Weekend Round-Up #8

"The Age" this week kicks off with reviews of two Australian books: one fiction and one non-fiction. Mary Bryant:Her Life and Escape from Botany Bay, by Jonathan King, is reviewed by Neil Hanson who is rather disappointed in the volume: "The story of Bryant's escape, re-imprisonment and eventual pardon in the shadow of the gallows is sufficiently dramatic not to need embellishment. King's reinvention of her is inaccurate as history and inadequate as fiction and after all that she went through, Mary Bryant surely deserved better." Mary Bryant was sentenced to seven years' penal servitude, and arrived in Australia with the First Fleet. She and her husband, two children and seven other convicts stole Governor Phillip's 30-foot cutter and sailed it to Timor, some 5200 kilometres in 10 weeks: one of the world's great sea voyages. It's a remarkable story, and, if Hanson is correct and King's book doesn't cut the mustard, then it is very disappointing.

Following Peter Craven's rave review of Surrender by Sonya Hartnett last week, Dianne Dempsey finds herself in agreement, though at much shorter length. I was a bit annoyed with this review. It starts off by examining themes Surrender has in common with the author's earlier work but doesn't delve into those themes in enough depth. I get the feeling a sub-editor hacked this review down to size. Craven's piece last week flagged this novel as a major Australian fiction event for 2005, and I reckon it needed more space to do it justice.

The only other Australian books mentioned are short notices given to Pathway to Reason by Ken Harris, a novel set in an Australian Republic in the year 2020; and Habourlights by Gavin Wilson, an examination of the artist Peter Kingston. Other reviews in "The Age" this week: Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt; Who the Hell's in It? Portraits and Conversations by Peter Bogdanovitch; and The Pope in Winter: The Dark Side of John Paul II's Papacy by John Cornwell. The major article deals with Hans Christian Andersen, and is reprinted from the "Telegraph" in the UK.

It's Saturday day this weekend over at "The Weekend Australian" (sorry couldn't resist). There's a profile of McEwan, a review and an extract - but did we really need three pages? We all know that the book is going to be a big event so I doubt it needs the push along from "The Weekend Australian". The space might have been better used for something else. By the way, if you're sick of wall-to-wall praise for Saturday check out this post. A thoughful, incisive review if ever I read one. (Thanks to Conversational Reading for the link.)

The only Australian novel to be reviewed in "The Weekend Australian" is Terri Janke's Butterfly Song.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 20, 2005 7:44 PM.

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