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James Bradley

James Bradley is a writer and critic. His books include the novels, WrackThe Deep Field, The ResurrectionistClade and Ghost Species; a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus; and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. His first book of non-fiction, Deep Water: The World in the Ocean will be published by Hamish Hamilton in April 2024.

James Bradley reviews ‘Prochownik’s Dream’ by Alex Miller

November 2005, no. 276 01 November 2005
Two-thirds of the way through Alex Miller’s Journey to the Stone Country (2002), its characters come across a house standing in a valley high in the Queensland ranges. The house is empty, abandoned like some landlocked Marie Celeste, but in one room a library remains. Standing before the shelves, one of the characters removes a volume, only to find the pages eaten away to dust, the book, like th ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews ‘The Great Undoing’ by Sharlene Allsopp

March 2024, no. 462 22 February 2024
Over the past two decades, novelists such as Alexis Wright, Kim Scott, and Ellen van Neerven have produced a body of work that not only unflinchingly explores the reality of Indigenous experience, but in many cases revisions the boundaries of the novel altogether, dissolving the strictures of conventional realism to give shape to Indigenous notions of temporality and relationship with Country. Sh ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'The Pages' by Murray Bail

July–August 2008, no. 303 01 July 2008
Murray Bail’s fiction inhabits a curious space. Despite its attention to the detail of the rural landscape, the ‘endless paddocks and creaking tin roofs’, it is not, in any meaningful sense, realist, either in its intention or its execution. Instead, against carefully created backdrops, it weaves something closer to fairy tales, looping meditations on the power of story, and love, whose affi ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'The Lieutenant' by Kate Grenville

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
In 2006, a year after the publication of Kate Grenville’s The Secret River, Inga Clendinnen published ‘The History Question’ as part of Black Inc.’s Quarterly Essay series. ‘The History Question’ was, as its subtitle ‘Who Owns the Past?’ suggests, a wide-ranging meditation on the nature of historical understanding, and, more specifically, its uses and abuses. But at its heart lay a ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews ‘The Gift of Speed’ by Steven Carroll

August 2004, no. 263 01 August 2004
I remember trying a few years ago to communicate to a younger friend something of the way I remember my childhood in Adelaide in the 1970s. It was a world in which an older Australia still lingered, a quiet, suburban world where men caught the tram to work at 8.15a.m. and came home at five, where the banks closed at four p.m., and where World War II veterans and their wives lived around us. In 200 ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Birdscapes: Birds in our imagination and experience' by Jeremy Mynott

September 2009, no. 314 01 September 2009
Jeremy Mynott begins his capacious and disarming new book with a dedication to his wife, the author Dianne Speakman. ‘In all our twenty-five or so years together,’ he writes, ‘I have never yet succeeded in persuading her to take the slightest interest in birds. This is my best and last shot.’ Any ornithophile knows this feeling: the regret that his sense of wonderment remains for the most ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'Miles McGinty' by Tom Gilling

November 2001, no. 236 01 November 2001
Tom Gilling’s first novel, The Sooterkin, was an engaging and self-conscious oddity. Set in early nineteenth-century Tasmania, it had at its centre the striking conceit of the Sooterkin itself, a child born to a former convict and who is, to all intents and purposes, a seal. The Sooterkin was a critical success, inviting comparison to Peter Carey for its Dickensian energy and its playful engagem ... (read more)

James Bradley reviews 'The Candy House' by Jennifer Egan

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
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
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)
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