November 2015, issue no. 376

Shannon Burns reviews 'Three Stories' by J.M. Coetzee

Shannon Burns

Each fiction in this small but handsome volume emerges from an interesting, perhaps even ‘transitional’ phase in J.M. Coetzee’s writing life: between the publication of Disgrace (1999) and Slow Man (2005); before and after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003. The first story in the collection also predates Coetzee’s move to Adelaid ... More

Ruth Starke reviews 'South of Darkness' by John Marsden

Ruth Starke

It is sobering to think that the thousands of teenagers who in 1987 eagerly devoured John Marsden’s first novel, So Much To Tell You, and sent it and the author spinning into bestsellerdom are now in their forties – and as such, the target readership for his first adult novel, South of Darkness, a transportation saga that covers some familiar groun ... More

Francesca Sasnaitis reviews 'Australian Love Stories', edited by Cate Kennedy

Francesca Sasnaitis

You are perfect for this story. I will never meet you.’ We are invited into Australian Love Stories and into Bruce Pascoe’s erotic reverie with this line from ‘Dawn’. The reader is embraced, as the luxuriating eye of Pascoe’s narrator embraces the recumbent body of the woman beside him. His gaze is illicit, touch forbidden. We are privileged voyeurs ... More

Morag Fraser reviews 'Stone Mattress' by Margaret Atwood

Morag Fraser

One swallow doesn’t make a summer, as the stark proverb cautions, but a cockatoo flocking of short stories suggests that the form is perhaps enjoying a revival – and the publishing industry has seized an opportunity. As it should.

In 2013, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature, lauded as ‘the master of the contemporary short story’. Edna O ... More

Helen Garner's return to fiction

Peter Rose

The Spare Room marks Helen Garner’s return to fiction after a long interval. Since Cosmo Cosmolino (1992), she has concentrated on non-fiction and journalism: newspaper columns and feature articles. She has speculated in public about her distance from fiction, while giving us The First Stone (1995) – an account of an incident at a Melbourn ... More

Paul Carter reviews 'Game Day'

Paul Carter

Miriam Sved’s début novel is a structurally innovative portrait of élite Australian football as a juggernaut that leaves lives scrambling and spent in its wake. Its fourteen stories, each told from a different narrative perspective, form a prismatic study of a single season in the lives of Mick Reece and Jake Dooley, two first-year recruit ... More

Carol Middleton reviews 'Nest'

Carol Middleton

Inga Simpson’s second novel is set in the lush subtropical hinterland of Australia’s east coast. Jen, a reclusive artist, goes back to where she grew up and where her father was a timber-cutter, to find peace among the birds and trees. But mysteries and disappearances trouble her idyllic life.

Like her artist protagonist, Simpson has acute powers of obse ... More

Dean Biron reviews 'Beams Falling'

Dean Biron

Beams Falling is a good example of its kind: a sweaty, grimy Sydney-based noir. I wish that were higher praise, but there is an endless procession of local crime fiction out there – much of which seems to emanate from Sydney – and the competition has not set the bar overly high.

... More

Rachel Robertson reviews 'Riding a Crocodile'

Rachel Robertson

There is a long tradition of physicians turned writers, including Chekhov, Keats, Conan Doyle, and Somerset Maugham. More recent doctor–novelists include Alexander McCall Smith, Michael Crichton, and Khaled Hosseini. In Australia, Peter Goldsworthy is probably our most prominent writer–physician, with John Murray and now Paul Komesaroff joining the tradition.


Luke Horton reviews 'Boyhood Island'

Luke Horton

In Boyhood Island, the third volume in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s internationally acclaimed My Struggle cycle, we are taken back to where the series began: an island in southern Norway, seven-year-old Karl Ove and his older brother Yngve live under the tyranny of a cruel and taciturn father in the mid-1970s. Unlike the first volume, A Death in the Fami ... More

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