December 2016, issue no. 387

Luke Horton reviews 'Ghost River' by Tony Birch

Luke Horton

With Ghost River, Tony Birch returns to a world he has delineated over many short stories and in his first novel, the Miles Franklin-shortlisted Blood (2011): the world of adolescents living on the margins. Invariably in trouble and in unstable family envi ... More

Bernadette Brennan reviews 'A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories' by Elizabeth Harrower

Bernadette Brennan

It is gratifying to witness the renewal of interest in Elizabeth Harrower's fiction. Last year, ...

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Susan Sheridan reviews 'The Women's Pages' by Debra Adelaide

Susan Sheridan

In this beautifully crafted novel, two parallel stories merge. Chapters alternate between Ellis, a young woman living in Sydney in the 1960s, and Dove, a thirty-eight-year-old woman in the present day. As the novel begins, Ellis is contemplating leaving her husband and taking her baby son with her; Dove is mourning the death of her adoptive mother – and writing a ... More

Kevin Rabalais reviews 'Scorper' by Rob Magnuson Smith

Kevin Rabalais

For the most part, we move among books with ease, passing from one writer's prose to another without having to adjust the frequency of our inner ear. We detect shifts in style and sensibility, sure, but as readers we open ourselves to such a wide harmonic range that, should multiple books arrive on our lap with the authors' names deleted, we could segue from page to ... More

Cassandra Atherton reviews 'Feet to the Stars' by Susan Midalia

Cassandra Atherton

Susan Midalia's Feet to the Stars references Sylvia Plath's poem 'You're', in which Plath addresses her unborn child: 'Clownlike, happiest on your hands, / Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled, / Gilled like a fish ...' This clever title foreshadows Midalia's exploration of children in the family dynamic and the use of intertextuality, which are integral to ... More

Luke Horton reviews 'The Story of the Lost Child' by Elena Ferrante

Luke Horton

Over the last year, Italian enigma Elena Ferrante has become one of the most passionately advocated literary sensations of our time. Enigma, because 'Elena Ferrante' is a pseudonym and no one other than her publisher knows her identity, Ferrante had published several novels before the Neapolitan series, but it is this cycle of four novels, culminating in The Sto ... More

Susan Lever reviews 'The Natural Way of Things' by Charlotte Wood

Susan Lever

In an isolated hut in the countryside, a young woman wakes from a drug-induced sleep to discover that she is dressed in a nineteenth-century smock. She soon finds another young woman in the same condition, and both are forced to submit to the shaving of their heads. It is contemporary Australia: kookaburras cackle outside. Are they in a prison, or a religious cult, ... More

Jane Sullivan reviews 'Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights' by Salman Rushdie

Jane Sullivan

Kazuo Ishiguro recently sparked off a literary row about whether 'serious' writers should dabble in fantasy when he insisted rather too strongly that he was not writing fantasy in his latest novel The Buried Giant (2015). All those giants and pixies, knights and d ... More

Naama Amram reviews 'Leap' by Myfanwy Jones

Naama Amram

Set in Melbourne’s cafés, under its bridges, behind its laundromats, and within its zoo, Leap is a contemporary Australian novel about love and loss. It entwines the narratives of Joe, whose guilt over the accidental death of his high-school girlfriend drives him to work dead-end jobs and train furiously in the art of Parkour, and Elise, a recently s ... More

Rose Lucas reviews 'The Lost Swimmer' by Ann Turner

Rose Lucas

The Lost Swimmer is a novel full of movement, colour, and complex plot threads. Although this is her first novel, Ann Turner’s experience as a significant Australian film director and screenwriter has given her a tight grasp on the unfolding of narrative in sharply realise ... More

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