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Rodney Hall

Just Relations by Rodney Hall & North Wind by John Morrison

August 1982, no. 43

These two works of fiction at first seem to offer only a contrast in literary style and method. John Morrison’s book is a collection of stories ranging from the title story, published in his first collection, Sailors Belong Ships (1947), to four not previously published in book form ...

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Of the now twelve novels that make up Rodney Hall’s distinguished prose fiction – ranging from The Ship on the Coin (1972) to this year’s A Stolen Season – it is arguably in the latter that the task of remaking is most explicitly and adventurously undertaken, even literally in the case of Adam Griffiths. As an Australian ...

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Early success is no guarantee of a book’s continued availability or circulation. Some major and/or once-fashionable authors recede from public consciousness, and in some cases go out of print. We invited some writers and critics to identity novelists who they feel should be better known.

Everybody knows by now that the eBook may soon become as significant to literature as recording is to music. The copyright problems are evident, but on the positive side the tired old market-driven canon is being given a rude shake-up.

Quality speaks for itself. Recent welcome revivals include editions of David Ireland’s The Unknown Industrial Prisoner (1971) and Kenneth Mackenzie’s flawless evocation of adolescent love, The Young Desire It (1937). Now, for the first time in seventy-eight years, J.P. McKinney’s novel of the Great War, Crucible, has been reissued by a small Canberra publisher as an eBook.

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Silence by Rodney Hall

November 2011, no. 336

Isaiah Berlin famously divided people into two categories: hedgehogs and foxes. The former know one big thing with absolute certainty; the latter know many small things. When it comes to writers of fiction, a parallel distinction might be made on stylistic grounds. There are some writers who cultivate a finely attuned personal style – a style that becomes unmistak ...

I write for a reader, any reader – just one – who is willing to participate on a creative level in the experience of my book. I do not plan my novels, and I think if I ever did I would lose interest in finishing them. Nor do I ever alter the order in which the narrative unfolds. Otherwise, how would I keep track of what my reader knows and doesn’t know? I don’t care about plot. Instead, the aim is to transmogrify experience. What drives me is the music of the sentence. It’s all about a shared energy with the reader. That’s what fires me up.

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Mike heaves the window down to slam it shut, and Di comes running across the carpet just in time to see the whole town change into black chimneys and glass flashes and this one WOW! comes so close i duck and the windows rattle and i see weird rooms over there like bright toilets and rooms with cupboards and enormous shadows flicker on the wallpaper, but im not ...

Do not be misled by the ‘Childhood Memories’ of the subtitle. Self-indulgent nostalgia is nowhere to be found in this book, which is a richly novelistic saga of a war-time family in Britain. It is Rodney Hall’s genius that his story evokes strong personal memories in the mind of the reader: in my case of a North Queensland childhood during the 1950s, punctuated by destructive cyclones and deadly marine stingers, rather than by German air raids. To read this book is a double pleasure: we enter both the world of young Rod and our own childhood at the same time.

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A conversation about an anachronism led Rodney Hall to this new novel, Love without Hope. He acknowledges his wife as the person who informed him that until the 1980s there was a Department of Lunacy in New South Wales, with an asylum superintendent titled the Master of Lunacy.

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There is often a speculative dimension to Rodney Hall’s fiction. Throughout his long career, he has tended to build his novels around alternative histories or unusual possibilities. Past works have imagined scenarios as diverse as Adolf Hitler arriving on the south coast of New South Wales and (where does he get his ideas?) Australia becoming a republic. The Last Love Story is in some respects unrepresentative of Hall’s vivid and expansive body of work. Compared to some of his earlier novels, it is concise and the natural flamboyance of his writing seems a little subdued. The novel does, however, develop from a typically interesting ‘what if?’

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