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The Arsonist
The Arsonist: A Mind on Fire | Chloe Hooper
23 posts | 19 read | 15 to read
On the scorching February day in 2009 that became known as Black Saturday, a man lit two fires in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, then sat on the roof of his house to watch the inferno. In the Valley, where the rates of crime were the highest in the state, more than thirty people were known to police as firebugs. But the detectives soon found themselves on the trail of a man they didn't know. The Arsonist takes readers on the hunt for this man, and inside the strange puzzle of his mind. It is also the story of fire in this country, and of a community that owed its existence to that very element. The command of fire has defined and sustained us as a species - understanding its abuse will define our future. A powerful real-life thriller written with Hooper's trademark lyric detail and nuance, The Arsonist is a reminder that in an age of fire, all of us are gatekeepers.
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review
CarolynM
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Bailedbailed

I'm sorry, book group, I've tried but I just can't do it. I've made it to 100 pages and I am bored rigid. Any more and my brain will atrophy. I'm out.

BarbaraBB 😂 bailing must be a relief! (edited) 1mo
TrishB All for bailing on the boring! 1mo
LeahBergen Bail away, I say! 1mo
See All 8 Comments
Eva2 Oh no! This is one of my favourite books. I thought it was really well written. The second half of the book makes you ask a lot of questions. I read this a while ago and still think about it. 1mo
Cathythoughts The 100 pages test 👍🏻❤️. Time to bail 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 1mo
LeeRHarry Can‘t have brain atrophy - that‘s not a good look! 🤪 glad you decided to handball instead! 😏 1mo
Freespirit On to the next one😊 1mo
57 likes8 comments
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CarolynM
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#BookReport Finished and reviewed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Started The Art of the Engine Driver and Kingdom of the Blind. Also read a couple of not very good romances on my kindle.
#WeeklyForecast Read The Arsonist before Sunday for book group (I'm dragging my heels on this one, I don't really want to read it) and continue with the ones I've started.

Cinfhen @Lizpixie read the Arsonist last year and it sounded really good! What‘s your hesitation??? 1mo
Lizpixie @Cinfhen maybe it‘s because all the fires here at the moment, some of which have been started by arsonists. I know it really upset me when I read it! 1mo
Cinfhen Yes, that could be too close for comfort @Lizpixie @CarolynM 😢 1mo
See All 6 Comments
CarolynM @Cinfhen @Lizpixie The current bushfire situation certainly doesn't help, but I am uncomfortable with true crime anyway, I can't shake the feeling that it's exploitative. Also, I have a (probably unreasonable) negative feeling about the author. 1mo
Cinfhen You make me smile @CarolynM 😘 1mo
LapReader @CarolynM The Arsonist on audio made me cry and I learnt lots about fires. 1mo
67 likes6 comments
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Lizpixie
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#AyUpAugust #Day10 #Stop Nothing could stop the firebug this book is about, certainly not before he started the conflagration in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, on a stinking hot summers day that became known as Black Saturday. The amount of destruction he caused, and the deaths that happened on that day will never be forgotten. In a country like ours, bushfires are a yearly event but some are so vast & destructive they scare even the most jaded.

squirrelbrain Another one of that sounds really interesting - stacked! 5mo
LeeRHarry This was a great read - Chloe Hooper writes such good nonfiction 😊 5mo
Cinfhen I stacked this book when you first posted about it! Sounds like a great NF read 5mo
56 likes1 stack add3 comments
review
LapReader
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Pickpick

On my way home from the Sydney Writer‘s Festival. It was...
I discovered new authors, relaxed, caught up with friends, bought too many books, ate, drank and learnt lots, even things about maths, Kate Bush and Princess Di. Pictures to come.

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myreadingdays
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I have a HUGE amount of reading to get done in May. Mostly because of my ridiculous habit of reserving way too many library books.
But this is the one I‘m most looking forward to reading this month.
Have you read it? Am I right to be excited?

review
ClairesReads
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Pickpick

This is an outstanding example of narrative non-fiction. Hooper explores the complex relationship between the Australian landscape, and its people; the intense power of fire to impact human lives, and the compulsive hold it has over "firestarters", the ethics of a justice system when dealing with those with reduced intellectual capacity, and the responsibility of society to prevent the isolation of people who deviate from our accepted norms.

