Fiction

Beejay Silcox reviews 'Border Districts' by Gerald Murnane

Beejay Silcox
Friday, 24 November 2017

There is a whiff of mythology about Gerald Murnane. He is quietly infamous for who he isn’t: for the things he’s never done (travel by aeroplane); the things he’ll never do (live outside of Victoria, wear sunglasses); the things he’ll never do again (watch movies or a Shakespeare play); the books he won’t read (contemporary fiction); the books he won’t write ...

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Barry Reynolds reviews 'Bad to Worse' by Robert Edeson

Barry Reynolds
Friday, 24 November 2017

You can’t help but smile while reading Robert Edeson’s Bad to Worse, his second book featuring Richard Worse, polymath, conversationalist, fighter, and resident of Perth. The mirth may have something to do with the Dickensian names Edeson uses throughout – not just Worse, but an aeronautics engineer called Walter Reckles, the Norwegian–British logician ...

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Fiona Wright reviews 'Drawing Sybylla' by Odette Kelada

Fiona Wright
Friday, 24 November 2017

Drawing Sybylla is a wonderfully unusual book, narrated in parts by a modern-day Sybil – one of those ‘mad mouthpieces’ of prophesy and poetry from Ancient Greece. This Sybil springs to life from an elaborate doodle in a notebook, drawn by a Sydney Writers’ Festival panelist who is listening to another writer on her panel. This writer is describing to ...

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Catherine Noske reviews 'Terra Nullius' by Claire G. Coleman

Catherine Noske
Friday, 24 November 2017

It is hard to review a novel when you don’t want to discuss two-thirds of it – not because it is not worth discussing, but because doing so risks undermining the genius of the novel’s structure. The blurb of Claire G. Coleman’s début makes clear that the novel is ‘not [about] the Australia of our history’, but for the first third of the novel, this is not readily apparent ...

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Dancing Home' by Paul Collis

Jay Daniel Thompson
Friday, 24 November 2017

Dancing Home opens in forthright fashion. The author, Paul Collis, urges readers to ‘[t]ake sides. Be involved in the ideas I’ve written into this book.’ The novel offers an uncompromising examination of some of the injustices faced by Indigenous Australians. The plot focuses on three men – Blackie, Rips, and Carlos – who have embarked on a ...

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Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Pacific Room' by Michael Fitzgerald

Gillian Dooley
Friday, 24 November 2017

Simile haunts The Pacific Room. So many sentences begin ‘It’s as if ...’ that the phrase seems like an incantation. Michael Fitzgerald writes that he agrees with Robert Louis Stevenson that ‘every book is, in an intimate sense, a circular letter to the friends of him who writes it. They alone take his meaning.’ For the reviewer coming from outside the circle, this ...

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Anna MacDonald reviews 'Half Wild' by Pip Smith

Anna MacDonald
Friday, 24 November 2017

In this inventive début novel, Pip Smith recounts the multiple lives of Eugenia Falleni, the ‘man-woman’ who in 1920, as Harry Crawford, was convicted of murdering his first wife, Annie Birkett. Smith employs various types of text–sketches, newspaper articles, witness statements – alongside third-person accounts – to embroider an archive rich in narrative ...

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Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Atlantic Black' by A.S. Patrić

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Friday, 24 November 2017

Writing this review in the first week in November, I look at the calendar and note that we are a few days away from the seventy-ninth anniversary of Kristallnacht, when, over the two days of 9–10 November 1938, at the instigation of Joseph Goebbels, there was a nationwide pogrom against German Jews that saw synagogues, business premises, and private ...

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Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Demi-Gods' by Eliza Robertson

Felicity Plunkett
Friday, 24 November 2017

In the preface to Demi-Gods, a boy burns moths with a magnifying glass. A girl – the novel’s narrator, Willa – watches ‘khaki wings’ that seem to be ‘folded from rice paper’. She imagines ‘ten moths circling a candle to form a lantern’, cries later, but does not stop Patrick. The wings ignite ‘like dog-eared pages in a book’ ...

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Brian Matthews reviews 'A Sea-Chase' by Roger McDonald

Brian Matthews
Wednesday, 25 October 2017

As Ratty observed to Mole, ‘There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.’ In Roger McDonald’s A Sea-Chase, lovers Wes Bannister and Judy Compton would certainly agree, but before they achieve Ratty’s state of nautical transcendence much that does matter has to be dealt with.

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