Suzanne Falkiner

In the swampy heat of a Brisbane summer in 1986, a young bookshop assistant tries to solve a fifty-year-old mystery involving Inga Karlson, a legendary New York author who died in a warehouse fire in 1939. Caddie Walker, the bookseller, is idealistic enough to believe that books can change people’s lives ...

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A short way into this intriguing novel, author Ruby J. Murray cites Virginia Woolf on the subject of biography. According to Murray’s protagonist, Woolf called it ‘a plodding art’: ‘Every life, she wrote, should open with a list of facts … a stately parade of the real. Births, deaths and marriages ...

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Gwen by Goldie Goldbloom

March 2017, no. 389

Goldie Goldbloom has an eye for the dramatic and the morbid. Her novel about the real-life love affair, beginning in 1904, between artists Gwen John and Auguste Rodin, thirty-six years her senior, begins with a list of seventeen women – including Camille Claudel, Isadora Duncan, and Lady Victoria Sackville-West – whom Rodin allegedly bedded. One, we learn, was h ...

Poet and novelist Mark O'Flynn lives in the same street in the Blue Mountains in which Eve Langley's derelict shack still stands. Perhaps her ghost drifts along the well-worn ...

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On 7 September 1922, seventeen-year-old Richard Lane left England on a six-week voyage to Australia, not to set foot in his home country again for three and a half years. For much of the intervening time he would work as a government-funded 'Barwell Boy', or indentured farm labourer, on small rural holdings outside Adelaide and in western New South Wales.

Ri ...

The port of Old Harwich can be approached by a streamlined highway through a barren industrial landscape, or via the high street through suburban Dovercourt. Either way, you keep going until you reach the sea: 'and if you get your feet wet, you've gone too far', they'll say when you ask directions. Finally, you reach an enclave of narrow streets lined by small cotta ...

This is a stylish book, and is rich with illustration which includes material quoted from the work of a whole range of writers as well as colour photographs that call up an immediate sense of place. It is a unique way to an understanding of Australia’s capital cities – historically, geographically, and culturally, and at the same time to an acquaintance with writers whose work is offered in the context of these cities. The material is essentially descriptive. Eclectic in content and often benign, it offers an alternative approach to our history in terms of landscape and literature. It would make an appropriate gift for readers who are curious about Australian literature/landscape and whose present knowledge is limited. It would also be a useful inclusion in familiarisation packages for diplomatic and political representatives from overseas countries.

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Suzanne Falkiner’s Wilderness is a garden of delights. This is one of the most imaginative, innovative, and useful books on Australian literary culture to emerge for some time. The book represents the first volume of a two-part series entitled The Writers’ Landscape, and Wilderness traces the influence of Australian landscape on Australian writers.

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This was an extraordinary task you set yourself. How did you decide to do it in the first place?

I was actually asked to do it. Lesley Mackay, who has a bookshop in Double Bay that I go to, was doing a bit of publishing and packaging, and it suddenly occurred to her that while there was a Writer’s France and a Writer’s Britain there hadn’t been a Writer’s Australia, so she came to me with the idea. She thought she could package the idea to a publisher and would I write it? I thought, what a wonderful idea and signed the contract, and then realised that what I was going to do was write an entire literary history of Australia, and every chapter could have been a book on its own, and probably should have been.

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