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ClairesReads
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There is some magnificent writing in this 🔥

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ClairesReads
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Ooooo this is a good one

LeeRHarry It is indeed! 10mo
42 likes1 stack add1 comment
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TheCuriousHousecat
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Pickpick

This is a sad book about an unfortunate child who struggles in the world with undiagnosed autism. Bullied from his school days and through his adult life, he responds with guile and childish pranks. The consequence of this behaviour is a devastating bush fire that destroys many lives. Really good. It‘s a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Victoria_Clyne
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Pickpick

This is look at the investigation and trial in the aftermath of the 2009 Black Saturday fires at Churchill. Hooper takes an in depth analysis of incidents in Australia and tries to present both sides. In this one part one is from the point of view of the police, the second the defence attorney and the third is a summary. This is the second book of hers I've read and its just confirmed how much I enjoy her work.

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Victoria_Clyne
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This is look at the investigation and trial in the aftermath of the 2009 Black Saturday fires at Churchill. Hooper takes an in depth analysis of incidents in Australia and tries to present both sides. In this one part one is from the point of view of the police, the second the defence attorney and the third is a summary. This is the second book of hers I've read and its just confirmed how much I enjoy her work.

review
Lizpixie
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Pickpick

A sobering look at not just the arson & resulting fire, but also of the man accused of starting it. On Black Saturday there were over 400 seperate fires in Victoria, this is the story of just one of them, the Churchill fire, and the subsequent trial & conviction of an autistic man for arson. Highly emotional & very well written. #NonFiction2019 #SomethingPersonal #Pop19 #ReadABookDuringTheSeasonItsSetIn #ReadHarder #ABookOfANonViolentTrueCrime

Riveted_Reader_Melissa Sounds like an emotional read, but a good one. 11mo
49 likes1 comment
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Lizpixie
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“So even the birds here are fire-setters”

Watch out all you tourists, it‘s not just the snakes & sharks that‘ll try to kill you in Australia!🦅

Suet624 Wow. That‘s crazy. 11mo
CarolynM 😂😂😂 Don't forget the drop-bears😉 11mo
31 likes2 comments
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Lizpixie
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3/4 through this book about one of the Black Saturday fires that were deliberately lit. It covers not just the fire, but also the arrest & conviction of the man who set it. Convicted for 10 of the deaths that happened that awful day, he still claims it was “an accident”.😡 I highly recommend watching this documentary from ABCTV
http://youtu.be/dpvM6FoUwMI

LeeRHarry I thought this one was great - absolutely bawled through the victims stories. Still very emotive for me 10 years on. 11mo
65 likes3 stack adds1 comment
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Lizpixie
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Had to take a break from The absolutely brilliant tagged book coz it was making me angry(arsonists should be hung up by their short&curlies😡)So, because I‘m a glutton for punishment, I‘m adding both the #ReadHarderChallenge2019 & the #ReadingWomenChallenge to my challenge journal. Yeah, I‘m an idiot. Trying to make my journal pretty, do you like it? My problem with art always, is knowing when to stop!✋

Purrsistently I love it!! 11mo
aprilpohren It's gorgeous and fun!! Love it! 11mo
Freespirit Gorgeous❤️ 11mo
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Catsandbooks So colorful! Perfect for spring! Do you have a place where you post your journal stuff? 11mo
PurpleyPumpkin That‘s beautiful!😍 11mo
Lizpixie @Purrsistently @aprilpohren @Freespirit @Catsandbooks @PurpleyPumpkin Thanks guys! Even though I‘m obsessed with stationery, this is my first reading journal. I used to love decorating my books at school(got a lot of awards for them🏆)but this is my first attempt as an adult. Quite proud of it😁 11mo
61 likes6 comments
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Lizpixie
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Up next is my #NonFiction2019 #SomethingPersonal & #Pop19 #ReadABookDuringTheSeasonItsSetIn This is about the Bkack Saturday fires on 7thFeb 2009,which were deliberately lit.Australian bushfire storms are living breathing things,they sound like a freight train coming at full speed,they block out the sun & turn the world orange & black.They even generate their own weather called a pyrocumulus cloud that rains liquid soot & fire bullets. Terrifying.

