Weekend Round-Up #13

We're running a day late on this week's installment. Put it down to the Easter break: I was out of contact with the internet for a couple of days and couldn't make any postings. Standard sort of stuff.

I take it as pure co-incidence that I started reading a novel of Morris West's on the same weekend as Michael McGirr reviews the new West biography, Morris West: Literary Maverick by Maryanne Confoy, in the "Weekend Age". I thought of reading West's The Shoes of the Fisherman so I could get some inkling of what is in store when the current Pope shuffles off the world stage. And this review reveals that this novel of West's was published in 1963 on the day that Pope John XIII died. Lucky breaks are useful in the novellist's trade, and then to have the novel seemingly predict the election of John Paul II some 25 years later raised West's profile no end. But West was at his best in the 60s and 70s and he had lost his audience by the time of his death in 1999. All in all though, he ranks up there with John Cleary and Tom Keneally as an Australian novellist known round the world, and with Leon Uris and John Michener as a purveyor of "vast global narratives for a new breed of global travellers spawned by the '60s and the rise of the airport bookstore". So West is important in a modern world literature sense, as well as from an Australian context.

McGirr, though, starts his review with one of the strangest openings I've seen for a while: "It's a long time since I saw anybody reading a novel by Morris West on the bus. To be honest, as traffic gets worse and drivers grow more impatient, it's a long time since I saw anybody reading anything on the bus." I'd agree with the first sentence, but the second? Does he walk around blindfolded? I see people on the train reading all the time: everything from that book by Dan Brown to Kafka. I'll admit the reading fare on offer is more towards the left hand end of that scale, but people are actually reading. Maybe he needs to get out more.

The Long Game and Other Poems by Bruce Beaver was the poet's last collection, submitted to his publisher just before his death in February 2004. I've stated before that I'm not that up with modern poetry. Beaver's name is familiar to me though I doubt I could name a single poem or collection of his. Gig Ryan's review of this collection gives a short overview of the poet's work and praises him to the extent that it convinces me I really need to start educating myself in neglected literary areas. "Unlike most posthumous collections, The Long Game and Other Poems reads like an intentionally last book, piled with reflections on the poet's life and oeuvre. The title poem can be read as a paean to his marriage, with love for Beaver being the truth of life - 'The long ecstatic dance, the circling marathon'." Very fine indeed. And that's it for sizeable reviews of Australian books in "The Age" this weekend.

Others featured: the latest and last W.G. Sebald work Campo Santo, Men and Cartoons by Jonathan Lethem, and Faithful by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King about the 2004 season of the Boston Red Sox. Short notices are given to The Little Green Handbook by Ron Nielsen, The Cruel Legacy: The HMAS Voyager Tragedy by Tom Frame, and Odd Socks by Lisa Evans.

In "The Sunday Age" this week Jane Sullivan profiles Kris Hemensley who has recently been awarded the Christopher Brennan award by the Fellowship of Australian Writers. The annual award is made to an Australian poet who has displayed a body of work of "sustained quality and distinction". Hemensley is also the proprietor of the Collected Works bookstore in Swanston Street in the city of Melbourne.

In "The Courier-Mail" Matt Condon interviews Chris Nyst on the eve of the publication of his latest novel, Crook as Rookwood. Nyst is best known at this time as the scriptwriter for the David Wenham film, Gettin' Square, though he has also published two other legal thrillers: Cop This!, and Gone.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 28, 2005 8:26 PM.

Poem: The Editor's Regrets by Norman Campbell was the previous entry in this blog.

Kerry Greenwood Profile is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en