australia / community / reading


I have long been a fan of Dr Anita Heiss‘ work as an author, poet, satirist and social commentator. It might even be said that I have a bit of an intellectual crush on her. So imagine my delight when I found myself in Twitter conversation with her. Imagine my epic joy when she sent me a copy of her book Manhattan Dreaming after I entered her Valentine’s Day tweet-off with a very silly reference to venereal disease (GET IT?!!!! ZOMG I AM SO WITTY).

I thought about writing a review of this heartful and hilarious page-turner. However, I’ve never been the book club type (put another way, much of my life is taken up with the laugh-a-minute, never-ending book club that is scholarship). So, I couldn’t resist the opportunity (raised by @fairerfields, who shared the VD loot) to write some ‘book club notes’ for Manhattan Dreaming. Behold!

– What is the role of friendship between women in Lauren’s journey ‘from Manuka to Manhattan’?

– How do family and community matter in Lauren’s story?

– What helps Lauren to find love, respect and romance in her life?

– What does that love, respect and romance look like?

– How is Lauren’s story a Koori story? an Australian story? an international story?

– What is the role of communication technology and social media in the relationships in the book?

– Reading the book, when were you surprised? Why were you surprised?

– Heiss’ Mr Right and Dreaming books have been labelled ‘chick lit’, ‘Koori lit’ and ‘Koori chick-lit‘, with Heiss herself earning the nickname Koori Bradshaw à la Sex and the City. How fitting are these labels?*

– Check out** the work of some of the visual artists and musicians that Lauren promotes in her job as a senior curator.***

*Heiss’ characters have much better sex than the SATC ladies IMHO.

**I know, not a question. But you won’t regret it.

***My personal favourites include Destiny Deacon and The Last Kinection.

6 thoughts on “#ManhattanDreaming

  1. I was lucky to get a copy too with a tweet I can’t even remember anymore… rest assured, yours is far more witty. 🙂

    Great questions you’ve got and wouldn’t it be nice to actually explore all of them. What I will sort-of answer is the ‘chick-lit’ one and comm’n tech.

    I don’t read chick-lit and have been accused of being a literary snob. I think “Manhattan Dreaming” does fall into this category but with moments of deep insight particularly relative to art and family. Personally, I would have preferred more of the latter and less of the ‘chick-lit-ness’. I would have preferred more dialogue about art between Lauren and her colleagues. But I’m sure Anita chose this genre and stuck to it with skill. I’m quite curious to read her non-chick-lit books now.

    The book would make fascinating discussions on social media and if not for the “adult” content, would love to do so with high school kids. Maybe HS kids read chick lit as they watch SATC show/movie. Hmmm….

    Anyway, thanks for this platform to share some thoughts on the book.

    3 cheers for Anita as well for her generosity and wit.

  2. Hey thanks for your thoughts Malyn! I love the idea of high school readers engaging with the book alongside SATC.

    And/or maybe Anita could add some “YA fiction” to her writing arsenal!

  3. Great questions to start a discussion!

    (I was a tweet winner too.) I think writing Anita off as Chick Lit actually does her a disservice. Or rather I think the labelling of women writers like Anita as Chick Lit authors, undermines the value of their literary contributions.

    This was so much more than a modern day love story for the modern girl. She touched on issues of Identity, cultural appropriation, colonisation, politics, and whole host of other indigenous issues. (Though she didn’t delve into them too deeply. To do so would have damaged the story, but the fact that she did mention them helps to open those topics up for examination. )

    Where SATC tends to revolve more closely around relationships and navigating relationships with work and other desires, Manhattan Dreaming is about that and all those other things I mentioned. SATC is much less inclusive of all women. So you could say MD is a little more multicultural.

    It’s also nice to read a book about Indigenous women who break the stereotypical moulds. In MD we have no less than 3 strong Indigenous women characters. Anita’s book is more than just entertaining. There’s a whole dialogue happening beneath the surface.

    I too, can’t wait to read her other books. And yes, I agree, I think she would be able to do YA particularly well.

  4. Awesome.

    “there’s a whole dialogue happening beneath the surface” – now that’s entertainment! 😉

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