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Patrick Allington

Patrick Allington

Patrick Allington was the recipient of the inaugural ABR Patrons’ Fellowship, worth $5000. His novel, Figurehead (Black Inc. 2009), was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. His short fiction and book criticism appears in Australian newspapers, magazines, and journals, including regularly in ABR.

Patrick Allington reviews 'Hope Farm' by Peggy Frew

January-February 2016, no. 378 18 December 2015
'I try to imagine going back': so begins a story about a woman remembering her childhood even when it seems she would just as soon forget it. Hope Farm is Melbourne writer and musician Peggy Frew's second novel. Her terrific début, House of Sticks (2011), was about, among other things, contemporary parenthood and the rhythm of conventional and unconventional lives. Hope Farm explores similar them ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'That Deadman Dance' by Kim Scott

October 2010, no. 325 01 October 2010
Kim Scott noted in 2001 that the biographical notes accompanying his first two novels (True Country, 1993, and Benang: From the Heart, 1999) changed from ‘Kim Scott ... of Aboriginal and British ancestry’ to ‘Kim Scott ... one among those who call themselves Noongar’. Scott probed his self-identification to make a more confronting point: ‘There’s a shift in a sense of self. It indicate ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'That Deadman Dance' by Kim Scott

Reading Australia 27 May 2015
The shortlist for the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award, which included Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, was controversial because it consisted of only three novels, all written by men. The exclusion of women writers for that year itself was noteworthy: for example, Fiona McGregor’s fine novel of Sydney, Indelible Ink (Scribe), did not even appear on the longlist. The 2011 shortlist served als ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'The Writing Life' by David Malouf

March 2015, no. 369 01 March 2015
In appraising the poet Peter Porter, David Malouf writes that ‘the world we inhabit is a vast museum – call it History, or Art, or the History of Art. For Porter, the exhibits were still alive and active.’ So it is with Malouf himself: his world includes Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the awful and bloody twentieth century, a Brisbane childhood, and much more – including an abiding inte ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'Amnesia' by Peter Carey

October 2014, no. 365 01 October 2014
Peter Carey’s new novel, Amnesia, is an odd-shaped – but not misshaped – tale about power and, more particularly, resistance to power. When the veteran leftist journalist Felix Moore writes the story of Gaby Baillieux, a young Australian cyber-activist, he finds himself, like Gaby, a fugitive. As if by magic, Gaby has unlocked Australian and US prison doors; it is Felix’s job, when he’s ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'The Letters of William Gaddis', edited by Steven Moore

November 2013, no. 356 31 October 2013
‘I do get truculent sometimes. As you know.’ So wrote the American novelist William Gaddis (1922–98) to his mother in 1950, before anybody, except perhaps Gaddis himself, suspected him of greatness. The Letters of William Gaddis, edited by prominent Gaddis scholar Steven Moore, might easily have been called Truculent Sometimes. A big book, as befits Gaddis, it contains plenty of his exquisit ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'The Double (and Other Stories)' by Maria Takolander

September 2013, no. 354 26 August 2013
An old woman, caught between the present and her troubled past in another hemisphere, picks herself out of a puddle of water: ‘Her head is tender, and the left side of her body still feels strange: as if she has lost half of herself. Nevertheless, she understands things again.’ The characters in Maria Takolander’s collection of short stories, The Double, often seem as if they have mislaid pa ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'The Railwayman’s Wife' by Ashley Hay

May 2013, no. 351 26 April 2013
As a woman and her daughter prepare to attend a memorial service for their husband and father, a railwayman, the girl offers the woman her kaleidoscope: ‘You could borrow this, Mum [...] You said it was good for seeing things differently.’ It is a resonant moment, the promise of a magical but fleeting distortion of reality both lovely and desperately sad. The scene also encapsulates The R ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'Konkretion' by Marion May Campbell

April 2013, no. 350 25 March 2013
Whereas many twenty-first-century novels seem way too long, konkretion is a distilled, complex gem. It is a novella full of questions and questing, most of which riff from this observation made in the context of Germany’s militant Red Army Faction: ‘what triggers the conversion from resistance to terror, flick-knife or otherwise, the jump into illegality? – oh the primacy of praxis, that rom ... (read more)

Patrick Allington on 'Great Western Highway: A Love Story' by Anthony Macris

February 2013, no. 348 30 January 2013
As I read the early pages of Anthony Macris’s Great Western Highway, I began to wonder if the whole novel might consist of a single central character walking along a city road (for the record, it doesn’t). I couldn’t decide whether I found such a prospect exciting or deflating. As I continued reading, and as Great Western Highway took flight from Parramatta Road, Sydney, to explore such weig ... (read more)
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