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Debra Adelaide

Debra Adelaide

Debra Adelaide has published eighteen books, including novels, short fiction, and essays, the most recent of which is The Innocent Reader (2019). Until 2020 she was an associate professor in the creative writing program at the University of Technology Sydney.

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Madukka the River Serpent' by Julie Janson

September 2023, no. 457 27 June 2023
Given the huge popularity of crime fiction, some readers might wonder why there are not more examples by Aboriginal authors. Perhaps it is because crime in general is too close to the bone. It was only coincidental to be reviewing Julie Janson’s Madukka the River Serpent amid the controversy that followed the ABC’s coverage of the recent coronation, yet the relevance was inescapable. For the t ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Marshmallow' by Victoria Hannan, 'Higher Education' by Kira McPherson, and 'Little Plum' by Laura McPhee-Browne

March 2023, no. 451 23 February 2023
A marshmallow is a common confectionery, white and pink, made of gelatin, sugar, and water. We put them in hot chocolate, toast them over campfires. Marshmallow is also a plant, Althea officinalis, containing a jelly-like substance which has been used for medicinal purposes as far back as the time of Ancient Egypt. A marshmallow can also describe someone who is soft to a fault, even vulnerable. Th ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Miniatures' by Susan Midalia, 'Bloodrust' by Julia Prendergast and 'Women I Know' by Katerina Gibson

December 2022, no. 449 25 November 2022
Miniatures by Susan MidaliaNight Parrot Press, $24.99 pb, 175 pp What is a short short story? More specifically, how short is it (or how long)? The most famous tiny example is attributed to Ernest Hemingway: ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’ Whether he wrote this or not, it represents the gold standard in suggesting much in little. Like poetry, microstories or flash fictions allow no f ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Cut' by Susan White and 'The Registrar' by Neela Janakiramanan

September 2022, no. 446 25 August 2022
It can only be coincidence that two very similar novels have been produced by contemporary doctors, but the overlapping characters and themes of Cut and The Registrar are so striking that it’s hard not to visualise their authors, Susan White and Neela Janakiramanan, getting together somewhere to sketch out their early drafts. Both novels feature young female protagonists working in teaching hosp ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Dinner with the Schnabels' by Toni Jordan, 'The Competition' by Katherine Collette, and 'Love and Other Puzzles' by Kimberley Allsopp

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
Doubtless there will come a time when one’s more disciplined reading self requires nourishment from serious books that offer sustained intellectual, creative, and moral challenges. In the meantime, books – in particular the contemporary urban novel – may continue to satisfy by being charming, delightful, witty, heart-warming, hilarious, astringently refreshing, sharply observed, and deliciou ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Home and Other Hiding Places' by Jack Ellis, 'Loveland' by Robert Lukins, and 'Hovering' by Rhett Davis

March 2022, no. 440 21 February 2022
Home and Other Hiding Places by Jack Ellis Ultimo Press, $32.99 pb, 311 pp I have said this already in a recent review, but it is a special kind of novelist who can write about young characters yet still engage the adult reader. It’s also a special book that can handle the burden of what cover quotes are fond of labelling ‘warm-hearted’ or ‘big-hearted’ fiction. To me, such descriptions ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'We Were Not Men' by Campbell Mattinson, 'The Cookbook of Common Prayer' by Francesca Haig, and 'Small Joys of Real Life' by Allee Richards

November 2021, no. 437 25 October 2021
One of the hardest challenges for a novelist is to write a story for adults from the point of view of a child. In 1847, Charlotte Brontë set the bar high with Jane Eyre, the first novel to achieve this. The story ends when Jane is a woman but commences with the child Jane’s perspective. So effective for readers was Brontë’s ground-breaking feat that Charles Dickens decided to write Great Exp ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'We Were Not Men' by Campbell Mattinson, 'The Cookbook of Common Prayer' by Francesca Haig, and 'Small Joys of Real Life' by Allee Richards

November 2021, no. 437 28 September 2021
One of the hardest challenges for a novelist is to write a story for adults from the point of view of a child. In 1847, Charlotte Brontë set the bar high with Jane Eyre, the first novel to achieve this. The story ends when Jane is a woman but commences with the child Jane’s perspective. So effective for readers was Brontë’s ground-breaking feat that Charles Dickens decided to write Great Exp ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'After Story' by Larissa Behrendt

July 2021, no. 433 22 June 2021
In the latter half of this novel, one of its protagonists is viewing a collection of butterflies at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. This forms part of Jasmine’s holiday with her mother, Della, a tour of famous literary and other notable cultural sites in the United Kingdom. By this stage they have visited Stratford-upon-Avon, Brontë country in Haworth, and Jane Austen’s Bath ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'From Where I Fell' by Susan Johnson, 'New Animal' by Ella Baxter, and 'Unsheltered' by Clare Moleta

May 2021, no. 431 26 April 2021
From Where I Fell by Susan Johnson Allen & Unwin, $32.99 pb, 338 pp A new Susan Johnson novel is always a treat, partly because you get the sense that with each one she has set herself a specific creative challenge, and partly because she is such a fine writer. In From Where I Fell, the epistolary novel, popular in the nineteenth century, has been updated, with the entire work in the form of ... (read more)
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