Pantera Press

Three recent novels by Australian women deal with current and increasingly urgent political questions about female identity and embodiment. They each use the conventions of popular realist fiction to provoke thought about the causes of female disempowerment and the struggle for self-determination. Coincidentally, they are also set, or partially set, in Australian country towns, although their locations are markedly different, and their plots culminate in the revelation of disturbing secrets.

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Is it tautological to describe a work of fiction as ‘family Gothic’? After all, there’s nothing more inherently Gothic than the family politic: a hierarchical structure ruled by a patriarch, as intolerant of transgression as it is fascinated by it, sustaining itself through a clear us/them divide, all the while proclaiming, ‘The blood is the life.’ Yet three new Australian novels Gothicise the family politic by exaggerating, each to the point of melodrama, just how dangerous a family can become when its constituents turn against one another.

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While climbing in British Columbia, Canadian writer and journalist Eva Holland becomes paralysed by fear. She has long been troubled by exposed heights, but this is different. What she experiences is an ‘irrational force’ that prevents her from moving. It is only the dogged encouragement of friends that allows her to make her tentative way back down the mountain.

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The Crossing by B. Michael Radburn

by
May 2011, no. 331

Set in an imminent Tasmanian ghost town, B. Michael Radburn’s first novel departs from his previous work as a horror short story writer. This murder mystery unfolds in the rural town of Glorys Crossing, which is being consumed by a hydropower dam, and which all but the most stubborn townsfolk are leaving to make a life elsewhere. Told through the eyes of ...

It takes a talented writer to imbue history with colour and vivacity. It is all the more impressive when the author creates a compelling narrative. As an example of a burgeoning genre, A Few Right Thinking Men more than matches its historical crime contemporaries in both areas.

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