New e-book and audiobook non-fiction by Frederick Forsyth, Rosie Waterland and Jenny Lawson
by Frederick Forsyth
Frederick Forsyth’s life in words is not unlike a news agency summary, with potted story upon potted story, each succinctly told. Except, of course, that none would read with as much old-world charm. Still identifying himself with the fourth estate (although he calls himself only a “part” journalist), Forsyth, 77, starts his autobiography with his father’s escape from the Japanese invaders of British Malaya. His survival allowed Forsyth’s entry into the world. From there it is swiftly on to his own adventures and the life of a bestselling thriller author. We hear how he was a natural at languages, flying and writing, with news reporting at Reuters and the BBC coming before his career in fiction. Every now and then single sentences underscore his full life: “I had been away three weeks, experiencing one midair near disaster, one civil war, and two uprisings.” Forsyth reveals he was an M16 agent, giving information gleaned while reporting, for example, on the Nigeria-Biafra conflict. Fans of The Day of the Jackal, among his other novels, will learn what sparked the stories.
The Anti Cool Girl
by Rosie Waterland
You either laugh or you cry. That's the case throughout this no-holds-barred memoir by Rosie Waterland. The Australian writer, however, doesn't ask for pity; that's clear in the sometimes off-colour humour she injects into descriptions of even the most abject situations. Scatological in parts and up front about subjects often dealt with coyly - sex among them - The Anti Cool Girl takes readers into Australian territory far from the surf and sun. Waterland's early environment is one of housing commissions: her alcoholic father dies when she is eight; her mother goes from one disastrous relationship to another, has a fling with bisexuality and is unable to hold on to her children, who end up in foster care. During this time Waterland is sexually abused, but being "too young, too confused and too embarrassed", she and her sister decline the request to testify in court. Then come first love; a failed suicide attempt; time in a mental institution; and weight gain to the tune of 90kg. She knew there was a problem, she writes, when "I could no longer wipe my own arse".
by Jenny Lawson
Macmillan Audio (audiobook)
It might not be a good idea to engage in writing as therapy. But that's what Jenny Lawson does - successfully, judging by her popular blog, The Bloggess.com. Her niche is "dark humour mixed with brutally honest periods of mental illness". You might welcome reading about the latter, but when the jokes fall flat, you'll feel like you're part of her "furiously happy" movement. Lawson's kind of happiness is the sort that requires effort. Her own narrator - imagine if Minnie Mouse were sick and spent too much time in Texas, which is how she describes her own voice - Lawson is, and has been for two decades, a high-functioning depressive with severe anxiety disorder, moderate clinical depression and mild self-harm issues. She also has trichotillomania (the urge to pull out her hair). We hear about the drugs she takes (including sleeping pills and antipsychotics, which work with her antidepressants). The chapters swerve and collide into each other, each reading like a blog post, which indicates this would probably work better in a different medium.