March 2015, issue no. 369

Alex Cothren reviews 'An Elegant Young Man'

Alex Cothren

Late in his first collection of anecdotal short stories, Luke Carman’s narrator, also named Luke Carman, realises that the magic in a book he loves, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, cannot be replicated in his own life. He is stuck in Australia, and ‘Australia is not the place for ecstatic truth.’ Stuck, to be precise, in Sydney’s western suburbs, ... More

Ray Cassin reviews 'Infamy'

Ray Cassin

Infamy comes packaged with a blurb declaring it to be an Australian western, and a testimonial from Malcolm Knox, who compares this evocation of the hellish convict colony of Van Diemen’s Land in the 1830s with the imaginative achievements of Martin Scorsese. Neither claim is quite right. Bartulin’s narrative style does have affinities ... More

Michael McGirr reviews 'The Colonials'

Michael McGirr

Brian Fitzpatrick – a notable historian, intellectual, and civil libertarian – was a prominent Melbourne figure in the middle of the twentieth century. He died in 1965 and survives partly as the central figure in Sheila Fitzpatrick’s poignant memoir My Father’s Daughter (2010), an affectionate and yet painfully honest book. It describes Fitzpatr ... More

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Down in the City'

Susan Sheridan

Elizabeth Harrower’s début novel was first published by Cassell in London in 1957. Down in the City begins with a hymn to Sydney, with its beaches, harbour suburbs, city arcades – and disreputable Kings Cross, ‘a haven for the foreigner and racketeer; a beacon for long-haired boys, mascaraed women and powdered men. It is Montmartre: it is bright ... More

Kathryn Koromilas reviews 'The Antibiography of Robert F. Menzies'

Kathryn Koromilas

‘Above the line’, a narrator begins a story. At a specific moment in time, a specific fictional character appears and something is about to happen. ‘Below the line’, another narrator begins a different story, a story in notes, footnotes, ‘citational backup’ for the story ‘above’. You have begun reading Bernard Cohen’s new novel: a work in sto ... More

Jen Webb reviews 'The Goldfinch'

Jen Webb

Donna Tartt has produced just one novel a decade so far: The Secret History, which came out in 1992 to enormous success; The Little Friend, ten years later, which barely rippled the surface of the literary world; and now The Goldfinch, which I suspect will achieve at least the standing of her first novel. Her novels possess a signature of sorts: ... More

The Goldfinch

Jen Webb

Donna Tartt has produced just one novel a decade so far: The Secret History, which came out in 1992 to enormous success; The Little Friend, ten years later, which barely rippled the surface of the literary world; and now The Goldfinch, which I suspect will achieve at least the standing of her first novel. Her novels possess a signature of sorts: ... More

Jay Daniel Thompson on 'How to Tell Your Father to Drop Dead'

Jay Daniel Thompson

The title of Jeremy Fisher’s latest tome is deceptive. This reviewer expected a zany children’s book. Actually, How to Tell Your Father to Drop Dead is a subdued look at masculinity in Australian history. The text comprises autobiographical fragments and short stories. Fisher recalls growing up in a culture where homosexuality was ‘invisibl ... More

Sara Savage reviews 'Banana Girl'

Sara Savage

Writing a memoir at the age of thirty may seem like an exercise in self-indulgence: what wisdom could one possibly impart amid the universal tumultuousness of the Saturn Return? Seemingly aware of the predicament, the author of Banana Girl doesn’t pretend to deliver any answers, her memoir instead giving a more immediate snapshot into the life of a tw ... More

Ray Cassin reviews 'Watching You'

Ray Cassin

Ever since Raymond Chandler decreed in The Simple Art of Murder (1950) that ‘Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid’, writers of hard-boiled crime fiction have queued up to take a shot at creating a hero who is less of a paragon than Chandler’s prescription and therefore supposedly ... More

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