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ABR Arts

Book of the Week


Thunderhead by Miranda Darling

A feminist triumph and homage to Virginia Woolf, Miranda Darling’s Thunderhead is a potent exploration of suburban entrapment for women. The novella opens with a complex satire of Ian McEwan’s response to Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925) in his novel Saturday (2005). All three books are set over the course of a single day, where the intricacies of both the quotidian and extraordinary occur. In this novella’s opening paragraphs, Darling’s protagonist, Winona Dalloway, wakes to see the sky ablaze through her window. While ‘it is dawn in the suburbs of the east’ – rather than a burning plane, evoking 9/11 terrorism, as in McEwan’s novel – she believes it ‘telegraphs a warning, red sky in the morning’. This refers to the opening of Mrs Dalloway, where Clarissa Dalloway feels, ‘standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen’.




From the Archive

April 2003, no. 250

Handbook Of Australian, New Zealand And Antarctic Birds: Volume 6: Pardalotes To Shrike-Thrushes edited by P.J. Higgins and J.M. Peter

According to my dictionary, a handbook is ‘a short manual or guide-book’. Somebody ought to inform the ornithological world of this, because ‘handbook’ has come to be applied to huge, multi-volume compendia about the bird faunas of particular regions. These books aim to present clearly and concisely all available knowledge about each species, drawing together observations and data from innumerable scientific journals, books, museum specimens, and field notes of scientists and bird watchers. Inevitably, they are massive compilations, running to thousands of pages. They certainly cannot be carried easily. However, they have developed a tradition of fine scholarship and precise writing and illustration, building on the high standards set by the first such work, the four-volume Handbook of British Birds (Witherby et al. 1938–41). Their contribution to bird research and conservation has been immense.

From the Archive

June 2009, no. 312

The Sweet and Simple Kind: A novel Of Sri Lanka by Yasmine Gooneratne

The Gooneratnes’ mountain bungalow, overlooking rippling tea plantations, is called Pemberley, after Mr Darcy’s mansion. A wall plaque commemorates Elizabeth Bennet’s description of it. In the style of a modern Jane Austen, Yasmine Gooneratne takes up the enduring and universal question of who will marry whom, as Vikram Seth did in his mega-novel A Suitable Boy (1994), and at similarly entertaining length. The topic is Bollywood’s favourite too, but before writing The Sweet and Simple Kind, Professor Gooneratne, a specialist in eighteenth-century fiction and poetry, had not seen the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

From the Archive

June 1982, no. 41

The Performing Arts in Contemporary China by Colin Mackerras

Here is all you ever wanted to know about Chinese theatre and didn’t know whom to ask! Who better anywhere to ask than Professor Colin Mackerras? A distinguished sinologist, Chairman of the School of Modem Asian Studies at Griffith University, he speaks Chinese fluently, taught English in Shanghai from 1964–66, and has visited China regularly since then totting up a remarkable miscellany of visits – to theatres, academies, conservatoria, cinemas, commune, and factory performances and talks with dramatists, critics, composers and ‘the masses’.