January-February 2015, issue no. 368

Ronnie Scott reviews 'Crow Mellow' by Julian Davies

Ronnie Scott

Crow Mellow, the sixth novel by Julian Davies, centres on a bush retreat where a millionaire couple gathers artists to share around ideas. From an optimistic standpoint, the retreat is a salon. Viewed differently, all parties are engaged in a status grab: artists ‘came from the cities of the east coast to score … the kudos of being there when their collea ... More

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Breaking Beauty' edited by Lynette Washington

Cassandra Atherton

The authors of the stories in Breaking Beauty are graduates of the University of Adelaide, which Brian Castro (a professor there) reminds us in his introduction is ‘the first and best creative writing college in the country’. However, as an advertisement for creative writing at Adelaide University, this collection has limited success. While the contributo ... More

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Springtime' by Michelle de Kretser

Francesca Sasnaitis

Anyone who has lived in Sydney’s inner west will recognise the terrain of Springtime: gardens redolent of mystery and decay, shabbiness, unexpected vistas, and streets that Michelle de Kretser describes as running ‘everywhere like something spilled’.

Frances has moved to Sydney with Charlie, who has left his wife and son Luke behind in Melbourne ... More

Christian Griffiths reviews 'Perfidia' by James Ellroy

Christian Griffiths

There is a quality in James Ellroy’s fiction that evades analysis and exceeds his popular status as a successful author in the ‘crime genre’. This quality is in part connected to his demanding narratives, which inevitably leave one with the nagging feeling that there is a great deal one has failed to understand, and which prompt (often multiple) re-readings of ... More

Gillian Dooley reviews 'To Love a Sunburnt Country' by Jackie French

Gillian Dooley

Jackie French, according to the press release for her new adult novel To Love a Sunburnt Country, has written over 140 books in a twenty-five-year career. Many are for children and teenagers. I have only read one other, A Waltz for Matilda (2012), the first in ‘the Matilda Saga’ for teens; but these two books share at least one character and severa ... More

Susan Lever reviews 'Merciless Gods' by Christos Tsiolkas

Susan Lever

Susan Lever reviews Merciless Gods, a new collection of short stories by Christos Tsiolkas, and concludes that, though admirable, the work amounts to confined literary art.

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Jane Sullivan reviews 'The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher' by Hilary Mantel

Jane Sullivan

Jane Sullivan reflects on the 'literary cathedrals' Hilary Mantel has erected in her new collection of short stories, The Assassination of  Margaret Thatcher.

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Claudia Hyles reviews 'A God in Every Stone' by Kamila Shamsie

Claudia Hyles

In 515 bce, Scylax, explorer and storyteller, sets sail from Caspatyrus in King Darius’s empire. Eclipsing time, this antique glimpse shifts to an archaeological dig in Turkey in 1914, one that is abandoned when war breaks out.In the service of ‘king and country’, lives change immeasurably. Vivian Rose Spencer exc ... More

Christian Griffiths reviews 'Navigatio' by Patrick Holland

Christian Griffiths

Patrick Holland’s Navigatio tells the story of Saint Brendan, a monk in early-Christian Ireland who embarks on a sea-bound pilgrimage. The religious nature of this premise offers Holland a degree of freedom from historical realism, and the oceanic regions explored by Brendan are thereby conceived as a realm of mythic and apocalyptic imagination. Brendan’s ... More

Alison Broinowski reviews 'The Wild Goose' by Mori Õgai

Alison Broinowski

Elegantly evoking Japan with cream paper and ink-painted foliage on the cover and inside pages, this slim paperback from the small Braidwood publisher Finlay Lloyd is headed by the single, bold character for ‘wild goose’ (karikarigane). The events recounted in Mori Õgai’s novella occur in Tokyo in the late nineteenth century, in the area north of Kanda ... More

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