and the weather, and what the future might hold. There is a lot to worry about; at times it is depressing, and on the whole the future seems bleak, but there is also a lot of great, Aussie spirit where people are doing it tough, and this book is full of their stories.
This is a novel about trees. It begins by slowly introducing a series of characters and their connection to trees, goes on to connect the characters to each other, and ends up connecting everything. It is grand and vast, with an interesting structure, but also digs deep into each character’s life and heart. It is climate fiction without being dystopian; thought-provoking and a warning, but also hopeful. A slow, but beautiful read.
Well, that was a significant time commitment! I feel so light and free, now that I have finished it, and yet, it was a surprisingly easy burden. The endless specifics of whaling are hardly a subject I am interested in, and yet, at times, I just had to read it aloud. The story of Ishmael, Queequeg, Ahab, and his crew, is often funny as well as strange and ultimately moving. I am happy to have read this, and to never have to go whaling.
Bees are fascinating, beautiful, important little creatures, and I thoroughly enjoyed imagining life in a hive. Flora 717 is different from the other bees, even those from her own, low born kin, and through her journey we get to see the many different jobs of bees in a hive. This particular hive has dark secrets, that Flora cannot escape. There is a very strong sense of place and scent, compelling characters, and a tale of sisterhood, faith, love, betrayal, strength and sacrifice.