While I was reading this compelling but occasionally problematic novel, I started thinking about Oscar Wilde. Pretentious? Moi? The thing is, when I’m torn between opposing views of the same thing, I tend to think of Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol … ‘two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars’. So I found myself in two minds about this book, mainly because, two ... (read more)
Phil Brown is a Brisbane journalist and author. He is the author of two books of poetry – Plastic Parables and An Accident in the Evening – and two books of humorous memoir – Travel with My Angst and Any Guru Will Do, both of which were published by UQP. He is senior writer for the News Limited lifestyle magazine Brisbane News.
I am surprised this book doesn’t come in plain packaging. Its title was inspired, after all, by a cigarette – Belomorkanal, also known as Belomor, a Russian brand the author describes as ‘strong, mood-altering cigarettes’. This cigarette motif suggests the lost world of Europe, when the Iron Curtain still hung. ... (read more)
Balancing the big picture with the intimate details that engage us when reading a novel is not easy. This latest book from veteran Australian author Tom Keneally is epic in scope, but takes us into the intimate worlds of particular people. This is the way to tell a story about an event as mammoth as World War I. Keneally, the author of Schindler’s Ark (1982) and many other fine works of fiction ... (read more)
February 2012, no. 338 • 20 January 2012
Small towns, as anyone who has lived in one can attest, abound in colourful characters. Or is it just that people’s peccadilloes are magnified without the distractions of the madding crowd? Rod Usher knows a thing or two about small towns; he happens to live in one: the village of Barcarrota in Extremadura, Spain. After a long career in journalism – including stints as literary editor of The A ... (read more)