Janette Turner Hospital

Janette Turner Hospital, who grew up in Brisbane, has taught in Australian and overseas universities, and is well regarded as a novelist and short story writer; among several prizes she has won the Patrick White Award. The stories in her new collection, Forecast: Turbulence, are set in several places where she has lived, including Canada and the American South, where the weather is similarly violent. Despite the fact that this metaphor is flagged throughout this collection, I formed little sense of many of her characters in either place or clime.

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Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital

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May 2007, no. 291

If the role of myth is to elaborate an unbearable truth so frequently and variously that its burden is made bearable, it is no wonder that the story of Orpheus and Eurydice exists in a multitude of retellings and a plethora of different versions on canvas, screen, stage and disc. Most of these remain faithful to its romantic-tragic paradigm: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy does not get her back. Consumers of this myth of inexhaustible mystery willingly relive, time and time again, the magnetic pull of fathomless love and the black hole of inconsolable loss. 

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The mind, a friend of mine (female) once said to me, is the sexiest organ. I agree absolutely; and this extremely uneven anthology is replete with evidence that what turns us on – in the flesh, in art, in literature – is not genital activity per se, but the reactive imagination.

Of or pertaining to sexual love; arousing or satisfying sexual desire, the Macquarie Dictionary says of erotic, though the Greek erotikas means simply ‘pertaining to love’. The editorial introduction to this book (though, happily, not the actual editorial exercise of selection) opts for the Macquarie’s first definition and interprets it narrowly:

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Borderline by Janette Turner Hospital

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April 1986, no. 79

Janette Turner Hospital was born in Melbourne, but has lived and travelled abroad in recent years. Borderline, her third novel, is set for the most part in Boston and Montreal. It is a mystery story which contains many of the conventional ingredients of the genre: disappearances, murder and violence, mysterious messages. However, these things are subsidiary to its dominating theme which is an exploration of the nature of reality. In this it achieves mixed results, but on the whole favourable ones.

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