James Bradley

James Bradley is a writer and critic. His books include the novels, Wrack, The Deep Field, The Resurrectionist, and Clade; a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus; and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. In 2012 he won the Pascall Award for Australia’s Critic of the Year.

James Bradley reviews 'The Candy House' by Jennifer Egan

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
James Bradley reviews 'The Candy House' by Jennifer Egan
Although Jennifer Egan had several novels under her belt by the end of the 2000s, perhaps most notably the slyly metafictional The Keep (2006), her 2010 novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, took the concern with the inner workings of contemporary culture and consciousness that wound its way through those earlier books, and translated it into something startlingly new and resonant. A meditation on t ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Confessing the Blues' by Anson Cameron and 'Saigon Tea' by Graham Reilly

December 2002-January 2003, no. 247 01 December 2002
James Bradley reviews 'Confessing the Blues' by Anson Cameron and 'Saigon Tea' by Graham Reilly
Comedy, Angela Carter once quipped, is tragedy that happens to other people. Laughter is both an expression of our hard-bitten knowledge of the random cruelty of a universe that stubbornly resists our attempts to control it and an act of defiance in the face of that cruelty. Or, to put it in simpler terms, if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry. With his first two novels, Silences Long Gone and Tin T ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Utopia Avenue' by David Mitchell

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
James Bradley reviews 'Utopia Avenue' by David Mitchell
With its cast of freaks and hustlers, damaged souls, and self-proclaimed geniuses, the music world seems custom-made for novelists. Yet while some excellent novels catch more than a whiff of that sweaty, drug-fuelled space where the shared exultance of music becomes something transcendent – Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments (1987), Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad (2010), Dana Spiotta ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'The Rich Man’s House' by Andrew McGahan

September 2019, no. 414 02 September 2019
James Bradley reviews 'The Rich Man’s House' by Andrew McGahan
Andrew McGahan’s final book, The Rich Man’s House, opens with an apology. ‘It’s a finished novel – I wouldn’t be letting it out into the world if it wasn’t – but I can’t deny that my abrupt decline in health has forced the publishers and I to hurry the rewriting and editing process extremely, and that this is not quite the book it would have been had cancer not intervened … for ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'The White Earth' by Andrew McGahan

May 2004, no. 261 01 May 2004
James Bradley reviews 'The White Earth' by Andrew McGahan
‘White’ and ‘earth’ are not words that sit easily together in an Australian context, so much so that placing them thus seems almost deliberately unsettling. Juxtaposed, they only serve to remind us of things that are mostly too hard for us to look at directly, a claim to a possession all know to be ill-founded. ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Preservation' by Jock Serong

December 2018, no. 407 26 November 2018
James Bradley reviews 'Preservation' by Jock Serong
On 15 May 1797 a fishing boat passing Wattamolla, in what is now Sydney’s Royal National Park, spotted three men on the beach. Rescued and returned to Sydney, the trio – tea merchant and supercargo William Clarke, sailor John Bennet, and Clarke’s lascar manservant, Srinivas – told an extraordinary story. After their ship, the Sydney Cove, was wrecked on Preservation Island in Bass Strait, ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Dyschronia' by Jennifer Mills

March 2018, no. 399 22 February 2018
James Bradley reviews 'Dyschronia' by Jennifer Mills
Recent years have seen the literary novel begin to mutate, its boundaries and subject matter evolving in new and sometimes surprising directions as it attempts to accommodate the increasing weirdness of the world we inhabit. In her own, sometimes subterranean way, Jennifer Mills has been one of the architects of this process in Australian writing. Having begun her career with the beautifully cons ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Barkskins' by Annie Proulx

August 2016, no. 383 21 July 2016
James Bradley reviews 'Barkskins' by Annie Proulx
The bleaching event that devastated much of the Great Barrier Reef in recent months made it clear that Earth's ecosystems are in crisis, driven to the brink by rising temperatures, pollution, and habitat loss. While there is a tendency to regard this situation as a product of the past century, the reality is that almost every environment on Earth has been irrevocably altered – or destroyed – b ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Antarctica: That Sweep of Savage Splendour' edited by Alasdair McGregor

September 2011, no. 334 23 August 2011
James Bradley reviews 'Antarctica: That Sweep of Savage Splendour' edited by Alasdair McGregor
On 18 January 1773, less than twenty-four hours after first entering Antarctic waters and concerned by the ice gathering around the Resolution, Commander James Cook surveyed the waters. A few hours later he wrote in his journal: ‘From the mast head I could see nothing to the Southward but Ice, in the Whole extent from East to WSW without the least appearance of any partition.’ ... (read more)
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