In Brief

Johanna Leggatt reviews 'Australia Day' by Melanie Cheng

Johanna Leggatt
Friday, 25 August 2017

The characters in Melanie Cheng’s collection of short stories are all outsiders or misfits in some way. Some feel conspicuously out of place, such as the Lebanese immigrant Maha, in ‘Toy Town’, who is struggling with suburban Australian life, or the Chinese medical student Stanley, who is visiting the family farm of a friend in the titular story. Stanley freez ...

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’ L.P. Hartley’s now proverbial observation at the start of The Go-Between (1953) functions as a statement of fact and a warning. The writer who wishes to traverse the terrain between a nation’s present and its past must navigate a minefield – linguistic, cultural, and historical. Therefore, when you attempt to navigate not only across time but across nations ...

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As Nadine Gordimer once mused, ‘Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you’ve made sense of one small area.’ Sheila Kohler’s site of personal haunting is the murder of her sister Maxine in South Africa more than three decades ago ...

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Jeff Buckley is a man frozen in time, not just by virtue of being elevated into the pantheon of ‘died-too-early-rock-gods’. Before his untimely drowning in 1997, Buckley appeared to exist in a sort of musical and emotional stasis: a young fogey caught among the cultural ruins and vestiges of his estranged father, who died aged twenty-eight from a heroin overdose ...

Crusader Hillis reviews 'Finding Nevo' by Nevo Zisin

Crusader Hillis
Wednesday, 31 May 2017

‘Coming out’ stories remain one of the most potent sources for young people to understand their own relationship to sex, gender, and sexuality. Living in a largely heteronormative society, many young people find a place in these stories to validate and challenge their thoughts and experiences. Nevo Zisin’s memoir, written at the age of twenty, covers these areas but also speaks to those l ...

Piri Eddy reviews 'Closing Down' by Sally Abbott

Piri Eddy
Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Closing Down is about survival and the rituals that allow it; those that keep the fraying edges of life and society together, that stop a relationship disintegrating, that stave off insanity. In her début novel – which won the inaugural Richell Prize for Emerging Writers – Susan Abbott asks: how do you survive when your world is breaking into pieces?

Sara Dowse is a fine observer of politics and power. Her new novel, As the Lonely Fly, traverses three continents over fifty years and contains a multitude of characters, but its focus is honed in on three sisters, of sorts. While Chekhov’s play of that name is typified by waiting, Dowse’s story is of continuous flux and upheaval. Clara-later-Chava, Man ...

For those seeking a concise illustrative history of the Vietnam War, Marcelino Truong’s graphic novel, Such a Lovely Little War, is the ideal place to begin. Those seeking a graphic novel memoir as engaging as Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1986–92) or Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (2001–2), will be unsatisfied.

‘Marco’, as th ...

Beyond the Vapour Trail, a memoir-cum-travel book spanning six continents, concerns the author’s experiences as an aid worker for non-government organisations such as World Vision. Brett Pierce’s work involves researching and setting up community projects, and adapting and remodelling child sponsorship programs. He describes it as ‘sitting down with t ...

In this gripping first novel, Sarah Schmidt re-imagines the lives of Lizzie Borden, her family, and the brutal double murder of her father and stepmother, for which Lizzie became notorious. Set in and around the Borden’s house at Fall River, Massachusetts, the narrative has a dense, claustrophobic air that feeds the portrayal of this family as menacingly close.