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Francesca Sasnaitis

Francesca Sasnaitis has returned to Melbourne after seven years in Perth and completing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Western Australia.

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'The Things We Live With: Essays on uncertainty' by Gemma Nisbet

December 2023, no. 460 27 November 2023
The interconnected essays in Gemma Nisbet’s début collection, The Things We Live With, revolve around a premise that is as familiar as Marcel Proust’s madeleines or W.G. Sebald’s images: that things – objects, documents, photographs, even colours – evoke memories of the past. Her essays shift seamlessly from childhood to adult travels, jobs, relationships, and the problems that can lurk ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'The Tour' by Π.O.

November 2023, no. 459 27 October 2023
In 1985, five (or four, depending on the source) Australian poets went on a sixteen-city reading tour of the United States and Canada. Π.O. was one of them. Originally titled ‘The Dirty T-Shirt Tour’, The Tour is ostensibly Π.O.’s diary of that trip, the dirty T-shirt standing for the narrator’s ‘difference’: his migrant, working-class background; his flouting of social conventions; ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Shadowline: The Dunera diaries of Uwe Radok', edited by Jacquie Houlden and Seumas Spark

March 2023, no. 451 26 February 2023
Uwe Radok was born in 1916 in East Prussia to a family of Christian converts who identified as German Protestant. Nevertheless, after the Nazis came to power in Germany, the Radoks were classified as Jews – their five children Mischlinge, of mixed ancestry. In 1938, the family applied to emigrate to Australia. When their visas finally arrived in August 1939, it was too late. This is a familiar ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone' by Benjamin Stevenson

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series (1949–63) was my induction into crime reading. I was smitten with the secret society of children who set out to solve mysteries and right wrongs despite adults’ disbelief and objections. As a teen, I graduated to Agatha Christie and Arthur Upfield (in the 1970s, we were still unaware how offensive his depiction of Detective Inspector Napoleon ‘Bony’ Bona ... (read more)

'The View From Here': A momentous celebration of WA art

ABR Arts 07 December 2021
The opening weekend of The View from Here at the refurbished Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) happened to coincide with the Perth International Jazz Festival. The city was abuzz with crowds enjoying long delayed sunny skies and free open-air jazz concerts. Scaffolding had disappeared from AGWA’s façade just in time. ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'She Is Haunted' by Paige Clark, 'The Kindness of Birds' by Merlinda Bobis, and 'Ferocious Animals' by Luke Johnson

December 2021, no. 438 23 November 2021
She Is Haunted by Paige ClarkAllen & Unwin, $29.99 pb, 264 pp Paige Clark’s She Is Haunted opens with the story ‘Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’, a title that alludes to the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – that inform the rest of her début collection. Clark doesn’t explain why the narrator feels anxious about the survival of her unborn ... (read more)

'2021 Perth International Jazz Festival': A heady weekend of jazz in WA

ABR Arts 11 November 2021
In 1961, Ornette Coleman was scheduled to play in Cincinnati. According to one story, the concert turned into a near-riot after patrons refused to pay, having observed the marquee out front billing the performance as ‘Free Jazz’. Whether apocryphal or not, it goes to the heart of the long-running confusion about jazz terminology. Free jazz, of course, refers to the experimental or avant-garde ... (read more)

'Animal Farm': Van Badham’s adaptation of George Orwell’s novel

ABR Arts 11 October 2021
The birds are twittering and tweeting (all puns intended) on Manor Farm. Industrial scaffolding leads up to a platform that cuts the minimalist set in two. The same metal barriers that are used to corral the crowds waiting for Covid-19 vaccinations criss-cross the floor of the stage. ‘Breaking News’ flashes across the cinema-sized screen that looms over what will soon be renamed ‘Animal Farm ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen: Travels with my grandmother’s ashes' by Krissy Kneen

May 2021, no. 431 27 April 2021
The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen begins like a fable, the story of a poor family that wins the lotto and moves to a remote Queensland location to make fairy-tale characters for a tourist attraction called Dragonhall. There should be a happy ending, but there isn’t. The family’s undisputed matriarch is Lotty Kneen, or Dragica, as she was once known. She says the name means ‘dragon’, but Dr ... (read more)

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'No Document' by Anwen Crawford

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
I have been made by what was done, by what gets done, what I have made, and I can’t redeem one part of this. No Document begins with a description of the opening sequence of Georges Franju’s Le Sang des bêtes (Blood of the Beasts, 1949) in which a horse is led to slaughter – a significant misremembering that Anwen Crawford rectifies later. Franju’s black-and-white documentary actuall ... (read more)
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