Blog Posts on Tall And True

Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud. ~ Andrew Sullivan

Tall And True showcases the writing — fiction, nonfiction, reviews and blog posts — of writer and podcaster Robert Fairhead. Guest Writers are also invited to share and showcase their writing on the website. 

The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton

Tim Winton Wows Again

My first Tim Winton was Cloudstreet, bought in 1992 shortly after he'd won a second Miles Franklin Award. I've since added ten more Wintons to my bookcase. I enjoyed reading each book, but, for me, none had the wow impact of Cloudstreet. And then I read Winton's latest novel, The Shepherd's Hut. Wow!

Gift of 1000 Pencils

The Gift of 1000 Pencils

It was my birthday recently. My brother and sister-in-law gave me a charity gift of 1000 pencils to be sent by Unicef to children in need to help further their education. The gift reminded me of my backpacking days, travelling in East Africa, besieged by kids begging for pens and pencils.

300 #bookcovers & #firstsentences posts on Instagram

300 Book Covers and First Sentences

On January 11, 2018, I launched a #bookcovers and #firstsentences homage series on Instagram with On the Beach by Nevil Shute. I celebrated the 300th post on March 22, 2019, with The Natural World of New Zealand by Gerard Hutching. All books are from my bookcase. So much for Marie Kondo's 30-book rule!

The Intrepid Dervla Murphy

The Intrepid Dervla Murphy

In A Book of Travellers' Tales (Picador 1985), Eric Newby describes Dervla Murphy as: "Intrepid Irish traveller, mostly in Asia and Ethiopia, on bicycles or with quadrupeds, or local transport." Her tale is titled: "A lone female cyclist deals with a randy Kurd on the Turkish-Iranian frontier, 1963."

Woman in the Window

The Man Behind The Woman in the Window

I am a sucker for a good book cover. So, while I hadn't registered the hype about A. J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window, the book had caught my eye in a bookshop. And as I am also a fan of Jimmy Stewart's Alfred Hitchcock movies, I was intrigued by its homage to the 1954 classic, Rear Window.

Distractions - Do Not Disturb


Writers need to shut out distractions and focus on our writing. But sometimes, we find excuses not to write: household chores, children to be fed and ferried to and from school, and lives to be led. Or we're setting up a new dog training venture. At least, that's been my excuse for the past month.

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not one for making New Year's Resolutions, possibly because I don't trust myself to keep them. However, while on holiday at the end of 2004, a barista with whom I made friends over morning coffee fixes talked me into writing a list for 2005. And I recently found the list and my year-end review.

Year of Books (2018)

My Year of Books (2018)

It's my habit to read in bed at night. And after ten to fifteen minutes of reading, my eyes get a little tired, and I often wake to find the book resting on my face. It takes me a long time to read a book from cover to cover. So I was surprised by the size of my "year of books" pile for 2018.

Dog Club Fun Day Sack Race

For the Sake of a Story

The local dog club where I was a volunteer for twenty years ran a season-ending Fun Day with events like Fancy Dress, Agility Slalom, Waggliest Tail and other novelty races that changed from year to year. One of my favourites was the Sack Race, in which my dear old dog and I always placed third.

Selby's Joke Book

Book Inscriptions

Recently, I found Selby's Joke Book in my teenage son's bookshelf. Inside the front cover were inscriptions that told me the book had once belonged to a young girl, Grace. Judging by the handwriting in pencil, phonetic spelling, and her *knock-konck* joke, Grace was very young when she wrote in it.

Writing Tips on Tall And True

Three Writing Tips

Wannabe writers and aspiring authors are always looking for writing tips. I've bought books, attended classes, read blogs, listened to podcasts, and printed pointers from the web. But as with the forest for the trees idiom, it can be hard to find useful tips among a wealth of well-meaning advice.

#TallAndTrue posts on Instagram

Celebrating 200 Instagram Posts

In mid-October 2018, I posted my 200th #bookcovers and #firstsentences photo and quote to Instagram (posting as @tallandtruebooks). The series is an eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction books, all from my bookshelf. And to celebrate (a little belatedly), here is another selection of posts from Instagram.

Where's Malcolm tweet from a week in politics

My Week in Politics

Since 2007, I've sat and watched Australian politics stumble from one self-obsessed stuff-up to the next. Resulting in the revolving door prime ministerships of Rudd-Gillard-Rudd and Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison, and the rise of crackpot fringe politicians. In the past week, I stood up and took action.

Buddha meditating

My First Buddhist Lesson

It was my younger brother's idea to attend the Buddhist lesson. He said the class was in the back room of a pub, a short walk from my flat, which was handy because we were running late and my bladder felt full as we headed out the door. To save time, I decided to hold on until we got to the pub.

Lenin's Tomb, Red Square, Moscow

Thanks for the memories, Travel Journal

In 1993 my wife and I took a package trip, "Seven Nights in Moscow and St. Petersburg". Reading my travel journal, I am amazed at how much we fitted into our seven nights — it helped our trip was in July, the northern hemisphere summer, the nights were short in Russia and the daylight hours very long.

Tennis ball - game, set and lost!

Wimbledon Lost in Translation

My girlfriend and I had travelled all day to reach the small farming town of Nijemirdum, in the northern Netherlands state of Friesland, to visit the parents of an old housemate. "My mother will be pleased to see you," Jan had assured. The bewildered look on Mrs B's face indicated otherwise.

Playing with my muse for writing on dogs

My Good Dog and Muse

I met Harry when he was six months old. He was the last of his litter, hiding under a kitchen table. And when the breeder dragged him out, Harry flopped his head on my leg and looked up at me with worried, brown eyes. At that moment, a bond formed between us, which lasted for just over twelve years. 

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