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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

June-July 2006, no. 282

Hayek’s Challenge: An intellectual biography of F.A. Hayek by Bruce Caldwell

On February 19 this year, Francis Fukuyama jumped ship. In the course of an essay in the New York Times on the failings of the American strategy to ‘democratise’ the Middle East, he declared that, ‘I have numerous affiliations with different strands of the neo-conservative movement’, but ‘neo-conservatism, both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support’. The neo-conservative project, he stated, has become self-contradictory. Though the Bush administration retains an evolutionistic scepticism about the limits of social engineering in domestic matters, it feels no such restraint in foreign policy, where its faith in the transformational uses of American power and in the exceptionalism of American virtue has overcome traditional doubts about the malleability of humanity.

From the Archive

November 2001, no. 236

The Black Butterfly by Kathleen Stewart

When you think about it, public swimming pools are strange places. Semi-naked bodies saunter about, while others battle against gravity in speed-designated lanes. Perhaps it is no surprise that these sites of aqua profonda dominate recent fiction. Whether the pools are in Paris or Fitzroy, they act as metaphors for the human condition.

From the Archive

September 2009, no. 314

The Winds of Heaven by Judith Clarke

Judith Clarke’s new novel for young adults, The Winds of Heaven, is a moving story about the strength and difficulty of friendship, and how accidents of birth, family and situation can combine to overwhelm the brightest spirit.

On her first trip to Lake Conapaira in 1952, ten-year-old Clementine meets her cousin Fan for the first time. Fan is a whirlwind: beautiful, impulsive and imaginative. Clementine is entranced by Fan’s strength and liveliness, and the two girls quickly become friends. But Fan’s childhood is a world away from Clementine’s cautious but loving family home. Stranded with her violent mother amid the prejudices of a country town, the beautiful Fan is labelled ‘stupid’ at school, and regularly beaten and emotionally abused by her depressive mother. Her sister has left home, and her father disappeared long ago. Fan fights for happiness, and fights hard. She has her miyan, or spiritual guardian, an elderly Aborigine who lives in the bush and tells her stories. He calls her Yirigaa, ‘Morning Star’, and is the only positive adult influence in her life. Clementine wants to stay with Fan, but the holiday draws to an end and she must return home, leaving Fan with her mother in the house that smelled of ‘anger and hatred and disappointment and jagged little fears’.