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Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department at Southampton University. Her publications include an edited book of interviews with Iris Murdoch (2003), V.S. Naipaul, Man and Writer (2006), J.M. Coetzee and the Power of Narrative (2010), and journal articles on a range of literary topics including music in the life and work of Jane Austen. In 2005 she co-edited Matthew Flinders’ Private Journal and in 2014 she published an edition of the correspondence between Iris Murdoch and the Australian radical philosopher Brian Medlin. She has been a regular reviewer for ABR since 2002. She is founding editor of the online journals Transnational Literature and Writers in Conversation.

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Extinctions' by Josephine Wilson

January–February 2017, no. 388 20 December 2016
Extinctions takes its time giving up its secrets, and there are some we will never know. One of its most persistent enigmas is what kind of book it is. I wondered, during the first half, whether it was a powerful and perceptive example of the Bildungsroman for seniors: an elderly person (usually male) meets someone new who teaches him to be a better person, to pay attention to the important things ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Boy on the Tricycle' by Marcel Weyland and 'The May Beetles' by Baba Schwartz

June–July 2016, no. 382 23 May 2016
Memoirs of Eastern European children of the 1920s could hardly be more different than this pair. The old age Marcel Weyland describes in The Boy on the Tricycle is a happy outcome for a boy who fled the Nazis. 'Fortunately,' he writes, 'I quite like what I am.' Before World War II, he describes 'a fairly typically, affluent, middle-European and middle-class, and in our case Jewish, household' in t ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Places Women Make: Unearthing the contribution of women to our cities' by Jane Jose

May 2016, no. 381 27 April 2016
In Places Women Make, Jane Jose writes that she is ‘not proving a theory about the skills of men versus those of women’, but celebrating ‘the places in cities we know women have given us’. Jose moves with sometimes disorienting rapidity from place to place, from female lord mayor to colonial matron to feisty 1970s female activist. We learn that the female perspective is ‘different’, t ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Long Run' by Catriona Menzies-Pike

April 2016, no. 380 30 March 2016
When I heard that there was a new book out on why women run, I assumed I would be reading about women fleeing domestic horrors rather than running marathons. Such a reaction might make Catriona Menzies-Pike sigh with frustration, and the cultural myopia which gave rise to my unthinking assumption is one of the reasons she wrote this book. 'I'd read a lot of books about running, but I struggled to ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Simple Act of Reading' edited by Debra Adelaide

January-February 2016, no. 378 21 December 2015
Let's start with the title. The act of reading is anything but simple, as Fiona McFarlane and Gabrielle Carey both point out. Eyes, brain, and mind cooperate to create from a series of symbols with no intrinsic representative value a coherent message, or some amusing nonsense, or a persuasive argument, or a boring anecdote, or a parade of transparent lies. Debra Adelaide has collected several pre ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Settling Day' by Kate Howarth

December 2015, no. 377 30 November 2015
Kate Howarth is the child of a single mother, father uncertain, brought up by her Aboriginal grandmother. She in turn becomes pregnant at sixteen. Determined to keep her son despite the pressure to give him up for adoption, she marries the father. The marriage doesn't go well and Kate leaves without her son, hoping to come back for him when she is settled, but things don't go as planned and she do ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'How to Write a Thesis' by Umberto Eco, translated by Caterina Mongiat Farina and Geoff Farina

September 2015, no. 374 27 August 2015
In 1977, before personal computers and the Internet, Umberto Eco published How to Write a Thesis. It has remained in print ever since, but only now is it available in English. The book hasn’t been updated and makes no concessions to technological change. Space is devoted to card indexes and manual typewriters, offering alternatives if the student owns an IBM Selectric. Eco advises choosing a the ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'A Guide to Berlin' by Gail Jones

September 2015, no. 374 25 August 2015
I sit in a safe room with the winter sun on my back and read of violence and menace in an icy city. Gail Jones’s Berlin is so bleak and the novel’s dénouement so shattering that I need that brief benign warmth. This is not, I hasten to protest, a spoiler: the book begins by foreshadowing a scene of guilt, shock, and death, to which the novel’s action then gradually unfolds. Jones’s oeuv ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Poets' Stairwell' by Alan Gould

June-July 2015, no. 372 28 May 2015
In 1977 the aspiring poet Alan Gould travelled through Europe with his friend Kevin Hart. Just such a tour forms the narrative thread for Gould’s latest novel, The Poets’ Stairwell. This is a roman à clef and those in the know will enjoy the identification game. More interesting, though, is the intellectual journey; Gould’s virginal twenty-seven-year-old hero, Claude Boon, slowly defining ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'To Love a Sunburnt Country' by Jackie French

January-February 2015, no. 368 01 January 2015
Jackie French, according to the press release for her new adult novel To Love a Sunburnt Country, has written over 140 books in a twenty-five-year career. Many are for children and teenagers. I have only read one other, A Waltz for Matilda (2012), the first in ‘the Matilda Saga’ for teens; but these two books share at least one character and several characteristics. One of these is size − t ... (read more)