September 2017, issue no. 394

Naama Grey-Smith reviews 'Gravity Well' by Melanie Joosten

Naama Grey-Smith

Gravity Well opens with Carl Sagan’s famous ‘mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam’ quote, suggesting themes of astronomy, loneliness, and humanity’s cosmic insignificance. Though I was immediately smitten with the cover design (a nebula-coloured orb, its top and bottom halves depicting mirrored but not identical female silhouettes amid a sea of cosmi ... More

Donata Carrazza reviews 'No More Boats' by Felicity Castagna

Donata Carrazza

No More Boats is Felicity Castagna’s newest work since Small Indiscretions (2011), a collection of short stories, and her award-winning Young Adult novel ...

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Catherine Noske reviews 'Datsunland' by Stephen Orr

Catherine Noske

Datsunland, a collection of short stories and the latest from Stephen Orr, is in many ways flawed. The collection is uneven: the final (titular) work is a novella previously published in a 2016 issue of Griffith Review, which overwhelms the earlier, shorter stories, exhibiting the depth and nuance which several others lack. The narratives and chara ... More

Bernadette Brennan reviews 'The Last Garden' by Eva Hornung

Bernadette Brennan

The epigraph to the first chapter of Eva Hornung’s The Last Garden speaks of Nebelung, a time of great prosperity, joy, and hope for new life. Over the page, Hornung shatters any sense of well-being with an extraordinary opening sentence: ‘On a mild Nebelung’s afternoon, Matthias Orion, having lived as an exclamation mark in the Wahrheit settlement an ... More

Anna MacDonald reviews 'This Water: Five tales' by Beverley Farmer

Anna MacDonald

There is a distinct poignancy attached to last things, a sense in which they encapsulate all that has gone before at the same time as they anticipate an end. In the moment of their first manifestation, last things are already haunted by their own absence. This Water: Five tales is the first book by Beverley Farmer to be published since 2005, and has been an ... More

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness' by Arundhati Roy

Kerryn Goldsworthy

Arundhati Roy’s first and only other novel was The God of Small Things (1997). It attracted an advance of half a million pounds; publishing rights were sold in twenty-one countries; and it won the 1997 Booker Prize, as it was then called. Since then it has sold six million copies and has been translated into forty languages. In the interval, Roy has been ... More

Anna MacDonald reviews 'See What I Have Done' by Sarah Schmidt

Anna MacDonald

In this gripping first novel, Sarah Schmidt re-imagines the lives of Lizzie Borden, her family, and the brutal double murder of her father and stepmother, for which Lizzie became notorious. Set in and around the Borden’s house at Fall River, Massachusetts, the narrative has a dense, claustrophobic air that feeds the portrayal of this family as menacingly close.

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Benjamin Chandler reviews 'All Fall Down' by Cassandra Austin

Benjamin Chandler

The collapse of a bridge is the catalyst in Cassandra Austin’s All Fall Down, isolating the small town of Mululuk in true Australian gothic fashion ...

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Crusader Hillis reviews 'Down the Hume' by Peter Polites

Crusader Hillis

Peter Polites’s first novel is remarkable in its power to evoke growing up caught between conflicting cultural and sexual identities. It tells the story of Bux, a gay man haunted by his addiction to painkillers, his abusive relationship with his drug-dealing bodybuilder boyfriend, his violent alcoholic Greek father, and a childhood where his sexuality and his trad ... More

Tessa Lunney reviews 'A Hundred Small Lessons' by Ashley Hay

Tessa Lunney

Hundred Small Lessons holds powerful truths, simply told. It is a story of parenthood and place, where small domestic moments, rather than dramatic public displays, are the links between people, the present a More

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