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Christina Hill

Christina Hill is a Melbourne-based writer.

Christina Hill reviews 'Families: Modern Australian short stories' edited by Barry Oakley

December 2008–January 2009, no. 307 01 December 2008
Barry Oakley, in his brief introduction to Families: Modern Australian Short Stories, tells us that the quality he was seeking in the fiction was ‘vitality’. This seems a rather broad filter: surely all good writing must possess vitality if it is going to hold the reader’s attention? Notwithstanding, many of the stories here are good, even excellent. Although some of the less well-known wri ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'An Accidental Terrorist' by Steven Lang

May 2006, no. 281 01 May 2006
Steven Lang has a fine sense of the Australian vernacular and creates believable characters. This novel forges a new genre (maybe it’s just new to me): the environmental thriller. Protagonist Kelvin was a street kid and rent-boy in Kings Cross. Now twenty-one and beautiful, he fetches up, after years of aimless drifting and casual work in remote locations, in his home town of Eden, which he fled ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'The Devil and Maria d'Avalos' by Victoria Hammond

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
In this novel, Victoria Hammond, an art historian, describes the architecture, painting and music of Naples in the early modern period, and, more generally, excels at what anthropologist Clifford Geertz calls ‘thick description’. The context of The Devil and Maria d’Avalos is late sixteenth-century Naples, and the narrative brims with historical specificities. The author’s preface informs ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'Feather Man' by Rhyll McMaster

July–August 2007, no. 293 01 July 2007
Rhyll McMaster established her considerable reputation as a poet in the 1970s and 1980s.  Feather Man is her début novel. In a first-person narrative, the protagonist recounts her life story from the time when she was a child living in suburban Brisbane in the 1950s until her emergence as a painter in London in the 1970s. It is a Kunstleroman divided into four parts, each named for a signifi ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'The Gospel of Gods and Crocodiles' by Elizabeth Stead

May 2007, no. 291 26 August 2022
The Gospel of Gods And Crocodiles rewrites the boys’ own adventure tale of the nineteenth century. In an intertextual gesture, R.M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island (1857) is the favourite book of one of Elizabeth Stead’s main characters. The thrill of conquest and the titillation of cannibal atrocities typical of Ballantyne’s imperialist fiction are thus replaced by a humanitarian concern wi ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'Aphelion' by Emily Ballou

June 2007, no. 292 01 June 2007
Aphelion can be called a family epic in that it is long and has many characters. The title of the novel refers to the sun; a character explains that ‘there is a point in astronomy when a planet is at its furthest point from the sun, the slowest point in its orbit. It’s called aphelion. I guess it’s the darkest point.’ In this, her second novel, Emily Ballou uses overlapping and intersectin ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'The Night Has a Thousand Eyes' by Mandy Sayer

October 2007, no. 295 01 October 2007
This novella is crammed with incident. It includes domestic violence, a decomposing corpse, incest, child abuse, alcoholism, murder, attempted murder, an unnamed and oddly passive baby, guns and a hair-raising cross-country chase. Roy Stamp, a one-legged alcoholic in a car (he can drive), pursues his fourteen-year old daughter, Ruby, and his twelve-year-old son, Mark, because the boy has seen, thr ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'The Great Arch' by Vicki Hastrich

February 2009, no. 308 01 February 2009
The Great Arch has considerable if unlikely charm. It is a history of the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a novel about real and imagined people living near its construction site. Hastrich brings to life (potentially dry) detail about huge steel plates, creeping cranes, rivets and cables. We see this mostly in the writings and photographs of her central character, an Anglican vicar who re ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'The Well in the Shadow: A writer’s journey through Australian literature' by Chester Eagle

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
The Well in the Shadow, whose title is drawn from Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Coonardoo (1929), is an unconventional book, shaped entirely by Chester Eagle’s idiosyncratic responses to certain writers and their work. Eagle’s engagement with, and enthusiasm for, the texts he considers are undeniable. So too is his close knowledge of the books and writers discussed. The range of subjects is ... (read more)

Christina Hill reviews 'Everything I Knew' by Peter Goldsworthy

November 2008, no. 306 25 October 2019
‘The past is another country. They do things differently there.’ L.P. Hartley   In his latest novel, Everything I Knew, Peter Goldsworthy uses this famous quotation. Indeed, it is so apposite that it might well have provided the epigraph. Everything I Knew is, in part, a self-conscious reworking of Hartley’s The Go-Between (1953). The first-person narrator, Robert Burns, is a naïve ... (read more)
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