Vintage

Elliot Perlman’s fourth novel is tentatively billed as a corporate satire and has a striking opening line: ‘I am absolutely terrified of losing a job I absolutely hate.’ The man in this all-too-familiar predicament is Stephen Maserov, a former English teacher turned lawyer. Maserov is a lowly second year in the Terry Gilliam-esque law firm Freely Savage Carter Blanche, which, apart from sounding like a character in a Tennessee Williams play, is home to loathsome dinosaurs in pinstripe suits and an HR department referred to as ‘The Stasi’.

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In one sense, the publisher’s blurb on this novel says it all.

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If history is a graveyard of dead aristocracies, the novel is their eulogy. It is now, for instance, a critical commonplace to explain the young Proust’s entry into the closed world of France’s nobility as an occurrence made possible by its dissolution. Close to death, holding only vestigial power, the fag ends of the ancien régime lost the will or ...

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Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Dreams of Speaking' by Gail Jones

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Wednesday, 10 July 2019

If you can say immediately what you think a novel is ‘about’, then the chances are that it may not be a very good novel. Fiction as a genre gives writers and readers imaginative room to move, to work on a vertical axis of layers of meaning as well as along the horizontal forward movement of narrative development ...

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How much do you care about sheep? I mean really care about sheep. Because The Ballad of Desmond Kale is up to its woolly neck in them. It’s an unusual and inspired variation on the classic Australian colonial novel of hunters for fortune, for identity and for redemption ...

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Jacinta Mulders reviews The Hollow Bones by Leah Kaminsky

Jacinta Mulders
Monday, 25 March 2019

Leah Kaminsky’s novel The Hollow Bones focuses on Ernst Schäfer, a German who was sent to Tibet by Himmler in the late 1930s, outwardly to collect plant and animal specimens; secretly to ‘search for the origins of the Aryan race’. Himmler’s abhorrent obsessions are not focused on ...

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Michael Williams reviews 'Dead Europe' by Christos Tsiolkas

Michael Williams
Monday, 25 February 2019

So often, the language used to discuss Australian literature is that of anxiety. A.A. Phillips’s ‘cultural cringe’, coined in 1950, is never far from the critical surface as readers and commentators grapple with questions of national and literary identity. The report of the 1995 Miles Franklin Award’s judges offers one such example ...

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2017 Publisher Picks

Madonna Duffy et al
Thursday, 21 December 2017

To complement our 2017 ‘Books of the Year’, we invited several senior publishers to nominate their favourite books – all published by other companies.

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Peter Pierce reviews 'When Colts Ran' by Roger McDonald

Peter Pierce
Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Between the wars, the dominant mode of Australian fiction was the saga: tales of land-taking and nation-building, melodramas within families across generations, characters shaped by loneliness and obsession ...

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Stephen Mansfield reviews 'Crack Hardy' by Stephen Dando-Collins

Stephen Mansfield
Thursday, 21 April 2011

While explorations of Australia at war have never been short on ‘male stories’, the prevalence of the masculine frame may yet increase in coming years as part of the ongoing examination of competing forms of manhood in this country, as evidenced by the upcoming symposium ‘Embattled Men: Masculinity and War’ at the Australian National University. The publicit ...