August 2017, issue no. 393
The American critic Adam Gopnik writes: ‘Nothing is more American than our will to make the enormous do the work of the excellent. We have googly eyes for gargantuan statements.’ Paul Auster’s long-awaited novel, 4321, is a gargantuan statement. At almost 900 pages, the sheer physical heft of it is impossible to ignore. When a novel is as thick as it ... More
Mount Barker, its surrounding environs and proliferating estates, might be situated in volcanic territory for all the ferocious eruptions of violence that occur in Rebekah Clarkson’s collection of stories, Barking Dogs. The demographic is noticeably white Australian. In ‘Dancing on Your Bones’, a loathsome consultant suggests the government develop the Summit ... More
Described as ‘modern literary noir’, Fiona Capp’s novel delves deeper into the psychology of its characters than most in the genre. The opening is sleek and pacey, as Capp guides us expertly through the central intrigue.
Ned is squatting in a boatshed on the Mornington Peninsula, having entrusted the investment of the sum of his and his sister’s inhe ... More
Wedding Bush Road is a novel about contrasts and conflicts: new-age America versus an old-fashioned Australia; messy rural versus shipshape urban; high status versus low; the past versus the present.
Expat Daniel Rawson is a successful lawyer in Los Angeles. He has been tempered by seven years of ‘California dreaming’; life is good. His graceful ... More
Kathryn Heyman’s novel, Storm and Grace, joins the recent proliferation of fiction by Australian women that deals with intimate partner violence. Like Zoë Morrison’s ...More
Goldie Goldbloom has an eye for the dramatic and the morbid. Her novel about the real-life love affair, beginning in 1904, between artists Gwen John and Auguste Rodin, thirty-six years her senior, begins with a list of seventeen women – including Camille Claudel, Isadora Duncan, and Lady Victoria Sackville-West – whom Rodin allegedly bedded. One, we learn, was h ... More
From the outside, America seems defined by its brutal polarities – political, racial, moral, economic, geographic. The Disunited States of America. From the inside, the picture is more complex; American life is not lived at these extremes, but in the murky, transitional spaces between them. George Saunders’s much-anticipated novel Lincoln in the Bardo i ... More
E.B. White once said there were three New Yorks, comprised of those who were born there (‘solidity and continuity’), the daily commuter (‘tidal restlessness’), and the searcher on More
The Birdman’s Wife is about passion, obsession, and ambition. Narrated by Elizabeth (Eliza) Gould, the novel relates her marriage to, and creative partnership with ...More
For the most part, the burgeoning 1980s nostalgia industry in Australia tends to overlook the fact that back then the states seemed to be engaged in a kind of Sheffield Shield ...More