Fiction

noun Stack of Books 2157520

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noun Stack of Books 2157520

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Recent:

This is a book of rather brief short stories, few of which exceed a dozen pages. This leaves room for nineteen stories in a fairly short collection. Most of them read easily, each one effortlessly displacing its predecessor. There are, of course, standouts, to which I shall return, but the most striking overall characteristic is the distinctively personalised tone. The wide variety of personae ...

Mary Watson’s tale begins in Brisbane in the 1870s, when, aged nineteen, she flees an abusive and drunkard father and finds employment as a pianist in a whorehouse in Cooktown run by a Frenchman, Charley Boule. Determined to improve her prospects, she secretly signs on to more lucrative employment: spying on smuggling rackets. It is not clear what is being smuggled – it might be guns – bu ...

Stories of the impact of European discovery, exploration, invasion, and settlement on Australia are naturally a source of fascination to novelists. The microcosm of the island of Tasmania, with its cruel yet beautiful landscape and its unforgiving weather, offers these stories with a special kind of eerie horror. Against this setting, the stories emerge both in concert and in counterpoint, desc ...

Milan Zorec, protagonist of I Hate Martin Amis Et Al., walks into the London office of a literary agency that has rejected his novel and terrorises the agent before going to jail, where he decides to travel to besieged Sarajevo in order to vent his spleen by assassinating innocent civilians. In the light of this, and for other reasons, a reviewer of this disquieting, artful novel must ...

How would Dennis Keith – or, if we’re using the language of legends, DK – characterise it? ‘The Life was this mythic world where you could surf as much as you want, every day, any day, go anywhere [...] Getting waves was everything, every day.’ In Malcolm Knox’s exceptional new novel, this world – with its singular focus, and its sacred ecstasies – is revealed in a language both ...

Faces in the Clouds begins with a drunken soldier arriving at a hospital in which his second son is fighting for breath. The struggle of the soldier’s twin sons, Stephen and Lawrence, continues throughout the novel, from their vividly described early years in an army barracks to their lives as young adults.

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Stephanie Owen Reeder reviews eight new picture books

Stephanie Owen Reeder
24 May 2011

A matter of style

Stephanie Owen Reeder

 

Once upon a time, Australian picture books were easy to pick because of their distinctive artwork, which often featured Australia’s unique landscape and its flora and fauna. Nowadays, many Australian illustrators adopt a more universal style.

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When Tessa wakes up in hospital, she has no idea who she is or how she came to be there. The only clues are the ‘long, thin, striping slashes’ scarring her back. With no way of knowing who or where her family is, Tessa is sent to Cascade Falls College, an exclusive girls’ boarding school on the outskirts of Hobart. She befriends the ‘untouchables’, a group of quirky scholarship studen ...

At the heart of Gail Jones’s Five Bells is a hymn to Kenneth Slessor’s dazzling elegy of the same name, published in 1939.

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How to review a book that includes, as major characters, Simpson and his donkey, the Dig Tree, and a bus that may or may not be a tram?

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