Spinifex Press

Paige Clark’s She Is Haunted (Allen & Unwin, $29.99 pb, 264 pp) opens with the story ‘Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’, a title that alludes to the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – that inform the rest of her début collection. Clark doesn’t explain why the narrator feels anxious about the survival of her unborn child and its father. The reader is left to assume that the prospect of too much undeserved happiness impels her to embark on a series of amusing and escalating bargains with a capricious God. That the narrator bears the losses with equanimity is indicative of the deadpan humour with which Clark deflects serious matters.

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Carol Lefevre has shown herself adept at exploring connection and alienation in different genres. In The Happiness Glass (2018), the ambiguous zone between fiction and memoir forms a creative space within which Lefevre plumbs the intricacies of motherhood and loss; home and exile. Murmurations is imbued with similar tropes, the slight heft of the book belying its ethical density and the scope of its narrative ambition.

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Carol Lefevre is the author of two novels and a non-fiction book on Adelaide, all well received and awarded. Yet she is not as well known in her own country as she should be, having spent decades in England. I hope The Happiness Glass will remedy that ...

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In The Dialectic of Sex, published in 1970, the feminist Shulamith Firestone argued that the inequality between the sexes results from the different reproductive functions performed by women and men. In having to go through pregnancy, childbirth, and breast-feeding, women are dependent on men for support. The natural reproductive functions performed by females are not only enslaving women, they are also barbaric in themselves. ‘Pregnancy is barbaric’, Firestone argued, and women should be freed from the ‘tyranny of reproduction by every means possible’. Just as contraception had already been a liberating force for women, so would other new reproductive technologies. Firestone envisaged that ectogenesis – the growth and development of a foetus outside the womb – would be the answer for women, as long as ‘improper control’ was not exercised by men.

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