Carmel Bird

Carmel Bird is the author of Writing the Story of Your Life (2007). Her recent novel is Child of the Twilight (2010), and her children’s picture book Fabulous Finola Fox has just been published.

 

Carmel Bird reviews 'Collected Stories' by Liam Davison

July 2001, no. 232 01 July 2001
Carmel Bird reviews 'Collected Stories' by Liam Davison
One of my all-time favourite short stories, ‘The Shipwreck Party’, opens this volume of Collected Stories. Any book of short pieces invites readers to enter wherever they like. I decided to start at the last piece and work backwards so that I could end up with my old favourite. The pace, structure, rhythm, images, restraint, wit, irony, and tone of this short narrative always work their magic ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Collected Stories' by Thea Astley

December 1997–January 1998, no. 197 01 December 1997
Carmel Bird reviews 'Collected Stories' by Thea Astley
One of the principal characters in much of Thea Astley’s writing is Queensland. ‘An intransigent fecundity dominated two shacks which were cringing beneath banana clumps, passion-vines, granadillas.’ There’s a lot of sad poetry about the place; and the distances that separate us, I mean the physical distances, are like verse-breaks in a ballad; and once, once we believed the ballad migh ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'The Shark Net' by Robert Drewe

April 2000, no. 219 01 April 2000
Carmel Bird reviews 'The Shark Net' by Robert Drewe
‘I’d spent my childhood and adolescence on this sandy moonscape. I was sure I had something to say about it. I just didn’t know what.’ The book is Robert Drewe’s response to that thought. It is, as he says, a portrait of a place and time. The place is Perth; the time the fifties; the portrait is so very sharp, atmospheric, brutal, and deeply moving. There is a strange and haunting sweetn ... (read more)

'Self Portrait' by Carmel Bird

February–March 1987, no. 88 01 February 1987
'Self Portrait' by Carmel Bird
When I read fiction I want the words to take my spirit into the places beneath the surface of the everyday world. I want the freshness of dreams to be again revealed to me. I want to know the loveliness and terror of what lies beyond the last star, of what lies sweetly cradled in the blood and juices of the human heart. I long to feel the shock when the tulip spikes the damp soil, feel the blissfu ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Cockles of the Heart' by Marion Halligan

April 1996, no. 179 01 April 1996
Carmel Bird reviews 'Cockles of the Heart' by Marion Halligan
Until I reviewed Marion Halligans novel Lovers’ Knots, I didn’t really know much about what a lover’s knot was. And now I know more than I used to know about the word ‘cockle’. Quite simply, the cockles on cockle shells are the distinct ribs, and since the ventricles of the human heart resemble in some ways the shape and ribbing of the shells of scallops, we have the expression ‘cockl ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Bereft' by Chris Womersley

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
Carmel Bird reviews 'Bereft' by Chris Womersley
World War I is lodged in the minds of Australians with mythic power. Chris Womersley, in plain and startling yet tender and lyrical prose, has constructed a moving narrative that opens up the wounds of war, laying bare the events that pre-date the conflict and reach forward into the collective memory. I was reminded of A.S. Byatt’s recent novel The Children’s Book (2009), which also foreground ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Grand Days' by Frank Moorhouse

November 1993, no. 156 01 November 1993
Carmel Bird reviews 'Grand Days' by Frank Moorhouse
Grand Days is volume one of Frank Moorhouse’s Palais des Nations novels, and is connected to the author’s previous works Forty-Seventeen and The Electrical Experience by the characters of Edith Campbell Berry and George McDowell. The principal narrative of Grand Days goes on for 500 or so pages, and is followed by some thirty pages of notes and explanations which form another narrative. The mo ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'The Lost Woman' by Sydney Smith

July–August 2012, no. 343 09 July 2012
Carmel Bird reviews 'The Lost Woman' by Sydney Smith
In 1978 Christina Crawford published her memoir Mommie Dearest, an account of her life as the abused adoptive child of Joan Crawford. Shocking scenes in this book remain forever with readers. Sydney Smith’s account of life with her mother is, if anything, more horrific than Mommie Dearest. Traditional fairy tales often split the mother into the good mother and the bad mother, and the one in The ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Thought Crimes' by Tim Richards

September 2011, no. 334 23 August 2011
Carmel Bird reviews 'Thought Crimes' by Tim Richards
A book’s epigraph doesn’t often feel like a direct personal statement to the reader, but the one in Thought Crimes, drawn from Ionesco, is just that: ‘You got stuck in the mud of life. You felt warm and cosy. (Sharply) Now you’re going to freeze.’ Imagine the world as a jigsaw from which the author has removed some pieces, substituting them with his own pieces – but which ones are ... (read more)
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