University of Queensland Press

In their very different ways, these three collections attest that contemporary Australian poetry is alive, robust, and engaging.

Puncher and Wattmann have delivered a generous collection of Martin Langford's most recent poems, Ground ($25 pb, 158 pp, 9781922186751). As we have come to expect from Langford, the voice we find here is strong – passio ...

Contemporary Australian poetry has a complex and ever-evolving relationship with the land, both at home and abroad. Almost twenty-five years post-Mabo and entrenched in ongoing ecological crises, Australian poets explore new ways of experiencing and defining place. Where misguided nationalism sought to limit Australian poe ...

Following the success of her first novel, Claire Zorn displays her remarkable talent again in The Protected. Although the books are vastly different (The Sky So Heavy [2013] is a futuristic survival thriller, while The Protected is a coming-of-age story coloured by grief), thematically they have many similarities. Zorn is adept at exploring the challenges and complexities of growing up, and the fallibility of adults.

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When Gabrielle Carey wrote Puberty Blues (1979) with her school friend Kathy Lette, it was closely based on her own experience as a teenager. This initiated a writing career specialising in autobiography. Her novel The Borrowed Girl (1994) is based on her experience of living in a Mexican village, and So Many Selves (2006) is a personal memoir. Her new book extends the work of mourning and remembering her parents, which began with In My Father’s House (1994), an attempt to understand the suicide of her father, Alex Carey, and continued with Waiting Room (2009), an account of her mother Joan’s illness with a brain tumour.

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1953 by Geoff Page

by
March 2013, no. 349

Geoff Page’s 1953 is set in the town of Eurandangee, which, we learn, is about 650 kilometres north-west of Sydney ...

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A good novel can use personal drama to humanise history. A small story becomes powerful because of the ideas it represents, and the political, removed from the realm of theory and made concrete, has a tangible impact that can foster empathy and understanding. When done poorly, as it is here, the reverse occurs and the large concepts are reduced, lessened into triviality by the hollowness of the tale.

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The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer is a novel that manages to be absolutely itself, with a wholly idiosyncratic voice, while at the same time acting as a veritable echo chamber of earlier writers. The first page, with its lofty insistence about what ‘should not surprise the world’ in the behaviour of a young woman with the surname Ward, immediately calls to mind Mansfield Park, and the Austen echo is redoubled by the fact that her first name is Marianne. However, Preston’s narrator proceeds to address her readers with a confidence she might have learned from Anthony Trollope, while elsewhere providing information in bulleted lists, a trick Laurence Sterne would probably have found useful had he been writing a couple of centuries later.

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Venero Armanno’s latest novel begins implausibly. A young man is troubled by a recurring dream about a faceless, one-armed, blob-like creature being throttled by someone wearing a pale blue shirt. This troubled dreamer is Mark Alter (the unsubtle last name underlines one of the book’s central concerns), a university drop-out estranged from his parents and now leading a grungy existence in a seaside shack. The cavalcade of unlikely events starts on page four. After watching a so-called ‘cheap slasher film’ at his local cinema, Mark decides to turn his nightmare into a screenplay about ‘a shape-shifting demon from the Id’. The title? No-Face, of course. Mark sends his work to various producer types. One of these bigwigs replies by telephone (this is a novel where implausibilities are piled very high indeed) and accuses Mark of plagiarism. According to this famous producer, No-Face has ripped off the obscure novel Black Mountain, written five years before by the equally obscure Cesare Montenero.

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This volume contains all the poems that Rosemary Dobson wants to preserve. They represent a substantial portion of her output, which seems right for a poet who began with a degree of quiet confidence and poise that belied her youth. From the earliest, published when she was in her twenties ...

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In Ruby Moon’s family, the colour red is associated with shame, sin, death, and – much later – love, triumph, and happiness. Creative, introverted Ruby (nicknamed ‘Button’ after swallowing one as a child) is twin to daring Sally. Ruby describes them as one moth: ‘two wings grown from the same beginning.’ Two halves, not yet formed.

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