Weekend Round-Up #7

In "The Age" on Saturday, Ken Gelder reviews The Best Australian Science Fiction Writing: A Fifty Year Collection edited by Rob Gerrand, which was released at the end of last year. Gelder does a pretty good job of the review even though he's a bit hamstrung by not having the extensive background of Bruce Gillespie, who reviewed the same collection in his fanzine Steam Engine Time 4 (PDF file!). I take a fair degree of issue with Gelder's statement that "Australia's best-known modern SF writer, A. Bertram Chandler, [had] an established international reputation by the 1970s." I don't quibble on the extent of Chandler's reputation but "best-known"? I'd suggest that might have held true in the 80s and not at any time since then. In fact, Chandler would hardly be known at all by the bulk of today's younger sf fans - more likely Greg Egan, Sean Williams or Sara Douglass. On the plus side, Gelder covers the anthology pretty well, emphasising the high points and using the abbreviation "SF", as opposed to the generally abusive "sciifi".

The novellist Joanna Murray-Smith takes some issue with Leslie Cannold's book What, No Baby? Why Women are Losing the Freedom to Mother, and How They Can Get It Back when she states that Cannold "never quite convinces me that the whole gamut f rational reasons why child-having is hard are to blame for women's reluctance 'commit' to their desires." I thought it was the blokes who weren't committing.

Short notices are lso given to Motherguilt by Ita Buttrose and Penny Adams ("...infuriating are the generalisations...and the unspoken assumptions..."), and The Plague of Quentaris by Gary Crew, ("a great publishing idea, well-executed").

Translators, that group of writers who only get noticed when they stuff things up, are profiled in a major piece in "The Age". I, for one, have noticed myself reading more books in translation over the past few years, with crime novels in particular, (from Sweden, Spain, France and Italy) becoming available for the first time. All in all, a good thing. Maybe it's just because I'm looking at "The Age's" Review section a little more closely that I'm starting to think it does a pretty good job. In addition to the above there are reviews of McEwan's Saturday, Sherry's The Life of Graham Greene Volume Three, and Belle de Jour's The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, and short notices of a number of other "foreign" works.

"The Weekend Australian" leads off its book review section with a major piece by Peter Craven concerning Sonya Hartnett's new novel Surrender. (The book is featured on the Penguin website front page at present but you may well have to dig down to find it later.) Craven was impressed with her previous novel Of a Boy and now feels that "she belongs to the handful of Australian writers who should command world attention." Getting that attention will be the trick of course. Craven ends his piece on a note that pretty much says it all:

If you read nothing else by an Australian this year, read Surrender - it is full of beauty and terror and unearthly poetry and it traces with something like love the beauty of youthful faces that must fade and die.
Butterfly Song by Terri Janke is reviewed by Brigid Delaney in "The Sydney Morning Herald". Well, it's more of a profile of the author - a first-time novelist - than a full review of the book. But enough is revealed to make the book one to look out for.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 13, 2005 5:11 PM.

2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize Regional Winners was the previous entry in this blog.

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