Fiction

Jane Sullivan reviews 'The Seaglass Spiral' by Alan Gould

Jane Sullivan
Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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.

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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 ...

James Ley reviews 'The Casual Vacancy' by J.K. Rowling

James Ley
Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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 ...

Joy Lawn reviews recent picture books

Joy Lawn
Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tohby Riddle’s Unforgotten (Allen & Unwin, $35 hb, 123 pp, 9781742379722) will be appreciated by aficionados of Shaun Tan’s sophisticated illustrated works and Riddle’s impressive books. This atmospheric book is allegorical and metaphorical, and the structure is cyclic. It begins and ends in the heavens; and gradually revea ...

Laura Elvery reviews 'Into that Forest' by Louis Nowra

Laura Elvery
Monday, 26 November 2012

 The world’s last known Tasmanian tiger died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. Surviving film footage of the marsupial is brief. No sound recordings exist of a thylacine’s bark or cough. Its extinction is one of Australia’s most lamentable tales. Nowra’s sad, dark novel imagines how these carnivores could care for two children lost in the wilderness.

Hanna ...

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Midnight Empire' by Andrew Croome

Jay Daniel Thompson
Friday, 26 October 2012

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 ...

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'The Conversation' by David Brooks

Cassandra Atherton
Friday, 26 October 2012

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 ...

Anthony Lynch reviews 'Like a House on Fire' by Cate Kennedy

Anthony Lynch
Friday, 26 October 2012

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 ...

The Marmalade Files is a novel by Canberra press gallery veterans Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann. Set in 2011, it is a fast-paced political thriller with decidedly modest ambitions. Probably intended as a thriller or a light-hearted romp through Canberra’s back rooms, The Marmalade Files fails on both counts. It is a sort of bastard potboiler, weirdly ...

Denise O'Dea reviews 'We All Fall Down' by Peter Barry

Denise O'Dea
Friday, 26 October 2012

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.

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