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Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns is a freelance writer and member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. He is a former ABR Patrons' Fellow, and has published short fiction, poetry, and academic articles. He is the author of a memoir, Childhood (Text Publishing, 2022).

Shannon Burns reviews ‘Caledonian Road’ by Andrew O’Hagan

June 2024, no. 465 22 May 2024
One of Caledonian Road’s primary characters, Milo Mangasha, tends to speak in political slogans, which his childhood friend identifies as ‘college talk’. Readers may recognise in Milo the rhetoric of characters in Andrew O’Hagan’s previous novel, Mayflies (2020), a popular and critical success that was subsequently adapted for television. Like Mayflies, Caledonian Road is stridently cert ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'The In-Between' by Christos Tsiolkas

November 2023, no. 459 27 October 2023
When the London theatres closed due to plague in the late 1590s, a still-young William Shakespeare composed and published ‘Venus and Adonis’, a poem about unrequited love, lust, and devotion to beauty. Shakespeare evokes a desire to touch, to kiss, to smell, to taste, to share breath. Christos Tsiolkas’s book 7½ (2021), written and published under similar circumstances, embodies some of thi ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'Murnane' by Emmett Stinson

August 2023, no. 456 25 July 2023
Emmett Stinson’s brief critical survey centres on Gerald Murnane’s four major ‘late fictions’, beginning with Barley Patch (Giramondo, 2009) and ending with Border Districts (Giramondo, 2017). It is a timely and illuminating companion to Murnane’s recent fiction and works well as an extension of the first monograph on his work, Imre Salusinszky’s Gerald Murnane (Oxford University Press ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'Who Cares? Life on welfare in Australia' by Eve Vincent

April 2023, no. 452 28 March 2023
According to its author, Who Cares? offers ‘an up-close, humane and grounded ethnographic account of life on welfare’. Eve Vincent foregrounds the perspectives of people who are subjected to ‘an endlessly reforming welfare system’. Vincent spent substantial time in the field, building relationships with her subjects, and while the history of welfare in Australia is neatly sketched and the ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'The Passenger' and 'Stella Maris' by Cormac McCarthy

January-February 2023, no. 450 28 December 2022
A hunter discovers a woman’s body in the woods on Christmas day, ‘hung among the bare gray poles of the winter trees’, a red sash tied around her dress to make her body visible in the snow. The strong implication is that she has taken her own life. The series of events that led to her decision is one of many mysteries in The Passenger, the first of two connected and long-awaited novels by Co ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'A History of Masculinity: From patriarchy to gender justice' by Ivan Jablonka, translated by Nathan Bracher

July 2022, no. 444 25 June 2022
A History of Masculinity begins with the observation that we live in a global patriarchy that restricts the rights and freedoms of women, and that remedying this situation is a matter of urgent concern. To that end, ‘we need egalitarian men who care more about respect than power’. Ivan Jablonka acknowledges the accusation that men who are active in the feminist movement simply amplify sexist d ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'Young Mungo' by Douglas Stuart

June 2022, no. 443 23 May 2022
Like the Booker-winning Shuggie Bain (2020), Douglas Stuart’s second novel is set in the post-Thatcher, post-industrial, working-class Glasgow housing schemes dominated by unemployment and dysfunctional families. Both novels are populated with alcoholic mothers and violent or absent fathers whose neglected children are forever vulnerable to abuse and hardship. Their titular protagonists must fit ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'Scary Monsters' by Michelle de Kretser

October 2021, no. 436 23 September 2021
To read Michelle de Kretser’s fiction is to sense important details swimming under the surface of our awareness, forming patterns that will come into view by the end of the story, or after contemplating it for a time, or while rereading. There is always enough to satisfy our immediate needs – rich aphorisms, sharp characterisation, satirical wickedness, the play of language, political and hist ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'The Other Half of You' by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

August 2021, no. 434 22 July 2021
Bani Adam returns as the narrator–protagonist of Michael Mohammed Ahmad’s The Other Half of You, a sequel to his two previous books. The most recent one, The Lebs (2018), gave us the story of Bani’s teenage years at Punchbowl Boys’ High School: the trials of a Lebanese Muslim boy in a majority Lebanese Muslim community nestled inside the larger, diverse territories of Western Sydney, in po ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'O' by Steven Carroll

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
On the back cover of O, we learn that the protagonist of the novel, Dominique, lived through the German occupation of France, participated in the Resistance, relished its ‘clandestine life’, and later wrote an ‘erotic novel about surrender, submission and shame’, which became the real-life international bestseller and French national scandal, Histoire d’O (1954). ‘But what is the story ... (read more)
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