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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'The Darkest Little Room' by Patrick Holland

Jay Daniel Thompson
Thursday, 29 November 2012
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he Darkest Little Room, Patrick Holland’s latest novel, looks at sexual slavery and obsession in South-East Asia. The protagonist is Joseph, an Australian reporter travelling in Vietnam. Intent on finding a beautiful woman glimpsed briefly, he receives word that she may be working in a brothel known as ‘the darkest little room’. In pursuing ...

Crusader Hillis reviews 'Walter' by Ashley Sievwright

Crusader Hillis
Thursday, 29 November 2012

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 ...

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 ...

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.

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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 ...