Fiction

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Finishing Chris Somerville’s début story collection, We Are Not the Same Anymore, I felt a sense of alienation and ennui. Somerville writes with a stylistic sparseness that is deceptively simple but that repays rereading. Passages of awkwardness and deep introspection are punctuated by moments of humour, warmth, and vulnerability. Embedded within this star ...

Milly Main reviews 'Harmless' by Julienne van Loon

Milly Main
Sunday, 28 April 2013

A drunken woman stumbles into a party where people are gathered around a bonfire, determined to give the baby girl under her jacket to its father. When he refuses, she seizes the baby by the foot and throws it into the air above the fire. The child is Amanda and this is her start to a life that will be informed by criminals, harmed people – the crushed, flawed, ab ...

Bronwyn Lea reviews 'Burial Rites' by Hannah Kent

Bronwyn Lea
Sunday, 28 April 2013

A novel that can be summarised in a single, captivating sentence is a publisher’s dream. Not that ease of marketing is a reliable measure of excellence. Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse (1927), for instance – which could be described as ‘the story of a mother who dies before taking her son to visit a lighthouse, and later a woman completes a paintin ...

Wendy Were reviews 'Steeplechase' by Krissy Kneen

Wendy Were
Sunday, 28 April 2013

‘My sister Emily likes ponies and show jumping and arenas.’ Steeplechase, Krissy Kneen’s fourth book, opens innocently enough with this unremarkable announcement of a common girlhood infatuation. Before the first paragraph ends, this innocent observation is tempered by the obviously unwholesome quality that underpins the imaginative equine play of two y ...

Jan McGuinness reviews 'The Memory Trap'

Jan McGuinness
Sunday, 28 April 2013

Andrea Goldsmith, in her seventh novel, plunges once more into a world of characters whose ideas and relationships swirl and churn around a psychological trigger. This time it is memory in all its errant, bewitching manifestations. Memory plays tricks as the old adage goes, and for the novel’s main characters it is the trick of emersion in an idealised but rupture ...

Mullumbimby is a humorous, heartfelt, occasionally abrasive and brave work by a writer with an acute ear for language, an eye for subtle beauty, and a nose honed to sniff bullshit at a thousand paces. A sculptural work, produced by the author and photographed for the cover of the novel, is a bird’s nest, crafted from twigs, various grasse ...

As a woman and her daughter prepare to attend a memorial service for their husband and father, a railwayman, the girl offers the woman her kaleidoscope: ‘You could borrow this, Mum [...] You said it was good for seeing things differently.’ It is a resonant moment, the promise of a magical but fleeting distortion of reality both lovely and desperately sad. The sc ...

Melinda Harvey reviews Alice Munro's 'Dear Life'

Melinda Harvey
Friday, 26 April 2013

Philip Roth wasn’t the only writer to take the unusual step of announcing his retirement at the end of last year. Confirmation that Alice Munro was also relinquishing fiction was tucked away on the New Yorker’s blog, Page-Turner, three days after the New York Times ran an interview with Roth on its front page. While literary magazines here and over ...

Margaret Robson Kett reviews eight new picture books

Margaret Robson Kett
Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A pile of picture books to savour – what better start to the year? Experienced authors and artists are met again, and new favourites are found, in these eight books.

Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood, wonderful book makers in their own right, make a special team in The Treasure Box (Viking, $24.99 hb, 32 pp, 9780670073658). A boy and his fathe ...

Laurie Steed reviews 'The Dunbar Case' by Peter Corris

Laurie Steed
Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Known in certain quarters as ‘the godfather of Australian crime fiction’, Peter Corris is certainly persistent. Prior to this, he has written thirty-seven novels involving the wily, irrepressible Cliff Hardy. The Dunbar Case showcases an older but still sprightly Hardy, who deals with maritime mysteries, amorous women, and a notorious crime family.

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