Several years ago, I was privy to a breakfast conversation with one of our venerable literary critics, in which he lamented the proliferation of novels in Australia by young women. Of particular concern, he announced, was the tendency of said young women to construct ‘itsy-bitsy sentences from itsy-bitsy words’. And he smiled around the table warmly, secure in venerable male polysyllabic verbosity. As a young woman myself of vague literary urges, I felt thoroughly rebuffed. The only words I could think to form were both too itsy-bitsy and obscene to constitute effective rebuttal, and they remained unsaid.... (read more)
‘What kind of game is the sea?’ asks the speaker of Tracy K. Smith’s poem ‘Minister of Saudade’. ‘Lap and drag’, comes the response, ‘Crag and gleam / That continual work of wave / And tide’. It is not until the end of The Weekend that the sea’s majestic game is brought into focus, and then the natural world rises, a riposte, to eclipse human trivia ...... (read more)
Ten years after the first ABR FAN Poll, the second one was limited to Australian novels published since 2000 (though we received votes for recent classics such as 1984, Voss, and Monkey Grip). When voting closed in mid-September, Richard Flanagan’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North emerged ...... (read more)
If a collection of stories is put together on the basis that these are the ‘best Australian stories of 2016’, is it fair or reasonable to hope for some kind of cohesiveness or gestalt beyond ...... (read more)
Writers have, it seems, an insatiable appetite for reading about writing; and such advice comes in various forms. There are books that promise to teach their readers how to write in any ...... (read more)
In an isolated hut in the countryside, a young woman wakes from a drug-induced sleep to discover that she is dressed in a nineteenth-century smock. She soon finds another young woman in the same condition, and both are forced to submit to the shaving of their heads. It is contemporary Australia: kookaburras cackle outside. Are they in a prison, or a religious cult, ...
I hate the words ‘bitch’ and ‘pimp’ and ‘porn’ used – even ironically – for everything from cookery to cars to home décor. I think we should all say ‘thrice’ again.... (read more)
Early in Charlotte Wood’s previous novel The Children (2007), one of Stephen Connolly’s sisters describes him as lost; she says he carries within him ‘a bedrock of resentment … never articulated and never resolved, but which has formed the foundation for his every conversation, every glance from his guarded eyes’. Readers may disagree with this harsh assessment as they read W ...