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Garry Disher

Garry Disher: The Sunken Road is a so-called literary novel. I find that I’m a bit typecast, Garry Disher the crime writer or Garry Disher the children’s writer. A lot of the fiction I’ve written is so-called more literary in nature. This is my big book, up to date, if you like. It’s a novel set in the wheat and wool country in the mid-north of South Australia where I grew up. It’s a story of the region and of a family and of a main character called Anna Tolley. I tell this story in a series of biographical fragments around a theme like Christmas, or love, or hate, or birthdays. And each fragment takes a character from childhood to old age. And I repeat this pattern right through the book and certain secrets are revealed or come to the surface through this repetition. So at that level I suppose it’s a linear story, but the structure’s not all that linear. In terms of structure it’s an advance for me, or an experiment.

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Jigsaw Bay by John Merson & Restless by Garry Disher

May 1995, no. 170

More than ever books on today’s market have strong competition – particularly so if the title is intended for the 10+ reading audience. Publishers of children’s literature are responding to the need to entice a reading audience from the many technological forms of vivid and spectacular entertainment. Jigsaw Bay deserves a mention in this capacity.

The puzzle of Jigsaw Bay begins on an autumn morning as Danny McCall sets off, not to school, but to a secret place on the bay where he is playing truant with Yoko and Sam who will soon be part of the mystery. The plot is a good action one, strongly based in environmental ecology, corruption, and power. Danny, Yoko, and Sam with the help of greenie school teacher Bob and some slick court room tactics eventually win out and the murky details of corruption in Billington are revealed. The ideas in the plot kept me reading to the end of the book which is intended to attract readers by its directness and lack of complexity. I question, however, whether in an effort to succeed, the author has underestimated his audience and with the very best of intentions has ended up short changing readers.

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Plumb by Maurice Gee & Approaches by Garry Disher

May 1982, no. 40

In a way, two words suffice for Plumb. Read it. It would be fair to add, ‘Make yourself read it.’ The inexorable, old man’s voice of its narrator George Plumb may irritate you, but before long you will respect his unrelenting and unsparing honesty with himself and his memories, and you will realise that everything he says has its place in this splendidly fashioned novel. At the end, he writes: ‘I thought, I’m ready to die, or live, or understand, or love, or whatever it is. I’m glad of the good I’ve done, and sorry about the bad.’

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