January-February 2015, issue no. 368

Brian Matthews reviews 'Jovial Harbinger of Doom: short stories of Laurie Clancy'

Brian Matthews

A story called ‘The Burden’, which appears at about the halfway mark of this collection, begins like this: ‘Graham was finding the burden of freedom a little too much for him …’ He is working alone in his room above a Chinese restaurant near the Berkeley campus of the University of California, where he is a visiting Australian Fellow, writing a novel about ... More

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Bapo' by Nicholas Jose

Felicity Plunkett

In Charles Simić’s book about Joseph Cornell’s assemblages, Dime-Store Alchemy (1992), he quotes his own translation of Croatian poet Slavko Mihalić to describe Cornell’s sculpture ‘Deserted Perch, 1949’, noting ‘the very tiny crack in which another world begins and ends’. Simićmarvels at this ‘Illusionist art ... sleight of hand’.

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Sophia Barnes reviews 'Lila' by Marilynne Robinson

Sophia Barnes

Lila is the third of Marilynne Robinson’s novels to take the small Iowan town of Gilead as its setting. It follows the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead (2004) and the Orange Prize-winning Home (2008). Robinson has attributed her earlier return to this fictional territory, and the lives of the Ames and Boughton families, to her unwillingnes ... More

Doug Wallen reviews 'Wolf in White Van' by John Darnielle

Doug Wallen

Despite the acoustic guitar driving most of his music as the leader of celebrated American band The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle hung out with the ‘metal kids’ in high school. During more than two decades as a songwriter, he has returned again and again to young misfits who find solace in music and other forms of escape – whether comic books, games, movies, ... More

Catriona Menzies-Pike reviews '10:04' by Ben Lerner

Catriona Menzies-Pike

In Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04, weather maps that promise hurricanes deliver mere showers. The symptoms presented by an ailing human body don’t always yield a diagnosis and the night sky is a mystery. Excavated dinosaur bones can suggest that a creature as wonderful as a brontosaurus might have existed and then, on review, reveal that marvel t ... More

Rachel Robertson reviews 'Six' by John Clanchy

Rachel Robertson

At the start of ‘True Glue’, Dale the postie is called a Luddite by his mate and wonders if this is some religious or political splinter group he hasn’t yet heard of, before going home to google it. In ‘Slow Burn’, Daryl Turtle has a troublesome close encounter with a yellow toaster while suffering from ‘man flu’, resulting in a hilarious scene in a ch ... More

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'The Break' by Deb Fitzpatrick

Gretchen Shirm

The Break centres on the story of two families. Rosie quits her job as a journalist in Perth and moves, with her boyfriend, to the Margaret River, where they try to escape the monotony of their city existence. Ferg lives on a fruit orchard with his wife, his son, and his widowed mother. With the arrival of Ferg’s estranged brother Mike, relationships are st ... More

Naama Amram reviews 'Deeper Water' by Jessie Cole

Naama Amram

Deeper Water delivers on its title’s promise of immersion, sensuality, and the liminal. Narrated by Mema, an innocent twenty-two-year-old living on an isolated rural property, the book opens with the arrival of Hamish, a city sophisticate whose car has been washed down a flooding creek. Mema saves Hamish from drowning and takes him into her family home unti ... More

Doug Wallen reviews 'Slush-Pile' by Ian Shadwell

Doug Wallen

Billed as ‘a satire of literary ambition’, Ian Shadwell’s début novel chronicles the misadventures of Michael Ardenne, an Australian author who has been riding the coat-tails of his Booker Prize-winning first book for more than a decade. Content for years to drain every last drop of goodwill from the book industry, not to mention his long-suffering wife, he h ... More

Mark Byron reviews 'Echo's Bones' by Samuel Beckett

Mark Byron

It is a theatrical truism that Samuel Beckett remains good box office: the Sydney Theatre Company recently announced its intention to take the 2013 production of Waiting for Godot to the Barbican in 2015, with the original cast. Another truism – adapted from a remark once made by Edward Albee – is that at any moment a Beckett production occurs somewhere i ... More

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