Travels with Epicurus
Daniel Klein
Text, A$29.99

The Greek island of Hydra has been getting publicity recently for its 1960s visitors, such as Leonard Cohen. American philosopher Klein also played hippie tourist there. Now in old age, he returns with a suitcase of books. He also has a quest for happy old age. His guide is the work of the ancient philosopher Epicurus, generally misunderstood as a hedonist. Klein shows we can make the best of what we have.


Two Pints
Roddy Doyle
Jonathan Cape, A$17.95

<p></p>Two Irish mates meet in a bar, men of a certain age facing an uncertain world. Over their pints they discuss current affairs, the family, football and the world. The talk can get very dark, but also very funny. Doyle has a pitch-perfect ear for idiom, making a few words speak volumes. It runs the gamut from Irish realism to the surreal. Imagine Clarke and Dawe, without the visuals, as two foul-mouthed old Irishmen. For the blokes.

The Black Box
Michael Connelly
Allen & Unwin, A$32.99

<p></p>The 16th Harry Bosch book takes our hero down the mean streets of old LA and back in time. Bosch is assigned a cold case, a woman killed during the Rodney King riots. She was a freelance photojournalist chasing a story that got her killed? Bosch begins to follow the leads. One ingredient in the mix appears to be an Australian case; true crime transforming into fiction. As ever with Connelly, sterling stuff.


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Non-fiction that reads like fiction. A perfect book - not a word wasted, not a phrase wrong. The gradual reveal of story details, the development of character, the anatomy of a well-publicised crime that still manages to be shocking and suspenseful. It is seamless, significant and beautiful. Capote knew it was a masterpiece when he finished it. I wish I could spend six years writing one novel. What an impressive time commitment; what an enviable achievement.

Paullina Simons.Paullina Simons. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Russian-born Paullina Simons lives in the US and is the best-selling author of nine novels and a cookbook. Her latest novel is Children of Liberty (HarperCollins, $29.99).