Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns is a freelance writer and member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. He is a former ABR Patrons' Fellow, and has published short fiction, poetry, and academic articles.

Shannon Burns reviews 'A History of Masculinity: From patriarchy to gender justice' by Ivan Jablonka, translated by Nathan Bracher

July 2022, no. 444 25 June 2022
Shannon Burns reviews 'A History of Masculinity: From patriarchy to gender justice' by Ivan Jablonka, translated by Nathan Bracher
A History of Masculinity begins with the observation that we live in a global patriarchy that restricts the rights and freedoms of women, and that remedying this situation is a matter of urgent concern. To that end, ‘we need egalitarian men who care more about respect than power’. Ivan Jablonka acknowledges the accusation that men who are active in the feminist movement simply amplify sexist d ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'Young Mungo' by Douglas Stuart

June 2022, no. 443 23 May 2022
Shannon Burns reviews 'Young Mungo' by Douglas Stuart
Like the Booker-winning Shuggie Bain (2020), Douglas Stuart’s second novel is set in the post-Thatcher, post-industrial, working-class Glasgow housing schemes dominated by unemployment and dysfunctional families. Both novels are populated with alcoholic mothers and violent or absent fathers whose neglected children are forever vulnerable to abuse and hardship. Their titular protagonists must fit ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'Scary Monsters' by Michelle de Kretser

October 2021, no. 436 23 September 2021
Shannon Burns reviews 'Scary Monsters' by Michelle de Kretser
To read Michelle de Kretser’s fiction is to sense important details swimming under the surface of our awareness, forming patterns that will come into view by the end of the story, or after contemplating it for a time, or while rereading. There is always enough to satisfy our immediate needs – rich aphorisms, sharp characterisation, satirical wickedness, the play of language, political and hist ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'The Other Half of You' by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

August 2021, no. 434 22 July 2021
Shannon Burns reviews 'The Other Half of You' by Michael Mohammed Ahmad
Bani Adam returns as the narrator–protagonist of Michael Mohammed Ahmad’s The Other Half of You, a sequel to his two previous books. The most recent one, The Lebs (2018), gave us the story of Bani’s teenage years at Punchbowl Boys’ High School: the trials of a Lebanese Muslim boy in a majority Lebanese Muslim community nestled inside the larger, diverse territories of Western Sydney, in po ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'O' by Steven Carroll

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
Shannon Burns reviews 'O' by Steven Carroll
On the back cover of O, we learn that the protagonist of the novel, Dominique, lived through the German occupation of France, participated in the Resistance, relished its ‘clandestine life’, and later wrote an ‘erotic novel about surrender, submission and shame’, which became the real-life international bestseller and French national scandal, Histoire d’O (1954). ‘But what is the story ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'On Getting Off: Sex and philosophy' by Damon Young

January–February 2021, no. 428 17 December 2020
Shannon Burns reviews 'On Getting Off: Sex and philosophy' by Damon Young
On Getting Off is an attempt to think about sex philosophically, through the lens of personal, literary, and artistic experience. Damon Young, a Melbourne philosopher, is keen on reflective sex and legitimises this fetish with a carrot and stick, seducing readers by arguing for its superior pleasures and threatening us by implying that the alternatives are morally dubious or diminishing. He consid ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'Essays One' by Lydia Davis

April 2020, no. 420 20 March 2020
Shannon Burns reviews 'Essays One' by Lydia Davis
Essays One is the first of two volumes of collected non-fiction drawn from all periods of Lydia Davis’s long career. While the second collection will, according to the author, ‘concentrate more single-mindedly on translation and the experience of reading foreign languages’, this volume has an alternating focus on writing and reading practices, translation, commentary, reviews, and personal e ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'Ducks, Newburyport' by Lucy Ellmann

December 2019, no. 417 25 October 2019
Shannon Burns reviews 'Ducks, Newburyport' by Lucy Ellmann
Lucy Ellmann’s ambitious seventh novel stages the workings of a mind as it digests – or fails to digest – life-altering experiences. Ducks, Newburyport is, for the most part, the ruminating inner monologue of a bewildered and frightened woman. It spans a thousand mostly artful pages and is an undeniably impressive accomplishment. However, for readers who relished Ellmann’s brilliant comic ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'The Rapids: Ways of looking at mania' by Sam Twyford-Moore

August 2018, no. 403 26 July 2018
Shannon Burns reviews 'The Rapids: Ways of looking at mania' by Sam Twyford-Moore
In The Rapids: Ways of looking at mania, Sam Twyford-Moore takes a personal, exploratory, and speculative approach to the subject of mania. Because the author has been significantly governed by manic episodes on several occasions (he was diagnosed with manic depression as he ‘came into adulthood’), The Rapids offers an insider’s perspective. It also considers some of the public and cultural ... (read more)

Shannon Burns reviews 'Relatively Famous' by Roger Averill

May 2018, no. 401 26 April 2018
Shannon Burns reviews 'Relatively Famous' by Roger Averill
In Relatively Famous, Roger Averill combines a fictional memoir with extracts from a faux-biography of the memoirist’s Booker Prize-winning father, Gilbert Madigan. The biography amounts to a fairly bloodless summary of the events of Madigan’s life, and his son’s memoir is similarly sedate. This makes for a limp but sensitively conceived novel about paternal failure and the extent to which p ... (read more)
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