Samplergal Just downloaded this one. Sounds so interesting. Thanks! #somuchfornotbuyingbooks 11mo
Cinfhen Those photos are INTENSE 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥Book sounds super fascinating 11mo
gradcat I, too, think the photos here are really dramatic. I added this book, and I want to suggest one to you that has a similar subject matter. Just a tip! 11mo
See All 15 Comments
Lizpixie @Samplergal #somanybookssolittlefunds💸 @Cinfhen Book so far is brilliant. I‘ve also read one called Kinglake350 by Adrian Hyland, also about Black Saturday & also brilliant. I was caught in a bushfire when I was 15, it was terrifying & I‘ll never forget it. Some years the Blue Mountains are ablaze so intensely that we get embers & ash here, 47kms away from the fire. Some summers are just full of dread, waiting for that orange glow in the sky🔥 11mo
Lizpixie @gradcat thanks for the tip! It‘s already in my litsyTBR👍 Those are actual photos from the fires in the book, Australia in high summer is a dangerous place. 11mo
Cinfhen This book isn‘t available yet in USA kindle 😫😫im gonna check with #BookDepository 11mo
Cinfhen I did see the other two available on Kindle 😄 (edited) 11mo
Cinfhen I can‘t imagine ever being caught in a bushfire - how terrifying that must have been 11mo
Freespirit I need to read this 11mo
Lizpixie @Cinfhen I think book depository has it, if not I can send you a copy if you‘d like. It was terrifying being caught by one, my boyfriend at the time & I were fishing in the Hawkesbury river at a remote spot that was down a long dirt track in bushland. We woke to the smell of smoke, piled it all in the car & started driving out but within a minute we had trees on fire both sides of the car & leaf litter on the track itself in flames. 11mo
Lizpixie I remember soaking shirts with our water bottles & stuffing them around the windows(old car with not so great rubber seals!) We had to crawl down the road, what took us 5 mins the day before, took us an hour to travel. We finally got through but the car had scorch marks all over it & the rubber parts had warped & melted from the heat. Scariest car ride I‘ve ever had.😱 @Cinfhen 11mo
Cinfhen That‘s something you never forget and I‘m sure you walk away knowing your life was sparred. I‘ll check out Book Depository - thanks!! Shipping to & from Australia is expensive especially to Israel. It‘s not worth the cost but thanks for the offer 😘 (edited) 11mo
gradcat Your story of being caught in a bushfire sounds utterly heart-stopping...so glad you & your boyfriend made it out okay! 11mo
Lizpixie @Cinfhen no worries Cindy, I‘m happy to do it if you change your mind. I‘m halfway through and it‘s utterly compelling. @gradcat thank you, it‘s given me a total dread of bushfires since, the fact that it was one way out(a tiny dirt track just out of Wisemans Ferry NSW))made it more terrifying. We seriously thought about abandoning the car and jumping in the river at one point! 11mo
gradcat 😱 So frightening. 11mo
55 likes3 stack adds15 comments
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Lizpixie
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#BookMail Pt4 The last BookMail for this week is another non fiction. This is the story of the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria In February 2009. A man waited for the hottest day of the year, lit two fires in the Latrobe Valleys gum forests, then sat on his roof to watch them burn. 1,100,000 acres burnt, 3,000+ buildings destroyed, 180 people dead. I will never understand a mind that can do such a thing. Australian bushfires are wild things.

Freespirit Terrible! I need to read this. 11mo
50 likes3 stack adds1 comment
review
Redheadrambles
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Pickpick

⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book has just been nominated to the Australian Stella Prize longlist for 2019. It deals with some of the events of the "Black Saturday" Victorian bushfires of February 2009. While the book starts with plenty of bushfire science and arson investigation it quickly becomes a portrait of how the system deals with suspects that are borderline mentally disabled. Not an easy read.

Redheadrambles Ok thanks ! 11mo
LeeRHarry Definitely not an easy read, necessary one though, still breaks my heart. 11mo
25 likes1 stack add3 comments
review
Joanne1
Pickpick

This is a brilliantly researched, nuanced and highly compassionate explanation of the deliberately-lit Churchill bushfire of February 2009. Hooper weaves the history of the Latrobe Valley with police investigation, the devastation of families who lost loved ones as well as houses, property and animals, and the life of convicted arsonist Brendan Sokaluk together to explain the inexplicable. #stellaprize

43 likes1 stack add
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Joanne1
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Lunchtime reading. This book is so, so good!!

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Eva2
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Pickpick

Very very good book! I love the way this author writes and will definitely be reading more. The first part of the book looks at peoples experiences of the Black Saturday bushfires, the subsequent arson investigation and the police officers impressions of the suspect. The rest of the book looks more deeply into his personality. Fascinating reading and highly recommended

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Eva2
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A scary book to be reading in a hot summers day. I‘m only a couple of chapters in but, so far, this is quite harrowing and disturbing.