In Brief

Anna MacDonald reviews 'Her' by Garry Disher

Anna MacDonald
Friday, 22 December 2017

In this dark historical novel, Garry Disher imagines a world in which small girls are sold by their desperate families and enslaved to men such as the brutal ‘scrap man’ – ‘a schemer, a plotter, a trickster’ in whom ‘nothing ... rang true except rage and self-pity’ and who profits from the labour of womenfolk known as Wife, Big Girl ...

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Lisa Bennett reviews 'The Art of Navigation' by Rose Michael

Lisa Bennett
Thursday, 21 December 2017

Conceptually, The Art of Navigation is as intriguing as it is ambitious. The narrative is part near-future time travel, part historical drama, part nostalgic Australian Gothic – and all slipstream fiction. The novel braids, unbraids, and rebraids three main threads of time and place: suburban Melbourne in 1987; the royal courts ...

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Dancing Home' by Paul Collis

Jay Daniel Thompson
Friday, 24 November 2017

Dancing Home opens in forthright fashion. The author, Paul Collis, urges readers to ‘[t]ake sides. Be involved in the ideas I’ve written into this book.’ The novel offers an uncompromising examination of some of the injustices faced by Indigenous Australians. The plot focuses on three men – Blackie, Rips, and Carlos – who have embarked on a ...

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Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Pacific Room' by Michael Fitzgerald

Gillian Dooley
Friday, 24 November 2017

Simile haunts The Pacific Room. So many sentences begin ‘It’s as if ...’ that the phrase seems like an incantation. Michael Fitzgerald writes that he agrees with Robert Louis Stevenson that ‘every book is, in an intimate sense, a circular letter to the friends of him who writes it. They alone take his meaning.’ For the reviewer coming from outside the circle, this ...

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Anna MacDonald reviews 'Half Wild' by Pip Smith

Anna MacDonald
Friday, 24 November 2017

In this inventive début novel, Pip Smith recounts the multiple lives of Eugenia Falleni, the ‘man-woman’ who in 1920, as Harry Crawford, was convicted of murdering his first wife, Annie Birkett. Smith employs various types of text–sketches, newspaper articles, witness statements – alongside third-person accounts – to embroider an archive rich in narrative ...

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Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Rubik' by Elizabeth Tan

Cassandra Atherton
Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Invoking the Rubik’s Cube – a puzzle where twenty-six ‘cubelets’ rotate around a core crosspiece – Rubik is less a novel and more a book of interconnected short stories exploring narcissism, neoliberalism, and consumerism. At the book’s core is Elena Rubik, who dies in the first chapter with a Homestyle Country Pie in ...

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With the help of new data such as Google searches, economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz promises to reveal our innermost secrets. ‘Everything is data!’ he writes, ‘And with all this new data, we can finally see through people’s lies.’ Everybody Lies is a techno-evangelist’s search for clean answers amid the tangle of society ...

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Wimmera' by Mark Brandi

Jay Daniel Thompson
Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The tagline of Wimmera is ‘Small town. Big secret’. Mark Brandi’s first novel does indeed feature a secret (and a grim one, at that), but it also offers a disturbing insight into Australian masculinity. The book opens in the country circa 1989. Ben and Fab are primary school students who, both misfits, while away the hours catching ...

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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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Sonia Nair reviews 'The Hope Fault' by Tracy Farr

Sonia Nair
Friday, 25 August 2017

The minutiae and messiness of family life as it comes together and unravels time and time again are delicately rendered in Tracy Farr’s second novel, The Hope Fault. The unrelenting rain that forms the lugubrious backdrop for much of the novel conjures up the same rich, atmospheric setting of the late Georgia Blain’s