'The past shapes the present – they teach us that in schools and universities. (Shapes? Infiltrates, more like; imbues, infuses.) This past cannot be visited like an ageing aunt. It doesn’t live in little zoo enclosures. Half the time, this past is nothing less than the beating heart of the present. So, how to speak of the searing, unpindownable power that the past – ours, our family’s, our culture’s – wields in the present?
'Stories are not enough, even though they are essential. And books about history, books of psychology – the best of them take us closer, but still not close enough.
'Maria Tumarkin's Axiomatic is a boundary-shifting fusion of thinking, storytelling, reportage and meditation. It takes as its starting point five axioms:
'These beliefs—or intuitions—about the role the past plays in our present are often evoked as if they are timeless and self-evident truths. It is precisely because they are neither, yet still we are persuaded by them, that they tell us a great deal about the forces that shape our culture and the way we live.
'Axiomatic is Tumarkin's fourth book of non-fiction, and her most pioneering. Her three previous books, Otherland (2010), Courage (2007), and Traumascapes (2005), have each and all been critically acclaimed and shortlisted for major prizes.
'More than seven full and long years in the making, and utilising her time as a Sidney Myer Creative Fellow, Axiomatic actively seeks to reset the non-fiction form in Australia.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'Colin dreams of escaping his parents' New Zealand farm for a grand stage career. He makes it to London and a disastrous audition before meeting Tilda—beautiful Tilda, older, an artist—who brings his future with her. A heady romance leads to a new home in a decaying former bank in a small town hours from Melbourne. They are building a life together—but there are cracks in the foundation. This is a love story, told from passionate beginning to spectacular end. It is intimate and honest, blackly funny and emotionally devastating.' (From the publisher's website.)
'In the magnificent opening story, "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice," a young writer is urged by his friends to mine his father's experiences in Vietnam - and what seems at first a satire on turning one's life into literary commerce becomes a transcendent exploration of homeland, and the ties between father and son. "Cartagena" provides a visceral glimpse of life in Colombia as it enters the mind of a fourteen-year-old hit man facing the ultimate test. In "Meeting Elise" an ageing New York painter mourns his body's decline as he prepares to meet his daughter on the eve of her Carnegie Hall debut. And with graceful symmetry, the final, title story returns to Vietnam, to a fishing trawler crowded with refugees where a young woman's bond with a mother and her small son forces both women to a shattering decision.' (From the author's website.)