Zach Jones’s début novel, Growing Up in Flames (Text Publishing, $19.99 pb, 288 pp), unfolds after a tragic bushfire, while an approaching bushfire stalks Carly Nugent’s protagonist Persephone in Sugar (Text Publishing, $19.99 pb, 368 pp). The only noticeable flames in Allayne Webster’s That Thing I Did (Wakefield Press, $24.95 pb, 336 pp) belong to a foul-mouthed granny named Daisy, who uses them to light her cigarettes, but Webster’s novel about an unlikely group of strangers on a madcap South Australian road trip is as poignant as it is funny.
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In the wake of other recent compelling débuts – Paige Clark’s meticulously crafted and imagined She is Haunted being a standout – three new short story collections, varying markedly in tone, style, and setting, offer bold and unsettling visions of twenty-first-century life.... (read more)
In the Room with the She Wolf by Jelena Dinić & Beneath the Tree Line by Jane Gibian
Precise observation is considered a prerequisite for poetry, but there are limits as to what a surfeit of detail can bring to a poem, or even to an entire volume. Three new poetry collections, each different in tone and subject matter, deploy close observation to varying degrees of success across poems that scrutinise domestic tension, interspecies dynamics, landscape, and everyday grace.... (read more)
More Than Mere Words edited by Paul Monaghan and Michael Walsh & Ethnographer and Contrarian edited by Julie D. Finlayson and Frances Morphy
Out of Copley Street: A working-class boyhood by Geoff Goodfellow
Mount Parnassus remains a proscribed destination for the moment, but Aidan Coleman’s Mount Sumptuous (Wakefield Press, $22.95 pb, 56 pp) provides an attractive local alternative. Following on from the poems of love and recovery in Asymmetry (2012), this collection marks the poet’s reawakened appetite for the sublimities and subterfuges of suburban Australia, from cricket pitches ‘lit like billiard tables’ and Blue Light Discos to the flammable wares of Best & Less and the implacable red brick of ‘all-meat / towns’. As these poems and their pseudo-pedagogical endnotes show, Coleman is a keen philologist of the language of commerce. The title’s ‘sumptuous’ (from the Latin sumptus for ‘expense’) keys us in to the vital ambivalence of a poetry, which on the one hand honours the rituals of everyday consumption (‘lounging / book in hand, Tim Tams / … tea a given’), and on the other speaks to the exploitative logic of consumer capitalism (‘Take the juiceless fruits / of day labour and a white / goods salesman’s leaden chicanery’).... (read more)