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Kate Scott

Fed to Red Birds by Rijn Collins & How to Be Remembered by Michael Thompson

May 2023, no. 453

On the surface, there is little connection between these three début novels. Rijn Collins’s Fed to Red Birds (Simon & Schuster, $32.99 pb, 247 pp) sketches an intimate portrait of migration, beautifully illustrating the migrant’s immersion within and isolation from their adopted land. Elva, a young Australian woman, hopes to remain in Iceland, her absent mother’s home country, despite the unique challenges it presents her. Michael Thompson’s How to be Remembered (Allen & Unwin, $32.99 pb, 344 pp) poses an intriguing metaphysical question: what happens if, each year on his birthday, every trace of one boy’s existence is erased? How can a person survive when nobody, not even his parents, knows who he is? Tommy Llewellyn is determined to find the answer and outfox this universal reset. Kate Scott’s Compulsion (Hamish Hamilton, $32.99 pb, 279 pp) revels in music, drugs, food, fashion, and hedonism. Lucy Lux attempts to uncomplicate her chaotic partying lifestyle by escaping to a remote seaside town she remembers from her childhood, where her passions and problems blaze anew. Despite their many differences, these are all essentially stories of self-discovery, coming of age, and obsession.

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At the closing performance of the Borovansky Ballet in 1961, Peggy van Praagh stepped onstage and spoke about the importance of founding an Australian ballet company. Harold Holt, the serving federal treasurer, went backstage to pledge his personal support. Van Praagh’s celebrated history as a dancer and director overseas made her the perfect candidate to run such a company.

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