Fremantle Press

You can’t help but smile while reading Robert Edeson’s Bad to Worse, his second book featuring Richard Worse, polymath, conversationalist, fighter, and resident of Perth. The mirth may have something to do with the Dickensian names Edeson uses throughout – not just Worse, but an aeronautics engineer called Walter Reckles, the Norwegian–British logician ...

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The need for this book is self-evident in a way that a similarly historical anthology for New South Wales or Victorian poetry would not be. From many perspectives, Perth is one of the most remote cities in the world and there is no doubt that the state’s uniqueness is captured in this extensive, though tightly edited, selection. Despite its comparable treatment of ...

Reading these three books in April, it was impossible not to see in them flashes of what Ross McMullin has described in war artist Will Dyson's drawings from World War I ...

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Contemporary Australian poetry has a complex and ever-evolving relationship with the land, both at home and abroad. Almost twenty-five years post-Mabo and entrenched in ongoing ecological crises, Australian poets explore new ways of experiencing and defining place. Where misguided nationalism sought to limit Australian poe ...

Sack by John Kinsella

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March 2015, no. 369

The eponymous poem in John Kinsella’s latest book recounts a group of teenagers witnessing a sack being flung from a speeding car. The sack, they discover, is filled with tortured kittens. This shocking poem of human cruelty begins a collection concerned with Kinsella’s great themes: the degradation of the environment, human violence (particularly towards animals), and the potential for language – especially poetry – to represent, and intervene in, those things. Despite the extraordinary variety and output of Kinsella’s career so far, his works (poetry, novels, translations, plays, short stories, autobiographies, works of criticism) share a single, ambitious project: to imagine a relationship between political action and literary speech.

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The Break by Deb Fitzpatrick

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November 2014, no. 366

The Break centres on the story of two families. Rosie quits her job as a journalist in Perth and moves, with her boyfriend, to the Margaret River, where they try to escape the monotony of their city existence. Ferg lives on a fruit orchard with his wife, his son, and his widowed mother. With the arrival of Ferg’s estranged brother Mike, relationships are straining. The characters in The Break struggle to balance the reality of living responsible, productive existences with finding fulfilment in their lives.

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Peter Docker knits us into a ‘pea-soup fog’ of Western Australian heat, blanketing us, until we feel it ‘seeping right into the bones’. In the familiar-sounding Baalboorlie, the sun beats down,scorching the airless metal cell of a prisoner transportation vehicle. It cooks the Old Man’s flesh as he is escorted across a vast stretch of his desert country. The floor of the mobile oven sears his bare stomach, the branding ‘raised up and angry red and orange, in the shape of the rising sun badge of the ADF’. His grandmother was right, ‘White men will steal you in the night, then cook and eat you’.

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How I Became the Mr Big of People Smuggling is sold as a crime novel, but this is a crude categorisation for an unusual book. Mr Big is more like a fictional memoir; the story of Nick Smart, a high-school graduate who signs up to work as a jackaroo at the remote Palmenter Station, but quickly discovers that it is a front for a people-smuggling outfit. He then kills the station’s murderous namesake and takes over the operation.

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Fremantle is rapidly becoming a preferred setting for novelists seeking to explore the hidden costs of the mining boom. Within weeks of the publication of Tim Winton’s Eyrie, which is haunted by the crime and gritty emptiness of the city’s rough side, we now have Getting Warmer, Alan Carter’s second novel and the sequel to Prime Cut (2011).

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In To the Highlands, the second instalment in a trilogy entitled ‘One Boy’s Journey to Man’, Jon Doust provides a gripping examination of racism and male sexuality in 1960s Australia.

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