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Francesca Sasnaitis

Francesca Sasnaitis has returned to Melbourne after seven years in Perth and completing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Western Australia.

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Beautiful Balts: From displaced persons to new Australians' by Jayne Persian

January–February 2018, no. 398 30 November 2017
I grew up in a New Australian household, and admit at the outset to a biased view. My Lithuanian-born parents were actual Baltic immigrants among the other nationalities referred to by the blanket designation ‘Balt’. Much of the anecdotal material of Jayne Persian’s Beautiful Balts was deeply familiar to me from childhood: stories of the shock of a new culture and country so at odds with the ... (read more)

On Chesil Beach

ABR Arts 31 October 2017
On Chesil Beach is not Ian McEwan’s first screenplay, nor his only adaptation for the screen. The Children Act (2017), directed by Richard Eyre and based on McEwan’s 2014 novel, is also due for release in 2018. In an interview he gave at the Toronto International Film Festival, where both films premièred, McEwan said that his challenge was to find cinematic equivalents for literary devices, w ... (read more)

Song to Song

ABR Arts 02 October 2017
Song to Song is writer and director Terrence Malick’s cinematic version of the modernist literary experiment: multiple internalised viewpoints, stream-of-consciousness narrative, chronological fragmentation, and a reality apprehended through symbolic or metaphoric conjunction. He is abetted in this project by Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, whose muted palette of gauzy, twilit pa ... (read more)

The King's Choice

ABR Arts 18 August 2017
In 1905 a Danish prince was elected to the throne of Norway. The King’s Choice begins with grainy archival footage of the arrival of the new royal family. The streets are lined with people. The cheering crowd scenes segue into a different kind of rally, and then Adolf Hitler’s familiar hectoring face fills the screen. Norway, like many smaller nations, was neutral at the start of World War II. ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'On the Blue Train' by Kristel Thornell

November 2016, no. 386 28 October 2016
On the Blue Train is Kristel Thornell’s reimagining of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926. Thornell might have let her imagination fly, given that both Dorothy L. Sayers and Arthur Conan Doyle involved themselves in the nationwide search for the missing woman, but instead she has stuck close to the established facts: Agatha was grieving over her beloved mother’s recent death ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Inside the Art Market: Australia’s galleries: A history 1956–1976' by Christopher Heathcote

November 2016, no. 386 28 October 2016
Like any good storyteller, Christopher Heathcote begins by setting the scene: ‘one of those scruffy unpaved streets on the outer fringe’ of Melbourne on a wintry day in 1956. Two characters step from an American-style automobile and, in true Hollywood fashion, sweep the penurious artist Arthur Boyd into a contract with the fledgling Australian Galleries. The man with the romantic Ronald Colman ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Commonwealth' by Ann Patchett

October 2016, no. 385 23 September 2016
Life, one of Commonwealth's minor characters remarks, is a series of losses. Teresa Cousins acknowledges that life is also other, better things, but that it is the losses that define us – 'as solid and dependable as the earth itself'. This is at the crux of Ann Patchett's seventh novel, but Commonwealth is not a maudlin, grief-stricken ramble through divorce and disaster. To the contrary, it is ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Whisperings in the Blood: A memoir' by Shelley Davidow

May 2016, no. 381 27 April 2016
Shelley Davidow's multi-generational memoir begins in 1913 with her Jewish great-grandfather Jacob escaping the pogroms of tsarist Lithuania for the rigours of life in the American Midwest. The English language eludes Jacob, who struggles to make a decent living in his adopted country. Poverty contributes to his wife's untimely death. Jacob's son and daughter are consigned to a Jewish orphanage. L ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Leaving Elvis and Other Stories' by Michelle Michau-Crawford

March 2016, no. 379 25 February 2016
Michau-Crawford's accomplished début collection bears comparison to Tim Winton's impressionistic The Turning (2005) and Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge (2008), though Leaving Elvis is properly neither the portrait of place nor of a single character. The place might be any dilapidated small town in the wheat-belt region of Western Australia. The chronological stories follow the fortunes, or mo ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Crow's Breath' by John Kinsella

August 2015, no. 373 29 July 2015
Recently I drove east from Perth through wheat belt country to the Helena and Aurora Ranges, past Cunderin, Kellerberrin, and Koolyanobbing, towns whose names echo the rhythms of the landscape; past the shimmering salt pan that was once Lake Deborah East; down rutted tracks which changed abruptly from red earth to yellow sand; past the ravages of iron ore mines to the sacred Aboriginal ochre quarr ... (read more)
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