Avid Staff Top 10 Series: Krissy


Welcome to the next installment of our staff top 10 series. 

This week we are featuring the top picks of Krissy Kneen. Krissy is the award winning author of the memoir Affection, the novels SteeplechaseTriptychThe Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine, and An Uncertain Grace, as well as the Thomas Shapcott Award winning poetry collection Eating My Grandmother. She has written and directed broadcast documentaries for SBS and ABC television, has a subscription based series with The Lifted Brow called Strangers in the Dark, and after all that still has time to be the events co-ordinator at Avid Reader! Krissy has chosen a fascinating mix of fiction, poetry, and graphic literature. Be sure to have your 'to be read' list close by for these extra additions.


In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Holmes, part Maori, part European. Kerewin is an artist estranged from her art and a woman in exile from her family. One night, her solitude is disrupted by a visitor - a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon's feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality. [Fiction]

HERE by Richard McGuire

Here is Richard McGuire's unique graphic novel based on his legendary 1989 comic strip of the same name. Built in six pages of interlocking panels dated year by year, the novel collapses time and space to tell the story of the corner of a room and its inhabitants between the years 500,957,406,073 BC and 2033 AD. The strip remains one of the most influential and widely discussed contributions to the comic medium. [Graphic Novel]

THE ENGLISH PATIENT by Michael Ondaatje

With ravishing beauty and unsettling intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II: Hana, the exhausted nurse; Caravaggio, the maimed thief; and Kip, the wary sapper. Each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burned man who lies in an upstairs room and with memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue. [Fiction]

COSMICOMICS by Italo Calvino

Italo Calvino's extraordinary imagination and intelligence combine here in an enchanting series of stories about the evolution of the universe. He makes characters out of mathematical formulae and simple cellular structures. They disport themselves among galaxies, experience the solidification of planets, move from aquatic to terrestrial existence, play games with hydrogen atoms, and have a love life. During the course of these stories, Calvino toys with continuous creation, the transformation of matter, and the expanding and contracting reaches of space and time. He succeeds in relating complex scientific concepts to the ordinary reactions of common humanity. [Fiction/ Short Stories]

JULIUS WINSOME by Gerard Donovan

Julius Winsome lives in a cabin in the hunting heartland of the Maine woods, with only his books and his dog for company. That is until the morning he finds that his dog has been shot dead - and not by accident. Gerard Donovan weaves an extraordinary tale of revenge that is also a tender and heartbreaking paean to lost love. [Fiction]


The award-winning poet Anne Carson reinvents a genre in Autobiography of Red, a stunning work that is both a novel and a poem, both an unconventional re-creation of an ancient Greek myth and a wholly original coming-of-age story set in the present. By turns whimsical and haunting, erudite and accessible, richly layered and deceptively simple, Autobiography of Red is a profoundly moving portrait of an artist coming to terms with the fantastic accident of who he is. [Poetry]


Jimmy Corrigan has been hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever published. It is the tragic autobiography of an office dogsbody in Chicago who one day meets the father who abandoned him as a child. With a subtle, complex and moving story, and illustrations that are as simple and original as they are strikingly beautiful, Jimmy Corrigan is a book unlike any other. [Graphic Novel]


Touring Paris and provincial France in a borrowed car, Philip Dean, a Yale dropout, embarks on an affair with a young French woman named Anne-Marie. Their liaison is imagined with candour and sensitivity by an unnamed narrator whose fantasies become compellingly and hauntingly real. A Sport and A Pastime has been hailed as a watershed in American fiction of the 1960s, remarkable for its eroticism, its luminous prose, and its ability to blur the boundaries of reality and dream life, daytime and nighttime, soul and flesh. [Fiction]

BLUETS by Maggie Nelson

A lyrical, philosophical, and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limitations of visions and love, as refracted through the colour blue. [Poetry]


In The Chronology of Water, Lidia Yuknavitch expertly moves the reader through issues of gender, sexuality, violence, and family from the point of view of a lifelong swimmer turned artist. In writing that explores the nature of memoir itself, her story traces the effect of extreme grief on a young woman's developing sexuality that some define as untraditional because of her attraction to both men and women. Her emergence as a writer evolves at the same time and takes the narrator on a journey of addiction, self-destruction, and ultimately survival that finally comes in the shape of love and motherhood. [Memoir]