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Patrick Allington

Patrick Allington

Patrick Allington was the recipient of the inaugural ABR Patrons’ Fellowship, worth $5000. His novel, Figurehead (Black Inc. 2009), was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. His short fiction and book criticism appears in Australian newspapers, magazines, and journals, including regularly in ABR.

Patrick Allington reviews ‘A Short History of Cambodia: From empire to survival’ by John Tully

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
Cambodia is best known for the Angkor temple complex, and for Pol Pot. This primer incorporates the famous monuments and the Killing Fields into 2000 years of history, from pre-Angkorean Funan to the present. As John Tully suggests, it suits ‘tourists, students and general readers’. Writing a ‘short history’ presents specific challenges: the author must balance a narrative that tells a com ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'The Best Australian Political Writing 2008' edited by Tony Jones

May 2008, no. 301 01 May 2008
In The Best Australian Political Writing 2008, the ABC’s Tony Jones, a latish replacement as editor for the Canberra-bound Maxine McKew, has assembled forty-two pieces of non-fiction first published in 2007. The result is a mixed bag of genres, including columns, investigative journalism, polemic, book extracts and essays (but, alas, no fiction). The subject matter includes the November federal ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'London Was Full of Rooms' edited by Tully Barnett et al.

November 2006, no. 286 01 November 2006
This digressive collection of essays, extracts, cartoons and poems is unified by an interest in colonial and post-colonial responses to London. It stems from a 2003 conference, ‘Writing London’, organised by Flinders University’s Centre for Research in the New Literatures in English (CRNLE). Part 1 focuses on the Malaysian writer Lee Kok Liang (1927–92), in particular his posthumously publ ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'In Defence of Food: The myth of nutrition and the pleasures of eating' by Michael Pollan

September 2008, no. 304 01 September 2008
In Defence of Food is several books rolled into one. It is a primer on nutrition science, a contextual exposé on what we put in our mouths, an advertisement for the joys of eating and even something of a self-help diet and behavioural book. It is also part of Michael Pollan’s ongoing conversation with the reading (and eating) public, and is more satisfying when placed within his oeuvre, particu ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews ‘Mother Land’ by Dmetri Kakmi

November 2008, no. 306 01 November 2008
Mother Land is a vibrant and charming yet sombre and brutal account of Dmetri Kakmi’s childhood on the Aegean island of Tenedos, now known by its Turkish name of Bozcaada. The book opens with the adult ‘Dimitri’, accompanied by his Turkish friend Sinan, standing on the mainland and surveying through binoculars places he has not seen for thirty years: ‘Three islets sit low on the water ... ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews ‘Westerly Vol. 54, No. 1’ edited by Delys Bird and Dennis Haskell

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
One of the best things about the latest issue of Westerly is the cover, a detail from Helen Norton’s painting The shores of the excommunicated. Norton’s image is a wonderfully disquieting take on the modern Aussie beach. It inspires fresh ideas and imaginings, it unsettles, it punctures complacency, it provokes counter-reactions, but it also entertains – typifying what literary magazines sho ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews ‘The Lost Life’ by Steven Carroll

April 2009, no. 310 01 April 2009
Midway through Steven Carroll’s beautiful and sombre novel The Lost Life, Emily Hale gives Catherine a pair of French stockings which she has decided she cannot herself wear. To Catherine, who is eighteen, ‘The thought of Miss Hale even buying them, let alone contemplating wearing them, is intriguing, for it opens up the possibility that there may be another side, many other sides, to Miss Hal ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews ‘The People’s Train’ by Tom Keneally

September 2009, no. 314 01 September 2009
The People’s Train, a book that links Queensland to the Russian Revolution, comes with baggage. Not least, there is the mixed critical reaction Tom Keneally has endured over the decades. Perhaps most notably, he is forever to be hailed and damned as the author of Schindler’s Ark (1982). Keneally’s popularity seems double-edged: Simon Sebag Montefiore, a writer of books about Russia, breathle ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'Houdini’s Flight' by Angelo Loukakis

June 2010, issue no. 322 01 June 2010
During Harry Houdini’s 1910 visit, the famous escapologist claimed to be the first person to achieve powered, controlled flight in Australia. In Houdini’s Flight, Angelo Loukakis uses these bare details as the backdrop for a modern tale about a more modest achiever, Terry Voulos. A second-generation Greek-Australian, Terry confronts, almost in slow motion, a personal crisis that initially seem ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'A Better Place' by Stephen Daisley

September 2023, no. 457 25 August 2023
Early in Stephen Daisley’s novel about World War II and postwar years, A Better Place, a New Zealand soldier called Roy Mitchell tells a lieutenant they must do something terrible: ‘C’mon boss, we got no choice here.’ This sentiment of compulsion – and this acceptance of the unacceptable – is symptomatic of many of the circumstances Roy endures and of the way he fights, survives, and k ... (read more)
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