Brenda Walker

Brenda Walker is Emerita Professor of English and Literary Studies at the University of Western Australia. Her book Reading by Moonlight is a study of reading during illness.

Brenda Walker reviews 'Bedtime Story' by Chloe Hooper

May 2022, no. 442 24 April 2022
Brenda Walker reviews 'Bedtime Story' by Chloe Hooper
A father sits on a couch that is set between the beds of his young sons, who must be eased into sleep with a story. The scene is illuminated by a lamp in the shape of the globe, which is as it should be, for he shows them his world through the simple patterns of these stories: his cherishing of the natural world; his insight into happy reversals of fortune; his humour. The father’s stories are s ... (read more)

Brenda Walker reviews 'Leaping into Waterfalls: The enigmatic Gillian Mears' by Bernadette Brennan

December 2021, no. 438 23 November 2021
Brenda Walker reviews 'Leaping into Waterfalls: The enigmatic Gillian Mears' by Bernadette Brennan
In 2011, Bernadette Brennan convened a symposium on ‘Narrative and Healing’ at the University of Sydney, an opportunity for specialists in medicine and bereavement to meet writers with comparable interests. Helen Garner, for example, spoke about Joe Cinque’s Consolation. The day included an audiovisual piece about death as a kind of homecoming, with reference to the prodigal son, and exquisi ... (read more)

Brenda Walker reviews 'Life as Art: The biographical writing of Hazel Rowley' edited by Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan

August 2021, no. 434 22 July 2021
Brenda Walker reviews 'Life as Art: The biographical writing of Hazel Rowley' edited by Della Rowley and Lynn Buchanan
The biographer Hazel Rowley enjoyed the fact that her green card – permitting her to work in America – classified her as an ‘Alien of exceptional ability’. This is close to perfect: her own biography in a few words. If not exactly an alien, she was usefully and often shrewdly awry in a variety of situations: in the academic world of the 1990s, in tense Parisian literary circles, and in the ... (read more)

Brenda Walker reviews 'Randolph Stow: Critical essays' edited by Kate Leah Rendell

May 2021, no. 431 27 April 2021
Brenda Walker reviews 'Randolph Stow: Critical essays' edited by Kate Leah Rendell
‘Land isn’t always meant to be grasped any more than art is, or dust,’ writes Michael Farrell in the arresting opening sentence of the first essay of Kate Leah Rendell’s Randolph Stow: Critical essays. Stow’s writing shows just how provisional meaning and territoriality can be, and the statement is a fitting beginning to a new book about his work. Randolph Stow (1935–2010) is a partic ... (read more)

Brenda Walker reviews 'Jumbo' by Gabrielle Lord

October 1986, no. 85 01 October 1986
Brenda Walker reviews 'Jumbo' by Gabrielle Lord
Gabrielle Lord’s novels – Fortress, Tooth and Claw and now, Jumbo, are all topical, readable, and (I expect) highly marketable. Lord is a scriptwriter as well as a novelist and each of these books seems like a transit point between a great idea and the kind of film which makes you lean forward in your seat and temporarily abandon regular breathing. There is, however, much to be said for them, ... (read more)

Brenda Walker reviews 'What Are You Going Through: A novel' by Sigrid Nunez

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
Brenda Walker reviews 'What Are You Going Through: A novel' by Sigrid Nunez
In 1976, Sigrid Nunez moved into an apartment on Riverside Drive in New York with her then boyfriend, David Reiff, and his mother, Susan Sontag. Nunez is a person who cherishes solitude. In Sempre Susan, her tribute to Sontag, she describes the strain of living with extroverts when her dream, from her teenage years, had been: ‘A single room. A chair, a table, a bed. Windows on a garden. Music. B ... (read more)

Brenda Walker reviews 'The Walls of Jericho' by Julie Lewis and 'The Wild Dogs' by Peter Skrzynecki

August 1987, no, 93 01 August 1987
Brenda Walker reviews 'The Walls of Jericho' by Julie Lewis and 'The Wild Dogs' by Peter Skrzynecki
At various times in its history, the Australian short story has been predictable, as editorial and public appetites have limited experimentation. I am glad to be reading now, when approval can be conferred on collections as different and as variously excellent as Julie Lewis’s The Walls of Jericho and Peter Skrzynecki’s The Wild Dogs. Lewis’s work is more formally experimental than Skrzyneck ... (read more)

Brenda Walker reviews 'Company of Images' by Janine Burke

May 1989, no. 110 01 May 1989
Brenda Walker reviews 'Company of Images' by Janine Burke
Janine Burke’s Company of Images is a funny and socially astute book about painters and their promoters in contemporary Melbourne. The humour comes from sharp observations and deft characterisations. Burke’s minor figures are like good caricatures, but her major characters are a complex blend of impulses and emotions, which can be funny or sad. She takes the opportunity to send up predictably ... (read more)

Brenda Walker reviews 'The Returns' by Philip Salom

September 2019, no. 414 27 August 2019
Brenda Walker reviews 'The Returns' by Philip Salom
A bookseller, Trevor, sits in his shop in Melbourne making conversation with his customers: an exasperating mixture of confessional, hesitant, deranged, and disruptive members of the public. One man stalks him, armed with an outrageous personal demand; another tries to apologise for assaulting him. The apology is almost as unnerving as the attack. The bookshop is a kind of theatre, with a ceiling ... (read more)
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