Archive

Estelle Tang reviews 'Speak to Me' by Sarah Hopkins

Estelle Tang
Saturday, 08 August 2020

The title of Sarah Hopkins’s second novel, Speak to Me, is an exhortation: bridge the gap between us. It is also an expression of hope, however misguided, that such a gap can be bridged: if only we could speak, we could heal.

... (read more)

Thuy On reviews 'Sustenance' by Simone Lazaroo

Thuy On
Saturday, 08 August 2020

Food is often used as a metaphor for a range of emotions, and this device is underscored in Simone Lazaroo’s fourth book. The title alludes to the idea of nourishment as a substitute for love, sex and religion. Indeed, the protagonist, Malaysian Perpetua de Mello, is a chef at a four-and-a-half-star Balinese tourist resort, the Elsewhere Hotel. Although the slogan in its promotional flyer encourages visitors to ‘Find yourself at Elsewhere Hotel’, most of the guests have come to lose themselves, to seek consolation from whatever ails them back home. Though undated, the novel is set soon after the bombing attacks in Bali; the tremors of the terrorist strikes still reverberate. It depicts a nervous island desperate to attract more tourists, if only to stimulate its damaged economy. There has even been a directive in the local media to smile more at foreigners.

... (read more)

Ern Malley aside, Harold Stewart and James McAuley are poetic confrères in a region of Australian letters that has been largely overlooked. McAuley (1917–76), who translated only intermittently from the German, gave us poems by Stefan Georg, Karl Haushofer, and Georg Trakl, but the poem I will concentrate on is his 1946 version of Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Herbsttag’, which is so remarkable that later I intend to examine it closely. Stewart 1916–95), in contrast to McAuley, spent a good deal of his writing life, both in Australia and Japan, in translating Japanese classical verse, particularly the masters of haiku: Bashô, Buson, Shiki, Issa, Ryokan, Baizan, and others. This work, which occupied him for many years in Australia and Japan, was gathered in two books that will be the focus of my remarks.

... (read more)

'The Haunted Pane' a poem by Stephen Edgar

Stephen Edgar
Friday, 07 August 2020

As when the governess
Clutched to her bosom the damp head of Miles,
Who squirmed, unseeing, frantic for a hint,
Not able yet to guess
What she appeared to see in the haunted pane
Besides the backlit sky: the shape of Quint
Trying to find his way past her denial’s
Hard stare, not quite in vain.

... (read more)

'The Thing You're In' a poem by Nick Riemer

Nick Riemer
Friday, 07 August 2020

Everything happens fast and then goes –
the new movie you were waiting for
that you’ve suddenly just seen, the tunnel
under the harbour that seemed to take forever
now built and grooved by a million trips.
In winter fruit trees bud, shops
are full of summer clothes; only this
mind is slow, still stalling on the same
questions, never getting it, left behind
by life as by some wild-eyed nag
storming down the street, her hoofprints
pasted in the grass.

... (read more)

'When Did You Last See Castagno?' a poem by Peter Porter

Peter Porter
Friday, 07 August 2020

Welcome to the feast, piccolo pasero,
A feast that never ends, of loyalty and treachery.
Two are sold for a farthing, little sparrow

... (read more)

'Canasta for Lovers' a poem by Maria Takolander

Maria Takolander
Friday, 07 August 2020

Hold the hearts close to your heart:
they’ll feed each other blooms of colour

and the nudity of shapes
until you are bursting

... (read more)

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Madame Lash' by Sam Everingham

Jay Daniel Thompson
Friday, 07 August 2020

Madam Lash is a biography of Australia’s most famous dominatrix. Author Sam Everingham provides an engaging insight into the life of the woman who helped bring sadomasochism to mainstream attention in this country.

... (read more)

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'By the Balls' by Les Murray

Jay Daniel Thompson
Friday, 07 August 2020

IBy the Balls opens in the 1950s, when young Laszlo Urge and his family were forced to leave Stalinist Hungary and head to Australia. Laszlo was shocked to find his new country to be a ‘dry and colourless’ place where soccer (which he refers to as ‘football’) was unpopular. However, this situation was to change. In the following decades, Laszlo became ‘Les Murray’, a popular television sports commentator who has publicly championed his favourite game.

... (read more)

This novel raises more interesting questions about its author than about its characters and action.

... (read more)