Gretchen Shirm

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'You Belong Here' by Laurie Steed

Gretchen Shirm
Thursday, 26 April 2018

Interwoven short story collections are often at their best when they offer multiple perspectives on the same event. Laurie Steed does this well in his début novel You Belong Here, as he captures the life of a single family through the multiplicity of its members. Jen meets Steven on her way to a party in Brunswick in 1972 ...

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Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Rain Birds' by Harriet McKnight

Gretchen Shirm
Wednesday, 27 September 2017

In Harriet McKnight’s début novel, a story about early onset dementia is offset by a second conservation-focused narrative involving the glossy black cockatoo. This braided structure immediately creates anticipation about where and how the two stories will meet. Pina is the primary carer for her husband, Alan, whose illness ...

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Gretchen Shirm reviews 'To Know My Crime' by Fiona Capp

Gretchen Shirm
Friday, 24 February 2017

Described as ‘modern literary noir’, Fiona Capp’s novel delves deeper into the psychology of its characters than most in the genre. The opening is sleek and pacey, as Capp guides us expertly through the central intrigue.

Ned is squatting in a boatshed on the Mornington Peninsula, having entrusted the investment of the sum of his and his sister’s inhe ...

Josephine Taylor reviews 'Where the Light Falls' by Gretchen Shirm

Josephine Taylor
Tuesday, 20 December 2016

In the midst of preparing for an important London exhibition, photographer Andrew is drawn back to Australia by the sudden disappearance of his former girlfriend, Kirsten ...

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Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Our Magic Hour' by Jennifer Down

Gretchen Shirm
Thursday, 24 March 2016

Jennifer Down's first novel, Our Magic Hour, is notable for its stylistic individuality. The novel's opening is disorientating at first: Audrey wears a shirt whose 'sleeves swallowed her hands'; spaghetti bolognese 'spatters' on a stove; a football match 'bellows' from a television. This is an object-rich terrain, in which the details provide cues to interp ...

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Relativity' by Antonia Hayes

Gretchen Shirm
Wednesday, 30 September 2015

It is not difficult to see why the publisher expects Relativity to find a wide readership; centred on Ethan its eccentric, physics-obsessed young protagonist, this is a touching portrayal of a fractured family.

Claire has always known her son is special, with his talent for numbers and precocious knowledge of astronomical facts. At school, his peers c ...

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'The Break' by Deb Fitzpatrick

Gretchen Shirm
Friday, 31 October 2014

The Break centres on the story of two families. Rosie quits her job as a journalist in Perth and moves, with her boyfriend, to the Margaret River, where they try to escape the monotony of their city existence. Ferg lives on a fruit orchard with his wife, his son, and his widowed mother. With the arrival of Ferg’s estranged brother Mike, relationships are st ...

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Arms Race'

Gretchen Shirm
Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Characters on the verge of a breakthrough populate this impressive début short story collection. An aspiring artist in ‘Making It’ is unsure whether a tilt at greatness is worth the personal sacrifice. In ‘Scar’, a middle-aged geologist feels conflicted by prospective fatherhood and observes, ‘Against that slow patience of stone the need to reproduce had ...