Dark activities

Dark activities

The Snow Kimono

by Mark Henshaw

Text Publishing, $29.99 pb, 396 pp, 9781922182340

When Mark Henshaw’s début, Out of the Line of Fire, appeared in 1988, it was, as literary editor Stephen Romei states in his introduction to the recent Text Classics reissue, the ‘literary sensation of the year’. A novel about an Australian author’s difficulties in writing about his fugitive subject, the young German philosopher Wolfi, it was very much a book of its moment, when a joyous postmodernism gripped Australian letters. In 1984 the country had hosted its first conference on the topic, with Jean Baudrillard and Paul Virilio, the rock stars of French theory; and by 1988 any serious young insect – myself included – was reading Jorge Luis Borges’s labyrinthine stories, Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Italo Calvino’s experimental novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. That same year Helen Daniel would publish her dense but hugely influential Liars, celebrating our novelists as purveyors of an Australian history (borrowing Mark Twain’s term) made up of ‘beautiful lies’. Henshaw’s novel also carries something of the crackling energy of our bicentenary when our literature was shedding a realism associated with colonialism while announcing a stake in international (often, but not always, European) intellectual traditions.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Published in September 2014 no. 364
Delia Falconer

Delia Falconer

Delia Falconer is the author of two novels: The Service of Clouds (1997) and The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers (2005). She is also the author of Sydney (2011), and editor of The Penguin Book of the Road (2008) and Best Australian Stories (2008 and 2009). She lives in Sydney.

By this contributor

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.