Alice Nelson

Pandemic reading: Books that solace or distract

Tim Flannery et al.
Monday, 27 April 2020

ABR asked a few colleagues and contributors to nominate some books that have beguiled them – might even speak to others – at this unusual time.

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Alice Nelson reviews 'Desire Lines' by Felicity Volk

Alice Nelson
Friday, 20 March 2020

The poet Anne Michaels once wrote that when love finds us, our pasts suddenly become obsolete science. All the secret places left fallow by loneliness are flooded with light and the immanence of the longed-for one draws us into the clearing, stains us with radiance. Yeats’s wing-footed wanderer arrives at last and the miraculous restorations of love and the imperatives of desire render our separate pasts ‘old maps, disproved theories, a diorama’.

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Alice Nelson reviews 'Actress' by Anne Enright

Alice Nelson
Friday, 21 February 2020

Anne Enright has never been able to resist the tidal pull of mothers; her novels are animated by complex, ambivalent maternal presences, women rendered on the page with duelling measures of hatred and hunger, empathy and censure. There is the mercurial tyrant Rosaleen Madigan of The Green Road (2015), ‘a woman who did nothing and expected everything’. There is the hapless, hazy Maureen Hegarty of the Booker Prize-winning The Gathering (2007), erased by her endless pregnancies and too many children; ‘a piece of benign human meat, sitting in a room’.

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Alice Nelson reviews 'Act of Grace' by Anna Krien

Alice Nelson
Wednesday, 25 September 2019

A young Aboriginal girl wears an abaya because she wants to see how it feels to inhabit someone else’s experience, someone else’s history. An exiled Iraqi musician plays a piano in a shopping centre in suburban Melbourne. Native Americans protesting the construction of a pipeline on their traditional lands are shot at with water cannons and rubber bullets. Count ...

What does it mean to live in a place but never to fully belong to it? How does our capacity for intimacy alter when we are in exile? How do we forge an identity among haphazard collisions of cultures and histories? These are the questions that Melanie Cheng ...

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Alice Nelson reviews 'Cedar Valley' by Holly Throsby

Alice Nelson
Tuesday, 18 December 2018

In the first few pages of Cedar Valley, a group of women gather together to console one another after a calamitous event shatters the predictable languor of their small rural town. Pulling chairs into a circle, they pour glasses of brandy in the soft light of early evening and reflect on the day’s events ...

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Alice Nelson reviews 'Matryoshka' by Katherine Johnson

Alice Nelson
Thursday, 25 October 2018

Half a century ago, the Palestinian writer Edward Said described the state of exile as ‘the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home’. Its essential sadness, he believed, was not surmountable. The crippling sorrows of exile and estrangement ...

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Sarah Holland-Batt reviews 'The Children’s House' by Alice Nelson

Sarah Holland-Batt
Tuesday, 25 September 2018

What are the limits of maternal love? How do children fare in its absence? Is mothering a socialised behaviour or a biological impulse? These are the questions Alice Nelson pursues in her second novel, The Children’s House, which draws its title from the name given to the separate quarters ...

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