August 2015, issue no. 373

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Poets' Stairwell' by Alan Gould

Gillian Dooley

In 1977 the aspiring poet Alan Gould travelled through Europe with his friend Kevin Hart. Just such a tour forms the narrative thread for Gould’s latest novel, The Poets’ Stairwell. This is a roman à clef and those in the know will enjoy the identification game.

More interesting, though, is the intellectual journey; Gould’s virginal twenty-seve ... More

David Whish-Wilson reviews 'Coming Rain' by Stephen Daisley

David Whish-Wilson

For this reviewer, it’s been a long five years since the publication of Stephen Daisley’s Traitor (2010). The rightly acclaimed and award-winning début novel wrote of the terrors of war, and the life on the land of one irreparably damaged New Zealand soldier, David. As an exploration of the damage done to an ordinary and unappreciated man, the prose was ... More

Rose Lucas reviews 'The Mothers' by Rod Jones

Rose Lucas

Rod Jones’s new novel, The Mothers, works on a number of levels. It provides a social and familial history of life in Melbourne’s working-class suburbs throughout the twentieth century while also telling the often moving stories of individuals connected across generations, usually mothers and children, battling to survive in adverse circumstances.

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Kevin Rabalais reviews 'The Wonder Lover' by Malcolm Knox

Kevin Rabalais

Since the publication of his début novel, Summerland (2000), Malcolm Knox has established himself as one of the most ambitious and exciting fiction writers at work in Australia. A seasoned journalist, recipient of two Walkley Awards– one for his work, with Caroline Overington, in the exposé of Norma Khouri– and prolific author of diverse non-fiction wor ... More

Catriona Menzies-Pike reviews 'The Life of Houses' by Lisa Gorton

Catriona Menzies-Pike

We meet Kit, a reticent and slightly spoilt teenager, just after her arrival at the train station of an unnamed Victorian seaside town. She has been picked up by her friendly, daggy aunt Treen and taken to the Sea House, a dilapidated nineteenth-century mansion that is a case study in antipodean gothic.

Treen lives in the Sea House as a carer and companion t ... More

Reading Australia: 'Lilian's Story' by Kate Grenville

Peter Craven

Kate Grenville’s Lilian’s Story is one of the great Australian novels of the last thirty years. When it was first published in 1985, it was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. The original cover carried a recommendation by Patrick White, Nobel laureate and the greatest writer of any kind Australia has produced. White said ... More

Tony Birch on 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' by Thomas Keneally for Reading Australia

Tony Birch

Thomas Keneally’s novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972) is based in part on historical events, particularly the crimes committed by Jimmy Governor, an Aboriginal man from New South Wales. In 1900, Governor was a key figure involved in the killing of nine Europeans, including five women and children. The killings followed Governor’s marriage t ... More

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Forever Young' by Steven Carroll

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Most Australians, if asked to name a date they associate with the name Gough Whitlam, would say ‘11 November 1975’. Steven Carroll subverts this expectation at the outset ... More

Patrick Allington reviews 'That Deadman Dance' by Kim Scott

Patrick Allington

Kim Scott noted in 2001 that the biographical notes accompanying his first two novels (True Country, 1993, and Benang: From the Heart, 1999) changed from ‘Kim Scott ... of Aboriginal and British ancestry’ to ‘Kim Scott ... one among those who call themselves Noongar’. Scott probed his self-identification to make a more confronting point: ‘The ... More

Reading Australia: 'That Deadman Dance' by Kim Scott

Patrick Allington

The shortlist for the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award, which included Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, was controversial because it consisted of only three novels, all written by men. The exclusion of women writers for that year itself was noteworthy: for example, Fiona McGregor’s fine novel of Sydney, Indelible InkMore

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