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James Bradley

James Bradley is a writer and critic. His books include the novels, WrackThe Deep Field, The ResurrectionistClade and Ghost Species; a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus; and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. His first book of non-fiction, Deep Water: The World in the Ocean will be published by Hamish Hamilton in April 2024.

James Bradley reviews 'Utopia Avenue' by David Mitchell

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
With its cast of freaks and hustlers, damaged souls, and self-proclaimed geniuses, the music world seems custom-made for novelists. Yet while some excellent novels catch more than a whiff of that sweaty, drug-fuelled space where the shared exultance of music becomes something transcendent – Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments (1987), Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad (2010), Dana Spiotta ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'The Rich Man’s House' by Andrew McGahan

September 2019, no. 414 02 September 2019
Andrew McGahan’s final book, The Rich Man’s House, opens with an apology. ‘It’s a finished novel – I wouldn’t be letting it out into the world if it wasn’t – but I can’t deny that my abrupt decline in health has forced the publishers and I to hurry the rewriting and editing process extremely, and that this is not quite the book it would have been had cancer not intervened … for ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'The White Earth' by Andrew McGahan

May 2004, no. 261 01 May 2004
‘White’ and ‘earth’ are not words that sit easily together in an Australian context, so much so that placing them thus seems almost deliberately unsettling. Juxtaposed, they only serve to remind us of things that are mostly too hard for us to look at directly, a claim to a possession all know to be ill-founded. ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Preservation' by Jock Serong

December 2018, no. 407 26 November 2018
On 15 May 1797 a fishing boat passing Wattamolla, in what is now Sydney’s Royal National Park, spotted three men on the beach. Rescued and returned to Sydney, the trio – tea merchant and supercargo William Clarke, sailor John Bennet, and Clarke’s lascar manservant, Srinivas – told an extraordinary story. After their ship, the Sydney Cove, was wrecked on Preservation Island in Bass Strait, ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Dyschronia' by Jennifer Mills

March 2018, no. 399 22 February 2018
Recent years have seen the literary novel begin to mutate, its boundaries and subject matter evolving in new and sometimes surprising directions as it attempts to accommodate the increasing weirdness of the world we inhabit. In her own, sometimes subterranean way, Jennifer Mills has been one of the architects of this process in Australian writing. Having begun her career with the beautifully cons ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Barkskins' by Annie Proulx

August 2016, no. 383 21 July 2016
The bleaching event that devastated much of the Great Barrier Reef in recent months made it clear that Earth's ecosystems are in crisis, driven to the brink by rising temperatures, pollution, and habitat loss. While there is a tendency to regard this situation as a product of the past century, the reality is that almost every environment on Earth has been irrevocably altered – or destroyed – b ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Antarctica: That Sweep of Savage Splendour' edited by Alasdair McGregor

September 2011, no. 334 23 August 2011
On 18 January 1773, less than twenty-four hours after first entering Antarctic waters and concerned by the ice gathering around the Resolution, Commander James Cook surveyed the waters. A few hours later he wrote in his journal: ‘From the mast head I could see nothing to the Southward but Ice, in the Whole extent from East to WSW without the least appearance of any partition.’ ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Bird Cloud' by Annie Proulx

April 2011, no. 330 24 March 2011
Almost two decades ago, when The Shipping News (1993) transformed Annie Proulx into an unlikely literary superstar, one might have been forgiven for thinking she was a writer whose gift lay in quirky depictions of small-town life and in the fetishisation of antiquarian and folk detail. Such an assumption would have been mistaken. Anyone looking for the outlines of Proulx’s subsequent output wou ... (read more)
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