Laura Elvery

Susan Midalia reviews 'Ordinary Matter' by Laura Elvery

Susan Midalia
Monday, 17 August 2020

Laura Elvery’s second short story collection, Ordinary Matters, shows the same talent for precise observation, pathos, and humour as her accomplished début collection, Trick of the Light (2018). It differs in its creation of a greater range of narrators and voices, and in its use of a specific ideological framework through which to unify the collection: each of its twenty stories is prefaced by the name of a Nobel Prize-winning female scientist and the ‘prize motivation’ for her award. This device might be read as subverting the sexist stereotype that, denying women the capacity for rational thought, consigns them to the ‘softer’ realms of emotion and artistic endeavour. It also encourages an interesting way of thinking about female desire as it pertains to a range of experiences, including creativity, ambition, motherhood, sexuality, and political activism.

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Surely Mandy and Tim have met before. Floundering during her gap year, Mandy mostly watches daytime television and works at a sandwich shop. Tim, who is repeating Year Twelve under the guardianship of his uncle, tries to deal with teachers and assignments, and to move on from a nightmare year. Both characters are effusive about their love of music.

Mandy and ...

Laura Elvery reviews 'Laurinda' by Alice Pung

Laura Elvery
Monday, 30 March 2015

Lucy Lam is a studious pupil at a multicultural Melbourne Catholic school. Her mother minds the baby at home and sews high-end chain store clothing in the garage, while her father toils at a hazardous carpet factory. With dreams of following a different path, Lucy sits an exam for Laurinda, an exclusive ladies’ college, and is awarded the inaugural Equal Access sc ...

Laura Elvery reviews three new YA fiction titles

Laura Elvery
Wednesday, 28 August 2013

 The relationships between daughters and their mothers provide fascinating, fertile ground for exploration. Mothers in books are sitting ducks, really, and these three new Young Adult books take aim. One mother is a cavalier, emotionally blackmailing bank robber; another is adored, but nosy and old-fashioned; while the third, obsessed with or ...

Laura Elvery reviews 'City' by James Roy

Laura Elvery
Monday, 28 January 2013

James Roy’s cover blurb suggests that ‘everyone has a story’. The awkward thing is that some are better than others. In his new book, young characters are linked by stories and poems that criss-cross an unnamed city. It acts as a companion piece to Roy’s successful Town (2007), which contained thirteen tales from regional New South Wales. In City

Laura Elvery reviews 'Into that Forest' by Louis Nowra

Laura Elvery
Monday, 26 November 2012

 The world’s last known Tasmanian tiger died in Hobart Zoo in 1936. Surviving film footage of the marsupial is brief. No sound recordings exist of a thylacine’s bark or cough. Its extinction is one of Australia’s most lamentable tales. Nowra’s sad, dark novel imagines how these carnivores could care for two children lost in the wilderness.


A midnight birth on a Friday is the first suggestion that Barnaby Brocket is not an ordinary arrival. Seconds later, baby Barnaby slips through the doctor’s hands and floats towards the ceiling. For his parents, Eleanor and Alistair, life until this point has been satisfyingly normal, with ‘no time for people who were unusual or who made a show of themselves in public’. Barnaby’s airbor ...

In Ruby Moon’s family, the colour red is associated with shame, sin, death, and – much later – love, triumph, and happiness. Creative, introverted Ruby (nicknamed ‘Button’ after swallowing one as a child) is twin to daring Sally. Ruby describes them as one moth: ‘two wings grown from the same beginning.’ Two halves, not yet formed.