It is fitting that ‘Waking’, a poem that links waking with birth, opens this inspired début collection from Emma Jones: ‘There was one morning // when my mother woke and felt a twitch / inside, like the shifting of curtains. // She woke and so did I.’ So the narrator-poet announces her arrival. The birthing theme continues in the next poem, ‘Farming’, in which pearls are ‘shucked from the heart of their grey mothers’. The same poem also foregrounds the poet’s interest in Ballard-like submerged worlds – oyster farms and shipwrecks, but also entire cities – and in the polarities of sky and sea. Indeed, this collection as a whole engages imaginatively with many dualisms: worldly/other worldly, internal/external, being/not being, self/other. Jones’s method is one of controlled playfulness, and despite many allusions to biblical themes and imagery, she avoids the didactic dualism of good/evil.... (read more)
Geoff Page reviews 'Space: New Writing, No. 3' edited by Anthony Lynch and David McCooey and 'Island 105' edited by Gina Mercer
The American poet William Carlos Williams often admitted how much he owed to the ‘little magazines’ that first published him. As they lapsed in and out of existence, he regarded them all as essentially the one publication and was grateful for the lifeblood they gave his (at first unpopular) writing. It is to be hoped that Australian literary magazines of various political shades and aesthetic proclivities, from Quadrant to Overland, are doing something similar. Indeed, when so much else is in flux in the publishing world, it is amazing how enduring Australia’s top literary magazines have been, despite their often small subscription lists. Even Island magazine, which is something of a junior compared to Meanjin, Southerly, and Westerly, has been around for twenty-seven years. Space: New Writing, on the other hand, has just appeared in its third number. To judge from the best material in the current issues of both magazines, Australian literary culture is not being ill-served here. If not everything is of equal interest (how could it be?), there is plenty of satisfaction to be had in both.... (read more)
Many readers – though apparently not enough to have saved them – will mourn the recent demise of Black Inc.’s annual Best Australian anthologies of essays, stories, and poems (which first appeared in 1998, 1999, and 2003, respectively). The last of these, however, has won something of a reprieve in Best Summer Stories ...... (read more)
To celebrate the best books of 2018, Australian Book Review invited nearly forty contributors to nominate their favourite titles. Contributors include Michelle de Kretser... (read more)
As a boy, I watched with fascination an early sci-fi horror film, The Blob. After a meteorite lands in Pennsylvania, a small, gelatinous blob emerges from the crater. Starting with an inquisitive old man who probes this runaway black pudding with his walking stick, the blob proceeds to consume, literally, everything ...... (read more)
Robert Drewe’s first short story collection, the widely acclaimed The Bodysurfers (1983), opens with a story of the Lang family – children Annie, David, and Max, taken by their recently widowed father for a Christmas Day lunch at a local hotel, where it becomes apparent that their father is on intimate terms with the hotel manageress.... (read more)
In the final novella of Nick Earls's quintet The Wisdom Tree, a benign security guard, Wanda, misquotes Tolstoy: 'No family is perfect. But each family isn't perfect in its own ...... (read more)
‘How did you even begin to fit two adult lives together so that they happily resembled a whole?’ Jonathan Lott, the main character in Susan Johnson’s tenth novel, asks himself. It is giving little away to say that by book’s end there are no definitive answers. But Jonathan’s attempts to make sense of his wife Sarah’s defection from their decades-lo ...
The title of Cassandra Atherton’s anthology, Travelling Without Gods, alludes to the particular brand of agnosticism that has run through Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s work over many decades. Journeying sans deity is evidenced strongly in the poet’s latest collection, a book which, like Atherton’s, has been published to coincide with Wallace-Crabbe’s eight ...