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Troll: a love story

Troll: A love story, by Johanna Sinisalo

A review.. Although this book is not perfect, I appreciated the troll character and its interaction with urban gay male culture and the way the protagonist slowly gets obsessed with the young cub. The protagonist had to research many fragments of troll culture and history to inform himself about his new foundling. This was interspersed between very short chapters.
At times this book was hilariously melodramatic and reached high farce.
I asked myself if that was intended to counter the advertising world Angel and Martes worked in. Apparently, Sinisalo wanted to bring the mythical and the humdrum worlds together, in interiors and apartments. A trolls’ world is outside, so I did enjoy this questioning of domesticating a wild animal, of getting at why they were coming to the edge of the cities, and of what it means to love something, even something bestial. However, placing these themes side by side with gay characters is questionable. Gays and queers are still compared to the bestial and charges of bestiality by the Christian right still occur. So I found this unsettling and not handled with enough political finesse. The writing was not poetic and was emotionally detached. But perhaps the Finnish is different and we are missing some of these subtleties in translation.

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A single take through western Sydney

The Tribe, by Michael Mohammed Ahmad. In this novella, Ahmad brings detailed family relationships to life within a minority Shi’ite Lebanese community in western Sydney. He does so from the perspective of a young boy at varying ages (between 7 and 11). I gained insight into kinship, tradition, and cultural identity through the curious character, Bani. At times, the language of the narrator did not seem match the excess of the content: the huge Arab wedding and dance scenes, scents and smells, the lead up to a fight, women’s and men’s bodies and clothes, illness and love of family. But maybe this disjunction indicates the difficulty of being socialised within ‘the tribe’ and looking out into other cultures, even other Arab traditions in Australia. The book conveyed a tight range of affects. It did not crack open it’s ‘show not tell’ techniques, so loved in writing courses. Rather, the whole thing unfolded like a single take (the Russian Ark) in film, as we see cousins and aunties and uncles and the suburban houses come and go in the present tense. Sometimes I got the feeling the youngster was overwhelmed by his tribe and confused by his role in it, and then there were times when Ahmad was a little heavy handed by concluding elements.

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h2o

Putting my feet in the water with the little fish and watching a pelican take off. Lucky to have Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve so close to the city, thriving amongst the western suburbs. I was surprised when I first came across this place at the back of large houses as it seemed like a hidden national park. Its condition can be explained by the fact that the land was isolated from development for over 80 years because it was a coastal rifle range. Now the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary protects all kinds of marine life. There is a saltmarsh area that has the largest occurrence of mangroves in Port Phillip Bay. This sanctuary is part of the Country of the Boonwurrung people, and I acknowledge their elders here.

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Meet and Greet

This collaborative soundscape composition eventuated through video calls and audio file exchange with experimental musician/composer/artist Rangga Purnama Aji (Yogyakarta, Indonesia). His artwork appears below and the resulting piece can be listened to on his youtube channel. As I let go of some of the timbres of rave and jungle that have informed my recent electronic music, I find renewal in collaborative projects such as this, and the sonic intersubjectivities these bring to the surface.

 

Melanie me cover art

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squeaking

A month and a move. Changing suburb is like waking up. Like getting hurt, moving crab-like and sunning yourself in the heat of the day. Draw this, hear this taste this? The firemen are gardening today and the other morning fooling around on a segue. Planning is difficult when there is all this to look at and then the bustle down the road is bursting with vim. Markets beckon. Every day the firepeople test their gear at regular intervals, but moments become sonic details, a harried boxing object, the bounce-echo of basketball irregularly played, mostly male voices rising up together in a cry to their engines, water draining. They go out when the community calls. In the summer months, their community is needy and must be reassured as well as saved. Siren tests fold over sensor sounds and truck sirens. The trees squeak with the sirens today, the first thirty-eight degree day of summer. Winding windy.