Gillian Dooley

Carmel Macdonald Grahame's 'Personal Effects'

Gillian Dooley
Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A woman, married but alone, stands at a window in a high-rise apartment in Calgary watching the snow fall. Later she might unpack a carton, go out to eat, go to bed. That is about all that happens in the present time in Grahame’s Personal Effects. The rest is memory. This woman, Lilith, from a coastal town in Western Australia, ruminates on a life story fil ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'In So Many Words'

Gillian Dooley
Sunday, 19 January 2014

I have often thought that a large part of achievement is just fronting up; having an idea and acting on it, however unlikely success might seem. What you need is a resolution (or the disposition) not to be discouraged by failure and to be pleasantly surprised by success. If it doesn’t work, you try something else. You make the most of any opportunity. You sh ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Night Guest'

Gillian Dooley
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The depredations of time on the ageing human is an unusual topic for a young writer to confront, especially in a first novel, but why not, if the negative capability is not wanting? After all, it’s common enough for an older writer to inhabit young characters. The difference is, of course, that a young writer hasn’t yet been old. In Fiona McFarlane’s fir ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Boy, Lost'

Gillian Dooley
Thursday, 27 June 2013

Boy, Lost is a sad and shocking memoir, unique in particulars but not in broad outline. Domestic violence and psychological sadism lie at its heart.

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Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Misogyny Factor'

Gillian Dooley
Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Julia Gillard’s magnificent tirade against Tony Abbott in parliament last year has given Anne Summers her title for The Misogyny Factor, a polemic on the landscape of sexism and disadvantage in Australia based on two of her own recent speeches. Hillary Clinton’s distinction between progress (the signs of how far we have come) and success (enduring c ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Beloved'

Gillian Dooley
Sunday, 26 May 2013

God gave me polio?’ Taken aback by her grandmother’s bland insistence on unquestioning submission to divine will, the six-year-old child in Annah Faulkner’s novel The Beloved has already started questioning the articles of faith and the assumptions of the adults in her world, in that penetrating way some children h ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Honestly: Notes on Life' by Nikki Gemmell

Gillian Dooley
Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The skills involved in writing successful novels are rather different from those needed for a weekly newspaper column. In a column, a thousand words must engage the reader, week in week out, whether or not the writer has anything urgent to say. A short deadline is less forgiving, allowing scant time for polishing and self-editing. On the other hand, stylistic idiosy ...

Gillian Dooley on 'J.M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing'

Gillian Dooley
Monday, 07 January 2013

When I heard that someone was writing Coetzee’s biography, I thought he must be either brave or foolish. After all, Coetzee’s own approach to autobiography is slippery, to say the least. J.C. Kannemeyer was (he died suddenly on Christmas Day 2011) a South African professor of Afrikaans and Dutch, a veteran biographer, and a literary historian. Coetzee co-operate ...

The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer is a novel that manages to be absolutely itself, with a wholly idiosyncratic voice, while at the same time acting as a veritable echo chamber of earlier writers. The first page, with its lofty insistence about what ‘should not surprise the world’ in the behaviour of a young woman with the surname Ward, immediately ...

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Burial' by Courtney Collins

Gillian Dooley
Tuesday, 25 September 2012

 In the cheeky biographical note on the press release for her first novel, The Burial, Courtney Collins expresses a wish that she might one day be ‘a “lady” poet’. If I had read that before reading the novel, I would have been slightly alarmed: with many notable exceptions, poets tend not to make good novelists. It is true that The Burial ...

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