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Alex Cothren

Alex Cothren is an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing at Flinders University. He is a winner of the Carmel Bird, William van Dyke, and Peter Carey Awards for short fiction, and he has writing published in Meanjin, Island, The Griffith Review, Ruminate, and Australian Book Review. He is the co-editor of Westerly’s South Australia Special Issue.

Alex Cothren reviews 'Simpson Returns: A novella' by Wayne Macauley

May 2019, no. 411 21 April 2019
Care and compassion, a fair go, freedom, honesty, trustworthiness, respect, and tolerance. These were the nine ‘Australian values’ that former Liberal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson demanded be taught in schools, especially Islamic schools, across the nation in 2005. How? Partly through the tale of John Simpson and his donkey, Murphy. They clambered selflessly up and down Gallipoli’s Shrap ... (read more)

Alex Cothren reviews 'The Windy Season' by Sam Carmody

November 2016, no. 386 28 October 2016
Boat, pub, boat, pub, boat, pub: in the fictitious Western Australian fishing town of Stark, residents divide their days between these two brutally masculine locales, and readers will be hard-pressed to decide which is bleaker. Is it the crayfish boat, with its ‘pong of bait’ and ‘hostile company of the breeze’, or the rural tavern, where ‘the trebly call of dog racing’ soundtracks the ... (read more)

Alex Cothren reviews 'We Ate The Road Like Vultures' by Lynette Lounsbury

May 2016, no. 381 26 April 2016
Jack Kerouac spent his elderly years sequestered in a crumbling Mexican hacienda that 'smelt like beer and farts'; his amphetamines replaced with antacids, his octogenarian skin 'the colour and texture of beef jerky'. Never mind that Kerouac actually drank himself to an early death in Florida, because somehow this alternate universe, the starting point of Lynnette Lounsbury's second novel, We Ate ... (read more)

Alex Cothren reviews 'Sing Fox to Me' by Sarah Kanake

April 2016, no. 380 30 March 2016
Not a year passes without someone claiming to have stumbled upon the legendary Tasmanian tiger. A flash of stripes, a tawny blur, strange paw prints in the mud; are these genuine sightings or mass hallucinations suffered by a populace whose grief for the extinct icon is stuck in a state of collective denial? 'Tassie loves the tiger now ... this entire country is going to be saying sorry forever'; ... (read more)

Alex Cothren reviews 'The Italians at Cleat's Corner Store' by Jo Riccioni

April 2014, no. 360 27 March 2014
During World War II, billeted Axis POWs were deemed such a threat to the morals of British women that theBritish government enacted legislation proscribing amorous fraternisation. Although these laws were rescinded in the conflict’s aftermath, Jo Riccioni’s début novel demonstrates that the appeal of the foreigner endured, as a family of Italians arrive to disrupt the postwar calm of Leyton, ... (read more)

Alex Cothren reviews 'An Elegant Young Man' by Luke Carman

February 2014, no. 358 19 January 2014
Late in his first collection of anecdotal short stories, Luke Carman’s narrator, also named Luke Carman, realises that the magic in a book he loves, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, cannot be replicated in his own life. He is stuck in Australia, and ‘Australia is not the place for ecstatic truth.’ Stuck, to be precise, in Sydney’s western suburbs, depicted as an uncultured wasteland of ‘hig ... (read more)
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