Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Demi-Gods' by Eliza Robertson

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Demi-Gods' by Eliza Robertson


by Eliza Robertson

Bloomsbury, $24.99 pb, 240 pp, 9781408895597

In the preface to Demi-Gods, a boy burns moths with a magnifying glass. A girl – the novel’s narrator, Willa – watches ‘khaki wings’ that seem to be ‘folded from rice paper’. She imagines ‘ten moths circling a candle to form a lantern’, cries later, but does not stop Patrick. The wings ignite ‘like dog-eared pages in a book’.

Like dog-eared pages, Willa’s memories are folded for revisiting. Memory, she thinks, returning to a handful of charged encounters with Patrick over many years, is a dwelling place both in the sense of a residence and ‘a lingering’. Lingering disrupts time. It holds and expands some moments, eclipsing others. In narrative terms, the novel’s vivid pieces enact the push-pull of magnification and erasure, set against the backdrop of a child’s developing awareness amidst neglectful and self-absorbed adults.

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Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett is a poet and critic. She has a PhD from the University of Sydney. Her first collection of poetry Vanishing Point won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize and was shortlisted for several other awards. Felicity’s chapbook Seastrands was published in Vagabond Press’s Rare Objects series in 2011, and she is the editor of Thirty Australian Poets (UQP, 2011). She is Poetry Editor with University of Queensland Press and a widely published reviewer.

Published in December 2017, no. 397