Fiction

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The way nostalgia works, according to theorists, is that we pine for the era just before our own. This may be why the twenty-something musicians of today mine the sounds of the 1980s. But does this pattern succeed in Young Adult fiction? What does an author gain by setting his or her story in the ‘nostalgia zone’ of potential readers?

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Benjamin Chandler reviews 'Liberator' by Richard Harland

Benjamin Chandler
Monday, 22 August 2011

Richard Harland’s Liberator begins three months after its predecessor, Worldshaker (2009), left off. The optimism and exuberance that marked the success of the revolution has dimmed as the inhabitants of the newly renamed Liberator struggle with the realities of running the mobile juggernaut. A saboteur breeds havoc and mistrust between the governing council of Filt ...

To make Ernest Giles’s trek across the scrub and desert of southern Australia interesting to younger readers, relate it through the eyes of a young protagonist. It was an inspired choice to invent Taj, twelve-year-old son of the historical figure Saleh Mohamed, Afghan cameleer, and an equally inspired choice to invent Taj’s beloved young camel, Mustara. The love and respect between camel an ...

Ruth Starke reviews eight recent children's books

Ruth Starke
Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Linda and Paul McCartney, so the story goes, became vegetarians the moment they looked up from a delicious meal of roast lamb and saw a flock of lambs gambolling in the field beyond their cottage. Young readers of Pamela Freeman’s Lollylegs (Walker Books, $11.95 pb, 64 pp, 9781921529078) might well have a similar reaction, since the connection in Lollylegs between the meal o ...

Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Pig Boy' by J.C. Burke

Bec Kavanagh
Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Damon Styles keeps a list of those who have crossed him. In a small, bully-rich town like Strathven, there are a lot of them. Damon has a plan, though, and getting his gun licence is only part of it. Next he needs to get a job with the Pigman. Nobody really knows the latter. He is foreign, shoots pigs, and keeps to himself, which is quite enough to fuel rumours in Strathven. Damon knows that th ...

Owen Richardson reviews 'The Pale King' by David Foster Wallace

Owen Richardson
Wednesday, 29 June 2011

In David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, set half at a tennis academy and half at a rehab centre, one of the characters says that junior athletics is about sacrificing the ‘hot narrow imperatives of the Self’ to ‘the larger imperatives of the team (OK, the State) and a set of delimiting rules (OK, the Law)’. Meanwhile, the rehab inmates are learning, with the help of the twel ...

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'When We Have Wings' by Claire Corbett

Jay Daniel Thompson
Wednesday, 29 June 2011

When We Have Wings, the first novel by Blue Mountains journalist Claire Corbett, offers an ambitious and politically engaged blend of detective narrative, family melodrama, and futuristic thriller. In the dystopian world that Corbett depicts, social élites are distinguished by their ability to fly. These elect ‘fliers’ soar through the air using genuine wings. One such flier is th ...

Tim Brewer reviews 'Bearings' by Leah Swann

Tim Brewer
Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Leah Swann’s first fiction publication comprises a novella and seven short stories, all dealing with themes relating to the book’s title, Bearings. Each short story provides a familiar plot in which Swann’s characters search for meaning and direction: a young boy deciding which parent to live with; an old woman reflecting on a hard life; and two forty-somethings looking for love, ...

Weeks before its release, the Man Booker tipsters are laying short odds on Alan Hollinghurst’s new novel, the successor to his 2004 winner, The Line of Beauty. Booker cynics might agree that the great British literary race has in some seasons had more in common with pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey than the Derby, but here is surely a promising contender for 2011’s glittering prize. Wher ...

Brenda Niall reviews 'A Man of Parts' by David Lodge

Brenda Niall
Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Nearly seven years ago, David Lodge had the bad luck to collide with Colm Tóibín when both writers produced a novel about Henry James. Tóibín was the first to publish; his work The Master (2004) won high praise and a Booker Prize nomination. Lodge’s Author, Author (2004), trailing six months behind, suffered in the inevitable comparisons. The ...

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