Weekend Round-Up #6

It's a foreign menu over at "The Age" on Saturday with all major reviews dealing with non-Australian books. On the Australian front a short review is given to The Goddamn Bus of Happiness by Stefan Laszczuk in the Fiction column by Cameron Whitehead: "Laszczuk's potent realism and strong charcaterisation, together with his dramatic acumen, make this an impressive debut...". This book won the 2004 Adelaide Festival Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript.

In Fiona Capp's Non-Fiction column, brief notes are contributed on Discoveries: The Voyages of Captain Cook by Nicholas Thomas - "combines the intimate appeal of a biography with the broader issues of anthropology and post-colonial theory"; and the periodical "Meanjin: Shrinks" - "it is impossible to do justice to the outstanding variety and substance of this issue in a short review". In the History section Lorien Kaye discusses Welcome & Farewell: The Story of Station Pier by Jill Barnard, a coffee-table history book commissioned by the Victorian State overnment. And in the Satire section Dianne Dempsey gives a short review to 1788 Words or Less: A Short History of Australia by Malcolm Knox, finding it a bit of a lame attempt at humour that falls well short.

I'm not sure if the lineup in this week's "Age" reflects current publishing schedules in Australia or not, but the lack of Australian titles under review is starting to look like a attern. To be fair, the review pages cover a fair cross-section of world literature: a profile of Haruki Murakami; reviews of 2 non-fiction titles about the war and the nation-building in Iraq, The Naked Woman by Desmond Morris, The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates, The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck, The Darling by Russell Banks, and Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta. All quite worthy titles. So I'm probably just asking for too much.

On the other hand, "The Weekend Australian" features a two-page review/profile of No Trace by Barry Maitland, which is very welcome, and on their webpage as well which is a bonus. This is the eighth of Maitland's Brock and Kolla novels - hard-boiled London police procedurals. The review is by actor and "Australian" crime-fiction reviewer Graeme Blundell and he has a nice turn of phrase:

Murderers fascinate us and a murder mystery plays on our desire for a story that takes us out of ourselves, offering sometimes-scray realisations about the link between pleasure and horror. The crime novelist takes horrors and converts them into something pleasing to him and meaningful to others.
Blundell is very impressed with the work, finding that Maitland is writing as well as anyone else in the genre. And Maitland? He likes "the idea of the crime story as a sort of quest for the truth which gets revealed gradually in layers, and never completely until the very end." On the basis of this review alone he looks like someone I'm going to have to check out.

Last week I mentioned the self-published memoirs of Don Chipp, wondering at why no Australian publisher had decided to pick up the book. This week in "The Weekend Australian" Helen Elliott profiles Don Jordon (known internationally for inventing the Jordon Lifting Frame) who has decided to self-publish his second novel: the first was written when he was 16 (unpublished) and this second at the age of 92. We are probably never going to know but I wonder if Jordon submitted Brown Snake River to any local publishers. No, what am I thinking? He's 92 with white hair. He wouldn't stand a chance.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 6, 2005 4:46 PM.

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