March 2017, issue no. 389
Not a year passes without someone claiming to have stumbled upon the legendary Tasmanian tiger. A flash of stripes, a tawny blur, strange paw prints in the mud; are these genuine sightings or mass hallucinations suffered by a populace whose grief for the extinct icon is stuck in a state of collective denial? 'Tassie loves the tiger now ... this entire country is goi ... More
It has been two hundred and seventy-six years since Pamela was published, the first piece of writing in English in the novel form; it was a structure designed both to entertain and instruct, and still we are debating if the concept was a good idea.
Inga Simpson is the author of two previous novels, Mr Wigg (2013) and More
Jennifer Down's first novel, Our Magic Hour, is notable for its stylistic individuality. The novel's opening is disorientating at first: Audrey wears a shirt whose 'sleeves swallowed her hands'; spaghetti bolognese 'spatters' on a stove; a football match 'bellows' from a television. This is an object-rich terrain, in which the details provide cues to interp ... More
I first encountered the work of Philip Salom in the pages of The Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry (1991). Anthologies, of course, have their limitations, but they can be a great place to meet people. Salom's first poem in that book, 'Walking at Night', includes an image of the urban sky: 'Streetlights glow overhead / Like the teeth of a huge zipper; ... More
Twenty years before Katniss Everdeen competed in The Hunger Games (2008) and dominated the post-apocalyptic landscape, Elspeth Gordie went to Obernewtyn (1987) in her own ruined world. She would grow from orphan outcast to rebel conspirator and community leader, overthrowing religious and secular powers and carrying a darker fate as the Seeker who ... More
Michau-Crawford's accomplished début collection bears comparison to Tim Winton's impressionistic The Turning (2005) and Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge (2008), though Leaving Elvis is properly neither the portrait of place nor of a single character. The place might be any dilapidated small town in the wheat-belt region of Western Australia. Th ... More
Crow is wild. His black eyes glint and his beak seems to smile. Malicious and mischievous, he sits in a living room with two boys and their father wrapped in his wings. The woman who was their mother and wife has died, leaving the family 'like Earth in that extraordinary picture of the planet surrounded by a thick belt of space junk'.
Crow is the titular bir ... More
Edna O'Brien, in a recent interview, recalled being stuck for a plot. It was a filmmaker's remark about Tolstoy that sparked her latest novel, The Little Red Chairs: '[Charlie McCarthy] said, "Tolstoy said there are only two great stories in the world. A Man on a Journey, or A Stranger Comes to Town." And at that moment I thought, I've got it. I'm going to ... More
'Why do we write?' asks David Brooks at the start of this exhilarating collection of short stories. 'What are we groping for?' The entire collection seems like an attempt to answer a question that the author acknowledges is unanswerable. Yet there is no futility here. His groping, as he calls it, charms and disturbs and conjures up images of extraordinary, if fleeti ... More
There is something alluring about the publication of a lost or unknown literary manuscript. How will it fit into the author's body of work? Is it inferior to or better than the published work? Does it illuminate a hitherto unknown aspect of the author's thinking, or make you re-examine the known sequencing or themes? These questions were on my mind as I read Fea ... More