Vintage

Kate Finlayson’s first novel is a bumpy bronco ride, as exhilarating, confronting, and messy as the Northern Territory that she writes about so passionately. Finlayson’s protagonist, Connie, is stuck barmaiding in a rough city pub. Despite her street smarts and university degree, Connie is starting to go to the dogs along with the pub’s patrons. She decides to leave Sydney to pursue a post-adolescent obsession with Rod Ansell, the inspiration for the Crocodile Dundee films. Ansell (his real name) is hiding somewhere in the Territory, and Connie fantasises about finding him and turning him into her ideal lover, her longed-for soul mate.

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The Coconut Children is an assured début from nineteen-year-old novelist Vivian Pham, who has drawn upon the richness of Sydney’s south-western suburbs to construct a deeply affecting coming-of-age story revolving around teenager Sonny. Pham’s language is melodramatic at times. With bold flourishes she expertly captures the internal monologue of a teenage girl navigating the everyday travails of being a young woman – schoolyard crushes and the ‘violent ammunition of her love thoughts’, an ever-changing body, and a burgeoning sexual awakening – alongside the darker undercurrents present within Sonny’s family and her wider community: sexual abuse, domestic violence, intergenerational trauma, addiction, and poverty.

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Geordie Williamson reviews 'The Dickens Boy' by Tom Keneally

Geordie Williamson
Friday, 20 March 2020

‘When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished.’ That gunshot of a quotation comes from the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. I suspect he means writers are traitors to biology – they have higher allegiances than blood ties. Art is their true spouse; their works are the favoured first-born.

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Amy Baillieu reviews 'The Bass Rock' by Evie Wyld

Amy Baillieu
Monday, 24 February 2020

In a 2013 interview with British literary magazine Structo, Anglo-Australian author Evie Wyld recalls lamenting to a writing tutor that she wanted to write a big action thriller, ‘something with Arnold Schwarzenegger and machine guns and blood and explosions’ but was always writing ‘really quiet little paragraphs about Dads’. These paragraphs evolved into her haunting début novel, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice (2009). Wyld’s Miles Franklin Award-winning second novel, All the Birds, Singing (2013), was followed by a graphic memoir produced in collaboration with Joe Sumner, Everything Is Teeth (2015), detailing childhood summers spent on Wyld’s grandparents’ sugar cane farm and her shark fixation. The Bass Rock, her new novel, may not be a big action thriller either, but it is far from quiet and there is plenty of blood.

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Cheryl Jorgensen reviews 'The Grand Hotel: A novel' by Gregory Day

Cheryl Jorgensen
Thursday, 20 February 2020

According to the author’s note at the end of The Grand Hotel, this will probably be the last of his stories to be set in fictional Mangowak, a coastal town in south-western Victoria. The first, The Patron Saint of Eels (2005), won the 2006 Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. The second, Ron McCoy’s Sea of Diamonds (2007), was shortlisted for the 2008 New South Wales Premier’s Prize for Fiction.

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Elliot Perlman’s fourth novel is tentatively billed as a corporate satire and has a striking opening line: ‘I am absolutely terrified of losing a job I absolutely hate.’ The man in this all-too-familiar predicament is Stephen Maserov, a former English teacher turned lawyer. Maserov is a lowly second year in the Terry Gilliam-esque law firm Freely Savage Carter Blanche, which, apart from sounding like a character in a Tennessee Williams play, is home to loathsome dinosaurs in pinstripe suits and an HR department referred to as ‘The Stasi’.

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In one sense, the publisher’s blurb on this novel says it all.

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If history is a graveyard of dead aristocracies, the novel is their eulogy. It is now, for instance, a critical commonplace to explain the young Proust’s entry into the closed world of France’s nobility as an occurrence made possible by its dissolution. Close to death, holding only vestigial power, the fag ends of the ancien régime lost the will or ...

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Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Dreams of Speaking' by Gail Jones

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Wednesday, 10 July 2019

If you can say immediately what you think a novel is ‘about’, then the chances are that it may not be a very good novel. Fiction as a genre gives writers and readers imaginative room to move, to work on a vertical axis of layers of meaning as well as along the horizontal forward movement of narrative development ...

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How much do you care about sheep? I mean really care about sheep. Because The Ballad of Desmond Kale is up to its woolly neck in them. It’s an unusual and inspired variation on the classic Australian colonial novel of hunters for fortune, for identity and for redemption ...

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