Chris Flynn reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2010' edited by Cate Kennedy and 'New Australian Stories 2' edited by Aviva Tuffield
Amore appropriate moniker for this year’s Black Inc. collection might be ‘Bleak Australian Stories 2010’. Either the editor’s taste runs to the morose or Australian writers need to venture outside and enjoy the sunshine a little more...... (read more)
Alex Lewis reviews 'I Can See My House From Here: UTS Writers’ Anthology 2010' edited by Alice Grundy et al.
The great Russian short story writer Ivan Bunin said that in the process of becoming a writer, ‘one learns not to invent, but to see clearly...... (read more)
While the stories in The Kid on the Karaoke Stage vary thematically, they are predominantly realist in style, with plenty of seemingly serendipitous through-lines. Georgia Richter, who has edited the collection superbly, says that she was interested in ‘the way we turn to writing to crystallise moments of realisation’. The authors all have links to West ...
Benjamin Chandler reviews 'Yellowcake' by Margo Lanagan and 'The Wilful Eye' edited by Isobelle Carmody and Nan McNab
The ten tales in Margo Lanagan’s Yellowcake offer an eclectic glimpse behind the slender veil separating the everyday from the fantastic. The collection is peopled by monstrous gods and godly monsters, by scavengers, drifters, and fascinators. Its landscape incorporates hellish war zones, apocalyptic streetscapes, and haunting carnivals. There is hope and ...
The final offering in Patrick Holland’s first collection of short stories is also its best.... (read more)
David Malouf’s The Complete Stories brings together the three and a bit books, spanning twenty-five years, that constitute his forays into shorter fiction: Antipodes (1985), Dream Stuff (2000), and Every Move You Make (2006), along with two stories that accompanied his novella Child’s Play (1982). Given that this is a collection rather than a selection – no stories are cut from the earlier books – the quality ebbs and flows, both from story to story and from book to book. Despite its slight imperfections, The Complete Stories confirms that Malouf is, at his best, a masterful exponent of short fiction.... (read more)
What can we make of the fact that, of the forty-seven stories selected by Robert Drewe for this year’s The Best Australian Stories collection, thirty-three are written in the first person? The influence of Creative Writing classes has to figure in any stab at an answer. It would be interesting to do the rounds of the universities to discover whether the teachers of such courses actively encourage the use of ‘I’, or if it happens obliquely, resulting from the way that writing exercises are structured. One wonders, too, if that old saw, ‘write what you know’, is discussed in the first week of these courses, and if such a practice contributes to the writer’s feeling more comfortable and secure when deploying the first person.... (read more)
The Stranger Inside is billed on its own front cover as ‘an erotic adventure’. The title would be considerably more innocuous if the book didn’t announce itself as erotica, but once it does, the phrase ‘the stranger inside’ suddenly becomes suggestive in the extreme. It’s a good title, partly because grammar renders it fruitfully ambiguous: apart from the obvious implication, it could also mean ‘the inner alien’ (a fragment of psychobabble, as in ‘the inner child’), or perhaps ‘the more peculiar interior’ (as in ‘my inside is stranger than yours’). Whichever way you read it inside the body, inside the book, inside the soul the phrase suggests that eroticism depends on a combination of interiority and mystery.... (read more)
These twenty-one stories have a pedigree; according to the customary list of acknowledgments, they have had a previous life littered across no fewer than twenty-six books, magazines, and journals, some of whose names are unfamiliar even to my local newsagent. I’m not sure these days if places of publication should properly be called ‘sites’, ‘topoi’, or ‘venues’. Such is the prevalence of dope in this book, however, that perhaps they could be called ‘joints’. But This Is For You is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.... (read more)
Alan Wearne reviews 'The Elephant Vanishes' by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum and Jay Rubin
Every adventurous reader of fiction ought to have a private hoard of novelists, preferably from a non-English writing background, who have escaped the appalling nonsense of Booker-style PR hype. Luckily, publishers like Collins Harvill set about promoting such writers; unluckily for Australia, though, our major literary pages often neglect to review the bulk of such output. You will have your favourites in such a category, but let this reviewer recommend the following: Jose Donoso, Etienne Leroux, Jose Saramago, Eduardo Mendoza, Saiichi Maruya, and Haruki Murakami.... (read more)