Debra Adelaide

Debra Adelaide

Debra Adelaide has published eighteen books, including novels, short fiction, and essays, the most recent of which is The Innocent Reader (2019). Until 2020 she was an associate professor in the creative writing program at the University of Technology Sydney.

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Dinner with the Schnabels' by Toni Jordan, 'The Competition' by Katherine Collette, and 'Love and Other Puzzles' by Kimberley Allsopp

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
Doubtless there will come a time when one’s more disciplined reading self requires nourishment from serious books that offer sustained intellectual, creative, and moral challenges. In the meantime, books – in particular the contemporary urban novel – may continue to satisfy by being charming, delightful, witty, heart-warming, hilarious, astringently refreshing, sharply observed, and deliciou ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Home and Other Hiding Places' by Jack Ellis, 'Loveland' by Robert Lukins, and 'Hovering' by Rhett Davis

March 2022, no. 440 21 February 2022
Home and Other Hiding Places by Jack Ellis Ultimo Press, $32.99 pb, 311 pp I have said this already in a recent review, but it is a special kind of novelist who can write about young characters yet still engage the adult reader. It’s also a special book that can handle the burden of what cover quotes are fond of labelling ‘warm-hearted’ or ‘big-hearted’ fiction. To me, such descriptions ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'We Were Not Men' by Campbell Mattinson, 'The Cookbook of Common Prayer' by Francesca Haig, and 'Small Joys of Real Life' by Allee Richards

November 2021, no. 437 25 October 2021
One of the hardest challenges for a novelist is to write a story for adults from the point of view of a child. In 1847, Charlotte Brontë set the bar high with Jane Eyre, the first novel to achieve this. The story ends when Jane is a woman but commences with the child Jane’s perspective. So effective for readers was Brontë’s ground-breaking feat that Charles Dickens decided to write Great Exp ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'We Were Not Men' by Campbell Mattinson, 'The Cookbook of Common Prayer' by Francesca Haig, and 'Small Joys of Real Life' by Allee Richards

November 2021, no. 437 28 September 2021
One of the hardest challenges for a novelist is to write a story for adults from the point of view of a child. In 1847, Charlotte Brontë set the bar high with Jane Eyre, the first novel to achieve this. The story ends when Jane is a woman but commences with the child Jane’s perspective. So effective for readers was Brontë’s ground-breaking feat that Charles Dickens decided to write Great Exp ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'After Story' by Larissa Behrendt

July 2021, no. 433 22 June 2021
Debra Adelaide reviews 'After Story' by Larissa Behrendt
In the latter half of this novel, one of its protagonists is viewing a collection of butterflies at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. This forms part of Jasmine’s holiday with her mother, Della, a tour of famous literary and other notable cultural sites in the United Kingdom. By this stage they have visited Stratford-upon-Avon, Brontë country in Haworth, and Jane Austen’s Bath ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'From Where I Fell' by Susan Johnson, 'New Animal' by Ella Baxter, and 'Unsheltered' by Clare Moleta

May 2021, no. 431 26 April 2021
From Where I Fell by Susan Johnson Allen & Unwin, $32.99 pb, 338 pp A new Susan Johnson novel is always a treat, partly because you get the sense that with each one she has set herself a specific creative challenge, and partly because she is such a fine writer. In From Where I Fell, the epistolary novel, popular in the nineteenth century, has been updated, with the entire work in the form of ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Eye of a Rook' by Josephine Taylor, 'Everyday Madness' by Susan Midalia, and 'A Room Called Earth' by Madeleine Ryan

March 2021, no. 429 22 February 2021
Determining connections between books sent as a review bundle is not mandatory, but there is an irresistible tendency to find some common theme. In the case of these three novels, the theme of women’s pain, and hidden pain at that, does not need to be teased out – it leaps out. Since it is unlikely that three different authors would have colluded, the prevalence of this is worth deeper reflect ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'In the Time of Foxes' by Jo Lennan

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
Debra Adelaide reviews 'In the Time of Foxes' by Jo Lennan
Wonderful is not a critical word, but that is where I begin. Now that I have made my peace with foxes, I am full of wonder for them. Doubly receptive to these stories, I am quickly seduced after the first few, in which foxes appear either substantially or marginally. There is much wonderment in these stories, though only one of them is what might strictly be called speculative. Throughout the coll ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'A Constant Hum' by Alice Bishop

November 2019, no. 416 24 October 2019
Debra Adelaide reviews 'A Constant Hum' by Alice Bishop
Thanks to the internet, the 24/7 news cycle, and social media, certain books are preceded by their reputations. They arrive freighted with so much publicity hype that reading them with fresh eyes is almost impossible. A Constant Hum is one such book, very much the product of a reputation established well before publication, due to the airing of individual stories in places like Seizure and Meanjin ... (read more)

Debra Adelaide reviews 'Peripheral Vision' by Paddy O'Reilly

August 2015, no. 373 29 July 2015
Debra Adelaide reviews 'Peripheral Vision' by Paddy O'Reilly
Just as there are ways of writing short story collections, there are also ways of reading them. I used to be a rummager, picking through collections, seeking out the title piece, dipping in here and there to ascertain the feel of the stories, then reading the book from start to finish. Conscious now of the architecture of collections, of the fact that the author has probably wrestled with the orde ... (read more)