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David Matthews

David Matthews is an Adelaide critic and former editorial assistant on The Adelaide Review.

David Matthews reviews 'Homecoming' by Adib Khan

November 2003, no. 256 01 November 2003
Adib Khan’s fourth novel mirrors many of the concerns of his second, Solitude of Illusions (1997). Like Khalid in that novel, Martin Godwin in Homecoming looks back over a life that could have been better lived and a moral trajectory that has long since been deflected by one key event. Martin reflects on what could have been different and is tortured by what he sees as his own hypocrisy and cowa ... (read more)

David Matthews reviews 'Agapanthus Tango' by David Francis

May 2001, no. 230 01 May 2001
Neither the agapanthus nor the tango is native to Australia: their juxtaposition, when an Argentinian man and the Austrian woman he possibly loves dance amongst the plants on a remote property in the Riverina, suggests the kinds of familiar patterns we are dealing with here. Like their dance, the dancers are displaced; they find the Australian bush alien; they have endured disappointments in getti ... (read more)

David Matthews reviews 'The Death of Pan' by Tom Petsinis

October 2001, no. 235 01 October 2001
Between the two poles of first-person narration and the inaccurately named ‘third-person’ narration lies another, rarely glimpsed, possibility. This is second-person narration, and it is something of a freak: Michel Butor’s La Modification and Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City are among the rare examples. Second-person narration always looks odd, perhaps in part because it is so rar ... (read more)

David Matthews reviews 'A Creed for the Third Millennium' by Colleen McCullough

April 1986, no. 79 01 April 1986
The apocalypse might have seemed like pretty stimulating stuff when St John was writing about it, but these days. the post-Apocalyptic landscape is a well-trodden literary territory. This fact notwithstanding, Colleen McCullough’s latest screen-fodder epic, A Creed for the Third Millennium, goes back to the future one more time, to the year 2032, when mankind is under threat, not from nuclear wa ... (read more)

'A tribute to Brian Matthews' by David Matthews

July 2022, no. 444 25 June 2022
My father, Brian Matthews, who has died of cancer aged eighty-five, was a contributor to Australian Book Review for forty years. He enthusiastically supported the journal from the early days of its re-establishment in 1978 under the editorship of John McLaren. He wrote for it prolifically under later editors – never more so than under the current editorship. A founder of Australian studies in t ... (read more)

David Matthews reviews 'Tin Toys' by Anson Cameron and 'Stormy Weather' by Michael Meehan

April 2000, no. 219 01 April 2000
These two second novels are rapid follow-ups to acclaimed début novels, Anson Cameron’s Silences Long Gone and Michael Meehan’s The Salt of Broken Tears. Each is, in its own way, resolutely vernacular. Meehan writes about the past and the country; Cameron writes largely about the city, very much today. In Tin Toys, nevertheless, the characters are very aware of the Australian past. The centr ... (read more)

David Matthews reviews 'The Tazyrik Year' by Alan Gould

June 1998, no. 201 26 August 2021
A man waits outside a schoolyard and watches a young girl who, it seems, is his daughter, though she doesn’t know him. What appears to be an internal dialogue between the man and the child’s mother commences, set apart from the main text. It is a self-conscious narrative manoeuvre. The narrator, Jules Pyatt, after all has a thesis in English literature behind him (abandoned). He knows what nar ... (read more)

David Matthews reviews 'Running Backwards Over Sand' by Stephanie Dowrick

February–March 1987, no. 88 01 February 1987
With her first novel (published in 1985 and now available in paperback), publisher and writer Stephanie Dowrick has created a long and uneven though often absorbing work, tracing the life of Zoë Delighty from birth to mature womanhood. It is a testament to the heroine’s survival of the vicissitudes of her active life, and her struggle to counter the malign influences of her girlhood which dog h ... (read more)