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Michelle Griffin

Michelle Griffin is a Melbourne reviewer.

Michelle Griffin reviews ‘Winter Journey’ by Diane Armstrong

March 2005, no. 269 01 March 2005
Diane Armstrong should have stuck to the facts. The many surprising particulars that illuminated her two fine histories of the Jewish refugee experience (Mosaic: A Chronicle of Five Generations, 1998, and The Voyage of Their Life, 1999) have been replaced, in her first novel, by clichés and banalities that turn to soap opera her account of an Australian forensic scientist unearthing the secrets o ... (read more)

Michelle Griffin reviews ‘Carry Me Down’ by M.J. Hyland

March 2006, no. 279 01 March 2006
Just how old is John Egan? In a letter to the Guinness Book of Records, he says he is eleven. But the narrative voice of this queer, tormented Irish lad is not that of other boy heroes on the cusp of puberty, the opinionated braggarts whose boasts and fears and primary-coloured perspectives propel their stories. Instead, John’s story lurches from the distractions of the very young to a kind of p ... (read more)

Michelle Griffin reviews ‘The Infernal Optimist’ by Linda Jaivin

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
There is every reason to admire this novel’s intent, but with the best will in the world I couldn’t recommend the result. Linda Jaivin’s current affairs comedy about the Villawood Detention Centre is so conscious of its pedagogic goals that it fails to offer a decent story. And it’s not funny. Believe me, I wanted to like it. Jaivin is a terrific writer with an enviable range, capable of t ... (read more)

Michelle Griffin reviews ‘The Bone House: Essays’ by Beverley Farmer

February 2006, no. 278 01 February 2006
Slow in the writing and slow in the reading: it is so easy to drift on the tides of Beverley Farmer’s book, and also to lose your bearings. The three long essays that make up The Bone House are prose poems organised by biorhythms, it seems, rather than by any architectural design. They carry all sorts of startling images in on their tides, like the fragments the writer finds washed up on the sho ... (read more)

Michelle Griffin reviews 'Invisible Yet' by Gerald Murnane and 'Literati' by James Phelan

October 2005, no. 275 01 October 2005
I could always rely on Gerald Murnane for a beautiful quote. Nine years ago, when I was researching a piece on writers and technology, he told me he wrote all his books on a manual typewriter with the index finger of his right hand: ‘My favourite word to type, as a one-finger typist, is “afterwards”,’ Murnane told me over the phone. ‘It’s a beautiful whirly movement with one finger.’ ... (read more)

Michelle Griffin reviews 'The Dickinson Papers' by Mark Ragg

February 2007, no. 288 01 February 2007
On Valentine’s Day, the State Library of Victoria will host its third literary speed-dating dinner, an event that makes explicit something that has long been implicit in contemporary courtship chatter: you can judge a lover by their book. Participants in these events have about three minutes to impress each potential partner with the one book they brought along for show-and-tell. At the first su ... (read more)

Michelle Griffin reviews 'Waving to Hart Crane' by Robert Adamson

November 1994, no. 166 01 November 1994
Is Robert Adamson Waving to Hart Crane, or drowning? He is certainly calling for help. In 1930, Hart Crane turned his back on Eliot’s The Waste Land and built The Bridge, a poem ‘to launch into praise’, to span across despair towards some brighter shore. But Adamson does not like what he finds on the other side, ‘No sonnet will survive / the fax on fire’, he warns. The Clean Dark, the 1 ... (read more)

Michelle Griffin reviews 'Sorry' by Gail Jones

May 2007, no. 291 01 May 2007
A smattering of cultural theory is helpful when reading Gail Jones. The academic bones of her writing always show through the thin padding of her concept-driven stories: deconstructed photography in Sixty Lights (2005), technology and intimacy entwined in Dreams of Speaking (2006). It is more than disconcerting when the narrator of Jones’s third novel, Sorry, starts to interrogate the text with ... (read more)

Michelle Griffin reviews 'Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living' by Carrie Tiffany and 'Road Story' by Julienne van Loon

September 2005, no. 274 01 September 2005
The Vogel Prize shares a reputation with the rest of the company’s products: nutritious, worthy, a little dull. But the prize’s earnest image is unfair. Any glance at the roll-call of winners over the last twenty-five years would show that the makers of soggy bread and soya cereals have done more than anyone to introduce fresh literary DNA into Australia’s tiny gene pool of published novelis ... (read more)