Jeffrey Poacher

Jeffrey Poacher

Jeffrey Poacher has written about Australian fiction and literary criticism for ABR since 2008. His essays, reviews, and other writing have appeared in HEAT, The Times Literary Supplement, Jacket, and various academic journals. He lives in Brisbane.

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'Southerly, Vol. 69, No. 2: Southerly At Seventy' edited by David Brooks and Elizabeth McMahon

March 2010, no. 319 01 March 2010
Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'Southerly, Vol. 69, No. 2: Southerly At Seventy' edited by David Brooks and Elizabeth McMahon
It is time to raise our glasses: Australia’s oldest literary magazine is now a sprightly septuagenarian. The latest number of Southerly marks the occasion by encasing itself in what appears to be a reproduction of one of its covers from the middle of the last century, complete with foxing and a pencil notation of its pre-decimal price. This retro jacket should serve as a reminder of the journal ... (read more)

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'Meanjin, Vol. 69, No. 1' edited by Sophie Cunningham

April 2010, no 320 01 April 2010
Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'Meanjin, Vol. 69, No. 1' edited by Sophie Cunningham
There is something to offend everyone in the latest issue of Meanjin. Several contributors boldly tackle religious questions – always plenty of kindling for the fire there. Jeff Sparrow takes on the so-called ‘New Atheists’, in the process throwing a few Marxist haymakers at Bush, Rudd and ‘the Israeli apartheid state’. The ‘religious undergirding’ of secular thought is considered by ... (read more)

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'The Bath Fugues' by Brian Castro

July-August 2009, no. 313 01 July 2009
Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'The Bath Fugues' by Brian Castro
Living as a displaced person in Berlin during the early 1930s was no picnic, especially if you happened to have a Jewish wife. This was the situation Vladimir Nabokov found himself in, so it is hardly surprising that at one point he considered emigrating to Australia. Had he done so, how different would our literature look today? Perhaps we would have more novels like Brian Castro’s latest, for ... (read more)

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'Black Mountain' by Venero Armanno

October 2012, no. 345 26 September 2012
Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'Black Mountain' by Venero Armanno
Venero Armanno’s latest novel begins implausibly. A young man is troubled by a recurring dream about a faceless, one-armed, blob-like creature being throttled by someone wearing a pale blue shirt. This troubled dreamer is Mark Alter (the unsubtle last name underlines one of the book’s central concerns), a university drop-out estranged from his parents and now leading a grungy existence in a se ... (read more)

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'Welcome to Normal' by Nick Earls

July–August 2012, no. 343 09 July 2012
Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'Welcome to Normal' by Nick Earls
Wheen asked why his later writing had taken on such a different character, Eugenio Montale explained that this was because it came from la retrobottega – literally, from the back of the shop – that place where an artist might unhurriedly conduct a private experiment or two. Something similar might be said of Welcome to Normal, the first collection of stories by Nick Earls in more than a decade ... (read more)

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'The Magic of It' by Michael Wilding

November 2011, no. 336 25 October 2011
Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'The Magic of It' by Michael Wilding
Declarations of loathing for the other members of one’s species tend to be tedious in reality but hilarious in fiction. The characters in Michael Wilding’s latest novel repeatedly prove this point with their mock-serious diatribes against, among others, the habitués of Sydney coffee shops (‘black-clad, metal-pierced creatures’), the patrons of English pubs (‘maggots … a rabble’), an ... (read more)

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'The Fix' by Nick Earls

September 2011, no. 334 23 August 2011
Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'The Fix' by Nick Earls
In contemporary crime fiction, first-person narrators can often sound irritatingly implausible, either too much the Marlovian stoic or too much the Holmesian savant. This is not the case with The Fix, Nick Earls’s latest offering, in which the narratorial voice is convincing from the first page. Then again, The Fix is hardly a conventional work of crime fiction; it has some ingredients of the ge ... (read more)

Jeffrey Poacher reviews 'The End of Longing' by Ian Reid

May 2011, no. 331 21 April 2011
What do we really know about other people, even those closest to us? In one of Chekhov’s most famous stories, the supreme adulterer Gurov takes the view that authentic life is always lived in secret (though, of course, he would say that). Marriage offers no ready access to another person’s history, as a young wife discovers in Ian Reid’s début novel, The End of Longing. Her problem of knowl ... (read more)