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Patrick Allington

Patrick Allington

Patrick Allington was the recipient of the inaugural ABR Patrons’ Fellowship, worth $5000. His novel, Figurehead (Black Inc. 2009), was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. His short fiction and book criticism appears in Australian newspapers, magazines, and journals, including regularly in ABR.

Patrick Allington reviews 'Every Secret Thing' by Marie Munkara

April 2010, no. 320 01 April 2010
From its opening line – ‘It had been a shit of a day for Sister Annunciata and Sister Clavie’ – Marie Munkara’s collection of stories about life on an island mission in northern Australia is a raw, hilarious and penetrating chronicle. The two nuns stare at the sky waiting for the bishop. His plane overshoots the airstrip and lands with a ‘resounding crump’. It is as if the bishop – ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'Notebooks: 1970–2003' by Murray Bail

May 2006, no. 281 01 May 2006
These writer’s scribblings, handsomely reproduced, cover two distinct periods in Murray Bail’s life: London from 1970 to 1974; and Sydney from 1988 to 2003. The notebooks from the London period, which represent roughly two-thirds of this book, were previously published as Longhand: A Writer’s Notebook (1989). While readers may find some interest in comparing the formative and the mature writ ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'The Complete Stories' by David Malouf

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
David Malouf’s The Complete Stories brings together the three and a bit books, spanning twenty-five years, that constitute his forays into shorter fiction: Antipodes (1985), Dream Stuff (2000), and Every Move You Make (2006), along with two stories that accompanied his novella Child’s Play (1982). Given that this is a collection rather than a selection – no stories are cut from the earlier b ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'Transnational Literature, Volume 2, Issue 2' edited by Ioana Petrescu

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
This issue of open access e-journal Transnational Literature offers contributions from a 2009 symposium on migration, held in Adelaide. It is a diverse collection, appropriately so given persistent themes of dislocation, assimilation and multiculturalism. Still, perhaps diversity has its limits: the issue is burdened with Graeme Harper’s keynote symposium address, a ponderous and misplaced comme ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'Unintelligent Design' by Robyn Williams

October 2006, no. 285 01 October 2006
Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) suggests that the Babel fish, which, when inserted into the ear, offers instant translations of any alien language, cannot have evolved by mere chance. Similarly, proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) argue that, as Robyn Williams summarises, ‘there are parts of the natural world so complex and engineered with such precision that on ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'Bodies of Men' by Nigel Featherstone

August 2019, no. 413 22 July 2019
From its raw and revelatory prologue, Nigel Featherstone’s novel Bodies of Men offers a thoroughly humanising depiction of Australians during World War II. In telling the story of two soldiers, William – too young to be a corporal – and his childhood friend James, Featherstone reflects upon the brutality, drudgery, and absurdity of war but also on the two men’s love and regard for each oth ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'A New England Affair' by Steven Carroll

September 2017, no. 394 25 August 2017
In his fiction, Steven Carroll stretches and slows time. He combines this with deliberate over-explaining and repetition, the echoing of memories and ideas, coincidence, and theatricality. A distinctive rhythm results: when reading his work, I often find myself nodding in time to the words. Occasionally – and it happens now and again in his new novel, A New England Affair – the prose starts to ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'A Long Time Coming: Essays on old age' by Melanie Joosten

September 2016, no. 384 24 August 2016
Melanie Joosten begins the introduction to A Long Time Coming, her book of essays about ageing, by quoting Simone de Beauvoir: 'let us recognise ourselves in this old man or in that old woman'. In doing so, Joosten makes a plea for heightened empathy towards older people, but she goes on to make it clear that empathy without action – without changed perceptions, changed behaviour – is insuffic ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'From the Outer: Footy like you've never heard it' edited by Alicia Sometimes and Nicole Hayes

June–July 2016, no. 382 24 May 2016
'With time,' writes Australian Rules Football goal umpire Chelsea Roffey, 'I wrapped my lady brain around the mathematics of scoring.' Roffey's account of being an élite football official doubles as a sharply funny take on the progress the AFL community has – and hasn't – made in its approach to gender. Employing a sequence of well-aimed one-liners, Roffey gets the sarcasm level just right, a ... (read more)

Patrick Allington reviews 'Hope Farm' by Peggy Frew

January-February 2016, no. 378 18 December 2015
'I try to imagine going back': so begins a story about a woman remembering her childhood even when it seems she would just as soon forget it. Hope Farm is Melbourne writer and musician Peggy Frew's second novel. Her terrific début, House of Sticks (2011), was about, among other things, contemporary parenthood and the rhythm of conventional and unconventional lives. Hope Farm explores similar them ... (read more)
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