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Denise O'Dea

Denise O'Dea

Denise O’Dea works as a book editor and lives in Melbourne.

Denise O’Dea reviews ‘The Spruiker’s Tale’ by Catherine Rey (translated by Andrew Riemer)

February 2006, no. 278 01 February 2006
Here is a rich vein of strange rococo fantasy in recent Australian fiction. Tom Gilling (The Sooterkin, 1999), Andrew Lindsay (The Breadmaker’s Carnival, 1998, and The Slapping Man, 2003) and Gregory Day (The Patron Saint of Eels, 2005) have all imagined tragicomic country towns in which miracles and monsters infiltrate the sleepy lives of unsuspecting villagers. The genre can be a trap for inat ... (read more)

Denise O’Dea reviews ‘The Apricot Colonel’ by Marion Halligan

March 2006, no. 279 01 March 2006
The heroine of Marion Halligan’s latest novel has little time for reviewers. More often than not, she complains, they are ‘patronising ignorant nobodies’ who wouldn’t know a book from a biscuit. I will not hazard a biscuit metaphor, but I will venture a complaint. The Apricot Colonel is as elegantly written as any of Halligan’s novels. It provides the linguistic curios, surprising digres ... (read more)

Denise O’Dea reviews ‘Border Street’ by Suzanne Leal

September 2006, no. 284 01 September 2006
Halfway through Border Street, an ageing Holocaust survivor describes a night spent standing in the snow at Dachau. His companion, a young Australian woman desperate to understand what he has been through, tries to simulate his ordeal: she wades waist-deep into the winter surf and is shocked by the terrible cold. It is a futile, melodramatic gesture, but a touching one as well; here and throughout ... (read more)

Denise O'Dea reviews 'Ghost Child' by Caroline Overington

December 2009–January 2010, no. 317 01 December 2009
‘You can say a lot more in fiction than you can say in the paper,’ Caroline Overington, journalist and author of two non-fiction books, has remarked of her decision to write a novel. In Ghost Child, she uses this extra scope to consider difficult questions often overlooked in the fast-moving news cycle. In 1982, police are called to a housing estate in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. A five-year ... (read more)

Denise O’Dea reviews 'The End Of The World' by Paddy O’Reilly

May 2007, no. 291 01 May 2007
In 2005, Lisa Gorton, writing in ABR, named Paddy O’Reilly’s The Factory one of the best books of the year. It was O’Reilly’s first novel, but she was already well established as a prize-winning writer of short stories. The End of the World is a collection of those stories, and should secure her reputation as one of our most interesting, if not best-known, literary talents. The book begin ... (read more)

Denise O’Dea reviews 'Stepping Out: A novel' by Catherine Ray, translated by Julie Rose

February 2009, no. 308 01 February 2009
Faced with the publication of her first novel, the narrator of Stepping Out has a terrifying thought. ‘I was about to be unmasked,’ she realises. ‘End of my double life. Everyone was about to dip into my world and find out what was really cooking there ... I felt like I’d placed a bomb and was waiting, under cover, for it to explode.’ In this unabashedly autobiographical novel, Catherin ... (read more)

Denise O'Dea reviews 'The Secret Lives of Men' by Georgia Blain

April 2013, no. 350 26 March 2013
In one of Georgia Blain’s subtle, beautifully paced stories, a young girl is given an IQ test. Believing it to be a game, she is outraged when her older brother crows about his results and she realises she has been evaluated. Later, as an adult, she can put her childhood indignation into words: ‘I thought it was just a matter of random chance. I should have been told that there was a predeterm ... (read more)