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.

... (read more)

Matthew Condon is fast becoming the George R.R. Martin of Australian true crime. Like the Game of Thrones author, Condon is part-way through the delivery of a saga of epic proportions. However, whereas some fantasy fiction fans doubt that Martin will ever conclude his A Song of Ice and Fire series, everyone knows how the story of corruption in Joh Bjelke-Petersen-era Queensland ends. But knowing the ending doesn’t lessen the shock of the telling. Jacks and Jokers, the second instalment of Condon’s trilogy (the conclusion, All Fall Down, is slated for release in 2015), sprawls and appals in equal measure.

... (read more)

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.

... (read more)

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 ...

... (read more)

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.

... (read more)

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.

... (read more)

The epigraph from Plato’s Phaedrus cleverly introduces the Socratic dialogue on which David Brooks’s new novel turns. This makes for a brilliant foray into the contradictions at the heart of the truths that both characters are seeking in The Conversation. This question-and-answer exchange is presented as a kind of Scheherazadian dégustation of narratives, where the novel endures for as long as the stories continue. For this reason, the emphasis is on pauses, languor, and an understanding of the way in which something can consume (‘eat away at’) a person.

... (read more)

The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey & Word Hunters: The Curious Dictionary by Nick Earls and Terry Whidborne

by
November 2012, no. 346

Craig Silvey’s The Amber Amulet is a deceptively simple tale that hides many classic themes within its layers. By night, twelve-year-old Liam McKenzie patrols Franklin Street in the guise of super-hero the Masked Avenger, aided (and sometimes hindered) by his sidekick, Richie the Powerbeagle. The prime belief underpinning the Masked Avenger’s doctrine is the enormous potential of dormant energy that is trapped in gemstones and minerals, which hold specific powers. He believes that energy is omnipresent, but as the world is both positively and negatively charged, he is very aware that the balance between good and evil can easily be disturbed, and he is thus constantly on the lookout for ‘Trouble’.

... (read more)