The 2019 lists by Vin Maskell



Death Of A Typographer by Nick Gadd
You like fonts? You like murder mysteries?  You like 1970s Dutch prog rock? You’ll love Melbourne writer Nick Gadd’s second novel. ‘Clever, witty and very stylish,’ said The Age.  Lots of fun.

Preservation by Jock Serong
The man from Port Fairy can do no wrong. Four very different novels: fishing/drugs, cricket/corruption, surfing/border protection and now serial murders/colonial Australia. And the treacherous villain lives to tell another tale.

Room For A Stranger by Melanie Cheng
An elderly woman is seeking company. A young international student needs a home. Two lives intersect as Cheng – a quiet writer – deftly explores broader themes.

The White Girl by Tony Birch
A loving grandmother protects her growing granddaughter from the clutches of the law and the White Australia policy. Small country town. Sixty or so years ago. One story tells many.

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
Thirteen years in the making. A working class family saga spanning 585 pages, five brothers, a dying mother, an absent father. Athletics, horse racing, young love. And a bridge.

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton
It’s Winton. Say no more.

The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck (1942)
Part parable, part propaganda perhaps. A slim novel that reads like a play, about the invasion of a small un-named coastal town in Europe. I read it one sitting, and then learnt that it had been secretly translated and distributed throughout Europe during the Second World War.

To A God Unknown by John Steinbeck (1935)
A family/farming/quasi-Biblical story set on a ranch in California in the early 20
th century. About faith and flesh and the earth. ‘Took me a while to get into the rhythm of the prose, and the themes, but Steinbeck’s description of the forces of nature – of flood and drought and birth and death – stand the test of time. By coincidence I had it in my back pocket while watching the Springsteen concert movie Western Stars, filmed on a ranch in a big barn built in the 1880s.


Gently revealing comedy from Britain. Two blokes are detectorists, searching for the meaning of life and love and work and friendship while uncovering trash and treasure from English fields. Kind of reminds me of two blokes I know who go around searching for old scoreboards and abandoned cricket pitches…

Stumbling across repeats at half-past ten at night. Reminds me of classic story-writing skills, and fond memories of family nights with all five of us laughing out loud.

I pretend I’m not watching. Too grim. I pretend I’m doing the crossword. But the subtitles are on so I’ve got some idea of what’s being said in those Scottish accents. And the scenery is lovely. Eventually I fail to stop myself from saying to Julie: “So, the fisherman. He killed his brother 25 years ago. Dumped him in the loch. Is that right?”

Midsomer Murders
I pretend I’m not watching. Too corny. I pretend I’m doing the nine-letter word puzzle. But the shenanigans are hard to avoid and eventually I fail to stop myself from saying to Julie: “So, is it going to be the antique dealer, the town-hall keeper, the post-mistress, or the psychic?” (Usually it’s someone else.)

Test cricket

I turn off whenever Warner is batting, saying to myself, “Why do I get more upset about David Warner than I do about, say, the plight of our refugees, of our homeless, of  our struggling, and  about the behaviour and policies of  our politicians, and about Syria and Hong Kong and Afghanistan and West Papua and so many other places and peoples?  Am I really so shallow?”

Local cricket

So much action right here in front me, as I sit barefooted on the soft grass, with the beach and a short swim  just a minute away?


To my son Reuben playing drums on Into His Arms, debut single for Oliver Northam & the Elsewheres.

To my wife Julie playing accordion most nights. Such an underrated instrument.

To my younger brother singing Drive all Night at what you might call a family concert.

To Springsteen’s Western Stars album via a cinema screening. Saw it twice. What a treat.


Table-tennis balls with my mates Walter and JD, and thinking, “This’ll keep the ageing at bay.” Or at least delay the inevitable.


The footy on Sunday morning with a few mates.  See ‘Hitting’ above.


Further viewing…

Scoreboard Pressure

Oliver Northam & The Elsewheres

Abandoned cricket pitches


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