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Anna MacDonald

Anna MacDonald

Anna MacDonald is a Melbourne-based writer and bookseller. She is the author of a collection of essays, Between the Word and the World, and a novel, A Jealous Tide

Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Book of Dirt' by Bram Presser

November 2017, no. 396 25 October 2017
Within the last decade, a new wave of writers has emerged whose work is indebted to W.G. Sebald. Sebald’s name, become an adjective (‘Sebaldian’), is often used as shorthand for describing a writer’s approach to history and memory, or his or her use of images alongside word-text, or the presence of a peripatetic narrator, or the rejection of conventional generic categories such as ‘ficti ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'This Water: Five tales' by Beverley Farmer

June-July 2017, no. 392 26 May 2017
There is a distinct poignancy attached to last things, a sense in which they encapsulate all that has gone before at the same time as they anticipate an end. In the moment of their first manifestation, last things are already haunted by their own absence. This Water: Five tales is the first book by Beverley Farmer to be published since 2005, and has been announced as her last work. This Water inh ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'See What I Have Done' by Sarah Schmidt

May 2017, no. 391 30 April 2017
In this gripping first novel, Sarah Schmidt re-imagines the lives of Lizzie Borden, her family, and the brutal double murder of her father and stepmother, for which Lizzie became notorious. Set in and around the Borden’s house at Fall River, Massachusetts, the narrative has a dense, claustrophobic air that feeds the portrayal of this family as menacingly close. The novel moves backwards and for ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Trapeze Act' by Libby Angel

April 2017, no. 390 30 March 2017
An epigraph from Mary Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected lectures (2012) sets the tone of Libby Angel’s novel, The Trapeze Act ‘what is the moment but a fragment of greater time?’ This book is composed of fragments, which, taken together, capture the desire for a complete understanding of history and the impossibility of satisfying that desire. A well-written and entertaining d ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'Storm and Grace' by Kathryn Heyman

March 2017, no. 389 24 February 2017
Kathryn Heyman’s novel, Storm and Grace, joins the recent proliferation of fiction by Australian women that deals with intimate partner violence. Like Zoë Morrison’s Love and Freedom (2016), it depicts the development of an increasingly troubled and ultimately violent marriage, over the course of which a woman loses her sense of self. Like Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things (2015), ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'The Birdman's Wife' by Melissa Ashley

January–February 2017, no. 388 20 December 2016
The Birdman’s Wife is about passion, obsession, and ambition. Narrated by Elizabeth (Eliza) Gould, the novel relates her marriage to, and creative partnership with, zoologist John Gould. Opening with their meeting at the Zoological Society of London in 1828, Eliza’s narrative charts the years of her collaboration with Gould – including the time spent in the Australian colonies classifying an ... (read more)

Anna MacDonald reviews 'Flâneuse: Women walk the city in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London' by Lauren Elkin

November 2016, no. 386 28 October 2016
As we step out of the house,’ writes Virginia Woolf, in her 1927 essay ‘Street Haunting’, ‘we shed the self our friends know us by and become part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers.’ Into the anonymous crowd Woolf would have us carry that androgynous mind she champions in A Room of One’s Own (1929), a mind that is ‘resonant and porous’, one that is free and ‘wide ... (read more)
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