December 2016, issue no. 387

Josephine Taylor reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2015' edited by Amanda Lohrey

Josephine Taylor

In Jo Case's 'Something Wild', young single mother Kristen is tempted to rediscover 'the thrill of doing what she feels like, just to see what happens'. She could be speaking for characters in many of the pieces in The Best Australian Stories 2015, a collection that features people on the verge of transgression. As Amanda Lohrey writes in her introduction, ... More

Sarah Holland-Batt reviews 'The High Places' by Fiona McFarlane

Sarah Holland-Batt

Towards the end of Fiona McFarlane's enigmatic collection of short stories, The High Places, we meet the odd, enchanting story 'Good News for Modern Man', which functions as a key to many of the book's concerns. The story centres around Dr Bill Birch, a malacologist undertaking an obsessive study of a colossal female squid, Mabel, which he has trapped in Ne ... More

Brigid Magner reviews 'The Mountain Shadow' by Gregory David Roberts

Brigid Magner

Devoted fans have been awaiting the sequel to Gregory David Roberts's cult classic Shantaram for twelve years. A bestselling book in Australia and overseas, Shantaram centres on Lin, an escaped Australian criminal who becomes a Bombay gangster. Loosely based on the author's own life, Shantaram encouraged an intriguing frisson between the w ... More

Craig Billingham reviews 'Cloudless' by Christine Evans

Craig Billingham

Cloudless is the first verse novel from Christine Evans, a Australian playwright now resident in Washington, D.C., where she is a member of faculty at Georgetown University. Set in Perth in the 1980s, after 'the late seventies / when Bondy ruled the roost', but twenty years prior to the mining boom, Cloudless relates the story of eight characters w ... More

Josephine Taylor reviews 'The Hands' by Stephen Orr

Josephine Taylor

The Wilkie family has farmed cattle at the edge of the desert for 130 years. When catastrophe strikes, three generations of men must wrestle with secrets from the past and the present. The decision whether or not to continue on a failing station becomes critical; definitive action no less testing.

The subtitle juxtaposes elegy and irony: though some characte ... More

Jenni Kauppi reviews 'The Sleepers Almanac X' edited by Zoe Dattner and Louise Swinn

Jenni Kauppi

In more than ten years on the scene, Sleepers has positioned itself as both champion of the small press sector – the natural home of the short story – and a canny player in the broader publishing landscape; its Almanac has been a reliable litmus test for the direction of new Australian writing.

In this instalment, several absurdist and satirical works are stacked into the c ... More

Chris Flynn reviews 'Abacus' by Louis Armand

Chris Flynn

Abacus is Prague-based Australian author and poet Louis Armand's seventh novel, his fifth in as many years. Such a prolific work rate is admirable, but in telling a story which covers the entirety of the twentieth century, as seen through the eyes of ten disparate ... More

Barnaby Smith reviews 'List of the Lost' by Morrissey

Barnaby Smith

Like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, Morrissey is among the relatively few figures in popular music deemed worthy of serious academic attention. Scholarly theses on Morrissey are common, dissecting the poetic cadence and social relevance of his remarkable song lyrics, from The Smiths' self-titled début album of 1984 to more recent solo albums. It is not surprising, th ... More

Claudia Hyles reviews 'Flood of Fire' by Amitav Ghosh

Claudia Hyles

Amitav Ghosh has spent more than ten years writing the Ibis trilogy, his fictional account of the turbulent years leading to the First Opium War of 1839–42. Flood of Fire follows Sea of Poppies (2008) and River of Smoke (2011). It is unnecessary to have read the earlier books, though reuniting with some of the characters is enjo ... More

Georgia Blain reviews 'Six Bedrooms' by Tegan Bennett Daylight

Georgia Blain

The best short stories are like a glimpse into a room as you rush past in a train – the messy kitchen table, an empty handbag, the perfectly made bed – a snapshot with enough detail to suggest so much more.

In Six Bedrooms, Tegan Bennett Daylight takes us into the world of growing up, of desire and shame, and of repeatedly making mistakes. She k ... More

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