Thuy On

Pushing Back by John Kinsella

by
April 2021, no. 430

Comprising more than thirty works of poetry, fiction, memoir, and criticism, John Kinsella’s prolific output is impressive, and this figure doesn’t include his collaborations with other artists. Here is a writer who swims between boundaries, experiments with form and content, and eludes easy categorisation. His most recent novel, Hollow Earth (2019), was a foray into science fiction and fantasy, and his most recent poetry volume The Weave (2020), was co-written with Thurston Moore, founder of NYC rock group Sonic Youth.

... (read more)

The Paper House by Anna Spargo-Ryan

by
September 2016, no. 384

The Paper House begins benignly, even buoyantly, with a recently married couple, a new house, and the stirrings of pregnancy. But the intense grief that suddenly ...

... (read more)

Twitcher by Cherise Saywell

by
March 2013, no. 349

When sixteen-year-old Kenno and his family are evicted from their coastal rental property, Kenno is unconcerned: he has a cunning plan that will give them enough money to purchase his dream home. The idea involves lodging a compensatory claim for an accident that happened years ago. But Kenno needs his older sister, Lou, to fill in the details. She has a welte ...

The birth of Tom Downs on the banks of the Murray River in South Australia tragically coincided with the death of his mother. His premature arrival – in the breech position – subsequently informs how his life is played out.

... (read more)

Sixteen-year-old Jemima (Mim) Dodd lives in a dilapidated house on the edge of suburbia, with an overweight, couch-loving mother. Mim’s two elder half-brothers are in remand for drug-related offences, and she is struggling not to be sucked into her neighbourhood’s vortex of sex, crime, and violence. Mim seems to be a victim both of her hostile social environment and her dysfunctional family ...

The initial premise of John Tesarsch’s first novel sounds like a modern-day reworking of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol as seen through the prism of B-grade Hollywood melodrama ...

... (read more)

Sometimes you can get away with judging a book by its cover. Even without knowing the sub-title, a cursory glance at Mardi McConnochie’s latest novel suggests high romance, with its picture of an elegantly coiffed woman kissing her paramour against a seascape backdrop. Indeed, The Voyagers unashamedl ...

The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

by
May 2011, no. 331

In 1967, eleven schoolgirls and their teacher take a field trip to the public gardens in Sydney. There, Miss Renshaw and her young charges meet the teacher’s friend and possible paramour – a gardener and a poet. The charismatic Morgan takes them to a nearby wet, low-roofed cave, ostensibly to see some sacred Dreamtime paintings. The girls are both giddy and alarmed at this unauthorised excu ...

Sustenance by Simone Lazaroo

by
September 2010, no. 324

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)

Swallow the Air by Tara June Winch

by
June-July 2006, no. 282

Swallow the Air won the 2004 David Unaipon Award for Indigenous Writers. Judging by this slender volume of work, the choice was a judicious one. Thematically, Tara June Winch’s début effort travels along the well-worn path of fiction based on personal experiences, with the protagonist propelling the narrative through a journey of self-discovery. In this respect, Swallow the Air nestles snugly in the semi-autobiographical framework favoured by first novelists, but the sophistication and subtlety of the prose belie Winch’s age; she is twenty-two, but writes with the élan of those much more accomplished. Swallow the Air can either be read as a novel with short chapters or as a series of interlinked short stories.

... (read more)
Page 1 of 2