Ashley Sievwright’s second novel has several of the hallmarks of his Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-nominated début novel, The Shallow End (2008). At the heart of each is a mystery that slowly unfolds while never overwhelming the story. It is not the dénouement in either book that is important, but the effect that gradual revelations have on the main chara ... More
David Foster’s earlier Dog Rock novels came out of his experience as a Bundanoon postman in the 1980s. A recent brief return to his old run has provided irresistible material for a further comic foray into rural life. Dog Rock: A Postal Pastoral (1985) and The Pale Blue Crochet Coathanger Cover (1988)observed the changes in a country village under th ... More
In his Introduction to The Seaglass Spiral, Finlay Lloyd reveals that an earlier version of this novel won an award for ‘best rejected manuscript’. It is a curiously back-handed compliment for a publisher to pay his author, and it is typical of an Introduction that seems cautious, even diffident, about its product.... More
The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer is a novel that manages to be absolutely itself, with a wholly idiosyncratic voice, while at the same time acting as a veritable echo chamber of earlier writers. The first page, with its lofty insistence about what ‘should not surprise the world’ in the behaviour of a young woman with the surname Ward, immediately ... More
In the opening pages of The Casual Vacancy, a man named Barry Fairbrother collapses and dies in the car park of the Pagford Golf Club. For the next seven chapters, news of his premature demise spreads through the small English town. Reactions vary.
‘Fairbrother’s dead? … Good God … He wasn’t much past forty was he?’
‘Gavin ... More
Midnight Empire, the second novel by Canberra author Andrew Croome, depicts political intrigue and acts of violence that play out against the backdrop of the so-called ‘war on terror’.
The protagonist is Daniel Carter, a young Australian computer programmer who arrives in Las Vegas for business purposes. Daniel develops a taste for cards and has a ... More
The epigraph from Plato’s Phaedrus cleverly introduces the Socratic dialogue on which David Brooks’s new novel turns. This makes for a brilliant foray into the contradictions at the heart of the truths that both characters are seeking in The Conversation. This question-and-answer exchange is presented as a kind of Scheherazadian dégustation of nar ... More
Cate Kennedy’s fine second collection of short stories, Like a House on Fire, is of a determinedly realist bent. Metafictional play does not generally form part of Kennedy’s armoury, and the mostly low-rent settings and struggling characters reprise what in the 1980s and early 1990s was briefly known as dirty realism, though Kennedy’s prose is not as re ... More
Hugh Drysdale, thirtyish, appears to have it made. An ambitious account manager with a Sydney advertising agency, he seems poised for a dazzling career. Confident of future success, he has installed his wife and son in a palatial house by the sea – with a palatial mortgage to show for it.... More
The Rest is Weight, by Jennifer Mills, is a restless collection of short stories. Its settings include Russia, remote parts of Australia, Mexico, and China. The stories are densely packed; there are no ‘snapshots’ or ‘sketches’, only well-made narratives populated by plausible, complicated characters. Nor is there any decorative writing; no show ... More