Sneaky Cheeseboards

story / Gazella Loves / September 25, 2022

We’re back and welcome to Spring!

Some things that have been keeping us occupied!

READ | ‘Drop Bear’ Evelyn Araluen | RL

I am not typically drawn to poetry; but as the Winner of the Stella Prize for 2022, I couldn’t resist picking up Drop Bear.

This fierce debut from award-winning writer Evelyn Araluen confronts the tropes and iconography of an unreconciled nation with biting satire and lyrical fury.

Dropbear interrogates the complexities of colonial and personal history with an alternately playful, tender and mournful intertextual voice, deftly navigating the responsibilities that gather from sovereign country, the spectres of memory and the debris of settler-coloniality.

This innovative mix of poetry and essay offers an eloquent witness to the entangled present, an uncompromising provocation of history, and an embattled but redemptive hope for a post-colonial future.

I can’t thank Evelyn enough for this incredible collection. Unsettling and uncomfortable, this book leads you to analyse Australian history, society and relationships with traditional owners and colonialism. The weight of the words stay with you.

4/5 brains in overdrive!


READ | ‘Before you Knew my Name’ Jacqueline Bublitz | DS

‘Maybe the people who appear brave are merely doing the thing they have to do’

The story follows Ruby, running to New York to leave a relationship with a married man that she doesn’t seem overly committed to, but can’t seem to extricate herself from – because it makes her feel loved.

‘Stardust, then, is both the end and beginning of things. A galactic reminder that birth and death are not so very different.’

And the story follows Alice, a young girl with a life to live, finding herself and her feet with some kindness in New York. Until her life is taken one early morning.

‘So that when the man’s passion is spent, it is the quiet rage of women that lingers, can be seen, glittering from above.’

The chance encounter between Ruby and Alice unfolds into a story that floats between the supernatural (Alice’s spirit) and a crime thriller. But so much of the prose is beautiful. Framed by the fear women have going about their lives crashing into the anger and egos of men who would do them harm. Addictive. I could read this again.

4 out of 5 hands of stardust.


WATCH | Dahmer, Netflix | DS

Perhaps a controversial recommendation and certainly grisly in it’s details. I love true crime, but also find it uncomfortable how we often glamourise and fetishise serial killing. What I can say about the series is the victims are often centred and their humanity is often forefront, which seems a bit of a contrast to Netflix’s Ted Bundy film Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile. What is great is that we get the story of Glenda Cleveland, Dahmer’s neighbour at the height of his killing spree. She tried to save one of the victims and through calls to the police was summarily ignored (as a black woman in a black neighbourhood). Actress Niecy Nash who plays Cleveland is outstanding. She stated “Glenda was one of his victims too, and her story has been told the least.”

If you can deal with the grisly details, this is a great telling of one of humanity’s most depraved people. And the search from those around him, about how it all went wrong.

3.5/5 Grisly Details


READ | ‘Cultish’ Amanda Montell | DS

A great deep dive into cults. How and why they form, their enigmatic leaders, how people fall in, and how they get out. With great chapter titles such as ‘Even YOU Can Learn to Speak in Tongues’ and ‘Do you Wanna Be a #BossBabe?’
Montell addresses the language used by cults, such as thought-terminating cliches (such as, ‘…why don’t you sit with that?’), which provide a ‘temporary psychological sedative’ and ‘squash independent thinking’, and how cults invoke higher powers to imbue words with meaning. As well as social media’s favourite – confirmation bias. She equates what cults and religions do with a form of gaslighting (which she notes is a specific and useful terms that gets bounced around too much).

‘When language works to make you question your own perceptions, whether at work or at church, that’s a form of gaslighting.’

The book is called “Cultish” because not all cults by definition fit the mould of the likes of Jonestown. She talks about MLMs (which are crazy), workout cults like CrossFit and SoulCycle, and cults of appropriation (see #namaslay). In her words ‘we’ve created the secular “cults” we deserve.’ A great and thoroughly interesting read.

4 out of 5 Tupperware containers


READ | “Send Nudes” Saba Sams | DS

Another book I picked up because the name grabbed me and the colour of the cover was a delicious shade of Barbie magenta. A collection of short snippets of life that can be read as parts or as one giant whole (I read the book in one go). I can’t quite put my finger on why all the stories have a similar feel. Maybe it’s Saba Sams voice shining through. Or maybe it’s the feeling of modernism she brings to these stories of strangeness, love, pain, sometimes melancholy and sometimes hilarity. I can just recommend that if you want a quick read to break up your day, this is a great collection.

4 out of 5 Nudes


READ : ‘Exit West’ Mohsin Hamid | RL

This was one of my favourite books I read in the grim depths of 2020. I recently heard the author speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival and was reminded of his genius. Mohid spoke of the importance of imagination in adults. That books create the opportunity for our minds to develop and evolve colourful and lively worlds from black words on a white page.

His novels tackle life’s big questions and I can’t wait to start the latest take on Racism – The Last White Man, but for now, here is an overview of Exit West:

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

5/5 – Mystical perspectives of the refugee experience.


WATCH | Fearless: The Inside Story of The AFLW | RL

Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t really get around sports, but throw inspirational women into the mix and I am absolutely here for it. Usually I take a sneaky cheeseboard along to AFLW games to support the scene while still living my best life. But the weekly episode release of Fearless has created the perfect middle ground for a documentary loving, sports adjacent, feminist fan girl.

This inspiring series is about more than football. With AFLW at the forefront of celebrating diversity and inclusion and redefining gender norms, the series will explore the journey, sacrifice and history in the making, as the trailblazing players pave the way in professional sport and help change the sporting and cultural psyche of Australia.

4/5 legends doing their thing.


WATCH | Heartbreak High, Netflix | DS

If you’re old enough to have sneakily watched some of the old Heartbreak High as a kid – raise your hand…

This new take is classic YA. But I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it. Skins vibes and it’s been compared with Euphoria (which I haven’t watched) and apparently Puberty Blues (as my dance students tell me). A cast of diverse, carefully and well crafted characters, who are partially based around the actors themselves. Amerie is great, though at times a questionable friend (played by Ayesha Madon, who is fabulous). Harper her former bestie (Asher Yasbineck) is clearly dealing with a lot of shit. I read that Amerie’s new friends, Darren (played amazingly by James Majoos) and Quinni (also very sharply played by Chloé Hayden) – were created after the actors were cast. Darren, like Majoos, is non-binary, and Quinni, like Hayden, is autistic. Quinni marks the first time a neurodivergent role has been played by a neurodivergent actor on Australian TV…which is an frustrating and astounding fact. Great to see a high budget, Australian production, with a great soundtrack.

Listening to my dance students talk about it over the holidays, they thought the show was hectic. But I love how the themes are so wide-ranging that it appears to have hit the mark with being relevant to Gen Z, whilst still bloody enjoyable to a Millennial – though I cringe at how close minded we must have been at school compared to these kids.

Great binge session. Also had to Google what an ‘eshay’ was…

4/5 Would love to not have had to wear a school uniform. And loved the fashion – especially the keenly spied Dyspnea. 

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