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Owen Richardson

Owen Richardson

Owen Richardson studied philosophy at the University of Melbourne and has been writing about books, film, and theatre since the early 1990s. Besides Australian Book Review, he has been published in The Age, The Sunday Age, The Australian, The Australian Literary Review, Sydney Morning Herald, The Monthly, Scripsi, and Meanjin.

Owen Richardson reviews ‘Inside Out: An autobiography’ by Robert Adamson

April 2004, no. 260 01 April 2004
Aptly, John Ashberry has described Robert Adamson as ‘one of Australia’s national treasures’. Since the late 1960s Adamson has been a vital presence in the renaissance of Australian poetry, both in his own work and as an editor and publisher. The immense command of his writing, its trajectory from the early postmodernist explorations of the poet’s voice and the possibilities of Orphic visi ... (read more)

Owen Richardson reviews ‘The Boy’ by Julian Davies

December 2003–January 2004, no. 257 01 December 2003
The heroine of Julian Davies’s fifth novel, The Boy, which is set in New York in 1956, is a nightclub singer originally from Australia. The boy of the title, almost half her age, is Zimzam Taylor. They are both outsiders. Marian’s life in New York is a kind of exile, in which she is closest to those she has left behind, such as her painter-husband André and her insistent, disapproving aunt Fl ... (read more)

Owen Richardson reviews ‘Vale Byron Bay’ by Wayne Grogan and ‘Tuvalu’ by Andrew O’Connor

September 2006, no. 284 01 September 2006
These two novels are both strong in their sense of locale, and take their settings as part of the subject, linked to pictures of isolation and barely functioning relationships, and with catastrophe not averted. Tuvalu, by Andrew O’Connor, not yet in his thirties, is set in Japan, so the alienation is perhaps part of the given. Noah Tuttle teaches English semi-competently to semi-interested Japa ... (read more)

Owen Richardson reviews 'The Land Where Stories End' by David Foster

May 2001, no. 230 01 May 2001
‘A king had a beautiful daughter,’ begins David Foster’s new book: 204 pages between grey boards, a reproduction of Filippo Lippi’s Madonna con Bambino e due angeli on the covers, the author’s name itself visible only on the acknowledgements page, in rather small writing. A king had a beautiful daughter. She was so beautiful that any man who saw her at once wanted to marry her. Well, ... (read more)

Owen Richardson reviews 'Ludmila's Broken English' by D.B.C. Pierre

May 2006, no. 281 01 May 2006
Vernon God Little (2003) was the striking first novel everyone said it was, and seemed to promise better things to come. D.B.C. Pierre had a preternatural way with language, even if it wasn’t always under his control. You could tolerate the sophomoric and tritely executed satire (America is full of fat, stupid, venal people; America is just a great big television show), as it seemed the flawed t ... (read more)

Owen Richardson reviews 'The Dirty Beat' by Venero Armanno

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
Rock’n’roll romanticism can stand in for many things: the sense of lost authenticity, lost freedom, lost youth, the good old days before music was composed by machines and performed by underwear models and all the pubs were turned into gambling venues. The passion, the music, the soul: Venero Armanno’s new novel is about all that, though one of its main faults is that it is always telling yo ... (read more)

Owen Richardson reviews 'Eugene's Falls' by Amanda Johnson and 'Nights in the Asylum' by Carol Lefevre

May 2007, no. 291 12 September 2022
Here are two novels of exile, one contemporary, the other about coming to Australia in the nineteenth century. In Carol Lefevre’s Nights in the Asylum, Miri, a middle-aged actress, escapes from Sydney and her tottering marriage, and drives back to the mining town of her childhood. On the way, she picks up an escaped Afghan refugee, Aziz, and drops him off in town, where he immediately falls foul ... (read more)

Owen Richardson reviews 'The Bride Stripped Bare' by Anonymous

September 2003, no. 254 01 September 2003
You have to sympathise with Nikki Gemmell. When she described her sense of liberation on deciding to publish The Bride Stripped Bare anonymously, she seemed to have in mind only a desire not to offend people close to her. She would also have liberated herself from the literary celebrity machine. But, once the game was up, she got even more of it than she would otherwise have done. It doesn’t see ... (read more)

Owen Richardson reviews 'Lives' by Peter Robb

June 2012, no. 342 29 May 2012
Peter Robb, in this collection of some of his journalism, quotes E.M. Forster’s remark about Constantine Cavafy: that he lived ‘absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe’. That line is half true of Robb’s subjects in this book. They have a way of existing at an angle to the universe, but they are not at all motionless. The lives in this book have trajectories and velocities t ... (read more)

Owen Richardson reviews 'The Pale King' by David Foster Wallace

July–August 2011, no. 333 29 June 2011
In David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, set half at a tennis academy and half at a rehab centre, one of the characters says that junior athletics is about sacrificing the ‘hot narrow imperatives of the Self’ to ‘the larger imperatives of the team (OK, the State) and a set of delimiting rules (OK, the Law)’. Meanwhile, the rehab inmates are learning, with the help of the twelve-step prog ... (read more)