Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department at Southampton University. Her publications include an edited book of interviews with Iris Murdoch (2003), V.S. Naipaul, Man and Writer (2006), J.M. Coetzee and the Power of Narrative (2010), and journal articles on a range of literary topics including music in the life and work of Jane Austen. In 2005 she co-edited Matthew Flinders’ Private Journal and in 2014 she published an edition of the correspondence between Iris Murdoch and the Australian radical philosopher Brian Medlin. She has been a regular reviewer for ABR since 2002. She is founding editor of the online journals Transnational Literature and Writers in Conversation.

Gillian Dooley reviews 'How to Write a Thesis' by Umberto Eco, translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina

September 2015, no. 374 27 August 2015
Gillian Dooley reviews 'How to Write a Thesis' by Umberto Eco, translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina
In 1977, before personal computers and the Internet, Umberto Eco published How to Write a Thesis. It has remained in print ever since, but only now is it available in English. The book hasn’t been updated and makes no concessions to technological change. Space is devoted to card indexes and manual typewriters, offering alternatives if the student owns an IBM Selectric. Eco advises choosing a the ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'A Guide to Berlin' by Gail Jones

September 2015, no. 374 25 August 2015
Gillian Dooley reviews 'A Guide to Berlin' by Gail Jones
I sit in a safe room with the winter sun on my back and read of violence and menace in an icy city. Gail Jones’s Berlin is so bleak and the novel’s dénouement so shattering that I need that brief benign warmth. This is not, I hasten to protest, a spoiler: the book begins by foreshadowing a scene of guilt, shock, and death, to which the novel’s action then gradually unfolds. Jones’s oeuv ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Poets' Stairwell' by Alan Gould

June-July 2015, no. 372 28 May 2015
Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Poets' Stairwell' by Alan Gould
In 1977 the aspiring poet Alan Gould travelled through Europe with his friend Kevin Hart. Just such a tour forms the narrative thread for Gould’s latest novel, The Poets’ Stairwell. This is a roman à clef and those in the know will enjoy the identification game. More interesting, though, is the intellectual journey; Gould’s virginal twenty-seven-year-old hero, Claude Boon, slowly defining ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'To Love a Sunburnt Country' by Jackie French

January-February 2015, no. 368 01 January 2015
Gillian Dooley reviews 'To Love a Sunburnt Country' by Jackie French
Jackie French, according to the press release for her new adult novel To Love a Sunburnt Country, has written over 140 books in a twenty-five-year career. Many are for children and teenagers. I have only read one other, A Waltz for Matilda (2012), the first in ‘the Matilda Saga’ for teens; but these two books share at least one character and several characteristics. One of these is size − t ... (read more)

Personal Effects

May 2014, no. 361 30 April 2014
Personal Effects
A woman, married but alone, stands at a window in a high-rise apartment in Calgary watching the snow fall. Later she might unpack a carton, go out to eat, go to bed. That is about all that happens in the present time in Grahame’s Personal Effects. The rest is memory. This woman, Lilith, from a coastal town in Western Australia, ruminates on a life story filled perhaps with more loss than than mo ... (read more)

Ring the bell

February 2014, no. 358 19 January 2014
Ring the bell
I have often thought that a large part of achievement is just fronting up; having an idea and acting on it, however unlikely success might seem. What you need is a resolution (or the disposition) not to be discouraged by failure and to be pleasantly surprised by success. If it doesn’t work, you try something else. You make the most of any opportunity. You should also jettison a conventional sens ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley on 'The Night Guest' by Fiona McFarlane

December 2013–January 2014, no. 357 01 December 2013
Gillian Dooley on 'The Night Guest' by Fiona McFarlane
The depredations of time on the ageing human is an unusual topic for a young writer to confront, especially in a first novel, but why not, if the negative capability is not wanting? After all, it’s common enough for an older writer to inhabit young characters. The difference is, of course, that a young writer hasn’t yet been old. In Fiona McFarlane’s first novel, The Night Guest, the main ce ... (read more)

The Misogyny Factor

July–August 2013, no. 353 26 June 2013
The Misogyny Factor
Julia Gillard’s magnificent tirade against Tony Abbott in parliament last year has given Anne Summers her title for The Misogyny Factor, a polemic on the landscape of sexism and disadvantage in Australia based on two of her own recent speeches. Hillary Clinton’s distinction between progress (the signs of how far we have come) and success (enduring changes in attitudes and structures) provides ... (read more)

Ways of seeing

June 2013, no. 352 26 May 2013
Ways of seeing
‘God gave me polio?’ Taken aback by her grandmother’s bland insistence on unquestioning submission to divine will, the six-year-old child in Annah Faulkner’s novel The Beloved has already started questioning the articles of faith and the assumptions of the adults in her world, in that penetrating way some children have. Clearly she is not going to take to religion. Other early certitudes f ... (read more)
Page 3 of 5