Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.
The first review from 2019 is a memoir that is a collection of poems and stories about growing up in a small town in Australia, Small Town Kid by Frank Prem.
About Small Town Kid
Small Town Kid is the experience of regional life as a child, in an insular town during the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, remote from the more worldly places where life really happens, in a time before the internet and the online existence of social media.
It is a time when a small town boy can walk a mile to school and back every day, and hunt rabbits with his dog in the hours of freedom before sundown. He can hoard crackers for bonfire night and blow up the deputy school master’s mailbox in an act of joyous rebellion.
A time when a small town teenager will ride fourteen miles on a bicycle for his first experience of girls, and of love. A time when migrating from a foreign country to a small town means his family will always feel that they are strangers, while visitors to the town are treated like an invading host.
It is also the remembrance of tragedy for inexperienced friends driving on narrow country roads.
This collection of poems and stories shares the type of childhood that has mostly disappeared in contemporary times. Come and revisit it here, in the pages of a Small Town Kid.
My review for the collection
I have read many poetry collections over the years, but Small Town Kid is unusual and intriguingly different. It flows through the different ages of the author from a very small boy to fatherhood, sharing the highs and lows of childhood and the coming of age years.
You are invited in by ‘I can Hardly Wait to Show You‘… that sets the scene of this town where singing waters and scrubby creeks beckon and land supported sheep and gold prospectors tried their luck.
Having accepted that invitation you become a spectator as Oma rocks the cradle of the young child whilst his mother works and makes poppy cakes, and Opa comforts a crying toddler as he contemplates the labour that has gone into cultivating the land around them. We are introduced to other members of this extended family and share in their celebrations, including a wedding in the fire house. This background is important as it highlights the sense of disconnection felt by many immigrant families who settle in a new land and are torn between adapting and still holding on to their old traditions and customs.
We enjoy picnics, and a detailed description of the view from the inside of the outhouse, and its maintenance by the stoic Nightman, and the profitable recycling of newspapers to the butcher. We join in rabbit hunts, school days, drag races, anti-tourist activities, and miscalculations when dispatching rubbish. Easter and the annual fete offer entertainment as does a rather interesting firework distribution method. The teen years bring jostling for status and the discovery that girls have some interesting attributes.
We also share in the lives of members of the group that the author grew up with, including its tragedies. It serves to remind us that however idyllic it might seem to be part of a small town community, it cannot protect you from all of life’s dangers.
I enjoyed all the memories and felt engaged with the young Frank as he navigated through these years. It was brought to life by the storytelling and there was a smooth flow from one story to the next. One of the many personal favourites is ‘Mcalpine’s Cherries’ which mirrored my experience with picking strawberries.
Overall a delightful read that will resonate with readers whose childhood and teen years were considerably simpler than today. I can highly recommend.
Also by Frank Prem
About Frank Prem
I’ve been a storytelling poet for about forty years. Longer in fact, as I remember the first poem I wrote while at secondary school was about 150 – 200 words long and was accepted in lieu of a 500 word essay. I think that may have been the start.
I love to read my work to a live audience, and have audio recorded some recent recordings and popped them on my author page. I have also done some studio- recorded work under the direction and accompaniment of my wife Leanne Murphy that can be listened to there. These poems are on mythological themes and the accompaniment by Leanne makes them a little bit extraordinary.
By profession, I am a psychiatric nurse and have worked across most facets of public psychiatry and the mental health/mental illness spectrum. My experiences and reflections on what I have seen and done are the subject of a forthcoming memoir – scheduled for late 2019, or perhaps more likely, 2020.
I’ve been published in magazines, zines and anthologies, in Australia and in a number of other countries, but for a long time I haven’t sought much publication. The whims of editors are a little too capricious and unknowable, so I have preferred to hone my craft and self-publish on my poetry blogs
Leanne and I reside in the beautiful township of Beechworth in the North-East of Victoria (Australia).
If you are a frequent visitor to the blog you will have seen D.G. Kaye… Debby Gies here many times as a contributor, and supporter. It is no secret that we are friends. This however, does not influence my views on her books, and this applies to her memoir. Twenty Years: After “I Do” : Reflections on Love and Changes Through Aging.
In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break. Kaye’s stories are informative, inspiring, and a testament to love eclipsing all when two people understand, respect, and honor their vows. She adds that a daily sprinkling of laughter is a staple in nourishing a healthy marriage.
Twenty years began with a promise. As Kaye recounts what transpired within that time, she shows that true love has no limits, even when one spouse ages ahead of the other.
My review for Twenty Years After “I Do”
The emphasis on partnership is present throughout D.G. Kaye’s story of her 20 year marriage to Gordon. Whilst it is clear, that theirs was a wonderful love affair from the beginning, she does not flinch from describing the various aspects of their relationship in a very forthright and honest way.
Their relationship is a May/September love affair that was put to the test from very shortly after their marriage. Despite the nearly 20 years age difference, it was Kaye who suffered a near fatal medical emergency, which brought home the fact, it is not necessarily the older partner, who will be the first to suffer ill health.
The book does highlight that in a relationship where there is a significant age difference, issues arise that might not for a couple the same age. Having children for example, or the dynamics in a relationship after retirement and natural aging; reversing the traditional roles, as one becomes more dependent on the other.
D.G. Kaye allows us an intimate view into her marriage, encouraging us to look at our own relationships, appreciate how they have triumphed over challenges over the years, and to celebrate the love that endures.
I certainly recommend the book for those who are about to embark on a relationship, whatever the age difference. In this modern day and age, when the pressures on couples and families are ever present, it is very useful to be offered the experience and guidance from someone who has successfully navigated their way through those same obstacles.
Also by D.G. Kaye
If you are a regular visitor you will have met Debby before as a contributor writing The Travel Column for two years and now The Realm of Relationships 2020. Debby also co-hosts the Laughter Lines twice a week.
Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.
D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.
When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”
“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed past reviews for there recommended books.. thanks Sally.