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Carmel Bird

Carmel Bird is the author of Writing the Story of Your Life (2007). Her recent novel is Child of the Twilight (2010), and her children’s picture book Fabulous Finola Fox has just been published.


Carmel Bird reviews 'We Too Shall be Mothers' by Sallie Muirden

June 2001, no. 231 01 June 2001
Sally Muirden’s second novel sits well with her first, Revelations of a Spanish Infanta. In each case, the author works through an elaborate historical lens to construct a multi-layered narrative in which the focus is the intimate life of a woman. In We Too Shall Be Mothers, the dominant narrative operates as a picaresque and dreamy fairy tale in which the life journey of Marie-France, a young ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Fury' by Maurilia Meehan

June 1993, no. 151 18 November 2022
Metempsychosis is the transmigration of a soul at death into the body of another being. The plot of this novel turns neatly on an incident of metempsychosis. I don’t wish to explain what happens, because one of the charms of the book lies in that moment, and readers must be free to enjoy it. Maurilia Meehan is a playful writer, one who invites her readers to enter into a game with her. The basi ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'The Habsburg Café' by Andrew Riemer

May 1993, no. 150 12 August 2022
Who made the best Sachertorte in the world? Andrew Riemer’s mum. The recipe is lost now, but it came from the Ursuline nuns in Sopron, a small Hungarian town where Andrew Riemer’s mother grew up. This information comes early in The Hapsburg Cafe, which is an account of the author’s second visit to the places of his childhood (the first account being recorded in Inside Outside). I waited and ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Collected Stories' by Liam Davison

July 2001, no. 232 01 July 2001
One of my all-time favourite short stories, ‘The Shipwreck Party’, opens this volume of Collected Stories. Any book of short pieces invites readers to enter wherever they like. I decided to start at the last piece and work backwards so that I could end up with my old favourite. The pace, structure, rhythm, images, restraint, wit, irony, and tone of this short narrative always work their magic ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Collected Stories' by Thea Astley

December 1997–January 1998, no. 197 01 December 1997
One of the principal characters in much of Thea Astley’s writing is Queensland. ‘An intransigent fecundity dominated two shacks which were cringing beneath banana clumps, passion-vines, granadillas.’ There’s a lot of sad poetry about the place; and the distances that separate us, I mean the physical distances, are like verse-breaks in a ballad; and once, once we believed the ballad migh ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'The Shark Net' by Robert Drewe

April 2000, no. 219 01 April 2000
‘I’d spent my childhood and adolescence on this sandy moonscape. I was sure I had something to say about it. I just didn’t know what.’ The book is Robert Drewe’s response to that thought. It is, as he says, a portrait of a place and time. The place is Perth; the time the fifties; the portrait is so very sharp, atmospheric, brutal, and deeply moving. There is a strange and haunting sweetn ... (read more)

'Self Portrait' by Carmel Bird

February–March 1987, no. 88 01 February 1987
When I read fiction I want the words to take my spirit into the places beneath the surface of the everyday world. I want the freshness of dreams to be again revealed to me. I want to know the loveliness and terror of what lies beyond the last star, of what lies sweetly cradled in the blood and juices of the human heart. I long to feel the shock when the tulip spikes the damp soil, feel the blissfu ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Cockles of the Heart' by Marion Halligan

April 1996, no. 179 01 April 1996
Until I reviewed Marion Halligans novel Lovers’ Knots, I didn’t really know much about what a lover’s knot was. And now I know more than I used to know about the word ‘cockle’. Quite simply, the cockles on cockle shells are the distinct ribs, and since the ventricles of the human heart resemble in some ways the shape and ribbing of the shells of scallops, we have the expression ‘cockl ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Bereft' by Chris Womersley

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
World War I is lodged in the minds of Australians with mythic power. Chris Womersley, in plain and startling yet tender and lyrical prose, has constructed a moving narrative that opens up the wounds of war, laying bare the events that pre-date the conflict and reach forward into the collective memory. I was reminded of A.S. Byatt’s recent novel The Children’s Book (2009), which also foreground ... (read more)

Carmel Bird reviews 'Grand Days' by Frank Moorhouse

November 1993, no. 156 01 November 1993
Grand Days is volume one of Frank Moorhouse’s Palais des Nations novels, and is connected to the author’s previous works Forty-Seventeen and The Electrical Experience by the characters of Edith Campbell Berry and George McDowell. The principal narrative of Grand Days goes on for 500 or so pages, and is followed by some thirty pages of notes and explanations which form another narrative. The mo ... (read more)
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