From the Archive

noun Stack of Books 2157520

Sign up to From the Archive and receive a new review to your inbox every Monday. Always free to read.

 

Recent:

Just before the publication of her novel Dark Places in 1994, Kate Grenville said that she was thinking about her next book, ‘a heart-warming old-fashioned love story’. Well, The Idea of Perfection – and isn’t that what all love stories are about? – is that love story, though it warms both heart and head, for the bliss it affords is not so much visceral as aesthetic, even architectural.

... (read more)

Kim Scott is described on the inside cover of Benang, his second novel, as ‘a descendant of  people who have always lived along the south-east coast of Western Australia and is glad to be living in times when it is possible to explore the significance of that fact and be one among those who call themselves Nyoongar ...

... (read more)

Despite the importance of her poetry and prose, Oodgeroo’s experiences were much more than a catalogue of achievements in European terms. Her life, often hard fought, was one of enjoyment as well as pain, of laughter as well as sorrow. Oodgeroo had a wonderful sense of humour; it was, like the title of Ruby Langford’s latest book, ‘real deadly’. She was always able to use this to advantage, to embarrass stuffy politicos, to get action, to explode stereotypes of Aboriginal people. At the same time, she related to young people better than anyone else I have ever met. She told stories, she entertained, she challenged and always threw down the gauntlet. I’ll never forget the day she was involved in a radio hook-up with children from all over Queensland and was coaching aspiring young poets over the phone: ‘That’s a great piece – now you keep writing! Never forget; you do what your teachers say, because knowledge is power. Now, go out and get some!’

... (read more)

David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon is his eighth novel, his first since The Great World (1990) which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger. It is approximately two-thirds the length of that book but is longer than his first three fictions, Johnno, An Imaginary Life, and Fly Away Peter. Its length is important, as in its 200 pages it packs one of the most powerful punches to be found in any contemporary novel. Astonishingly compact and almost feverishly lucid, Remembering Babylon is a searing and startling literary parable, in my opinion destined to endure as one of Australia’s literary commandments.

... (read more)

‘One day in the middle of the nineteenth century, when settlement in Queensland had advanced scarcely more than halfway up the coast …’ The opening lines of the novel seek to place it and us squarely in the discourse of history; to require that we lay aside the credulity with which the reader welcomes in romance and fantasy and become fellow-enquirers into the world of factual record, population figures and dates, marks on maps, important conflicts and the names of governors.

... (read more)

Modern Australians live of course in a concourse or babble of discourses. We make our way through the bubble-and-squeak of chopped-up value systems. There is no tall hierarchy of speakings, no league ladder. Nor is there anything as redgum-solid as permanence; if anything, transience is taken as proof of the genuine.

... (read more)

In the thirty or so years that she has been publishing fiction, Thea Astley has mapped out a literary territory very clearly her own, a territory that is defined in the first place by regional geography.

... (read more)

Initial appearances notwithstanding, The Great World is not a grand, epic title. It is a phrase of the wide-eyed naäf, gaping at the wondrous, which is anything beyond his experience, especially any tawdry, flashy concoction. In fact, David Malouf’s primary ‘great world’ is an entertainment park of that name in Singapore where ...

... (read more)

I am a Boat by Sally Morrison

by
May 1989, no. 110

Collections of new Australian short stories by a single author have become a regular feature of Australian literary publishing in recent years. They are a welcome addition to the range of new writing available to the reading public. Collections that have unity of style, are thematically coherent and present a linked set of perceptions from the one creative source offer the reader much more than a light or fragmentary experience. Instead of the sustained characterisation of the novel, they can achieve a dazzling variety of episodes and mood. Robert Drewe’s Body Surfers and Helen Garner’s Postcards from Surfers are outstanding examples of how good the best collections of stories can be. It was a great delight to pick up I am a Boat by Sally Morrison and find that, although it is only her second book, in style, originality and literary quality, Morrison is fast approaching the Drewe and Garner class.

... (read more)

Are you (as I am) conscious of suffering from what they call the postmodern condition? You know, the spiritual and moral void within commodity culture, the isolation of individualism, the lack of meaning and all that. Since reading this book, I have begun to think that we should all spend time in Sparkes Creek. Havelock Ellis, who became the great British psychologist of sex, went there over a hundred years ago, as a boy of nineteen:

... (read more)
Page 4 of 5