Weekend Round-Up #18

Jane Sullivan begins proceedings this week in "The Age" with her profile and interview of Geraldine Brooks. I guess you'd have to have been a hermit in Australia over the past month or so not to know that Brooks recently released her second novel March. And there appears to be more connections between her first and second novels than just having the same author: "People have been saying my two novels are so different, but to me they are linked in obvious ways," Brooks says. "Both are the story of a year; both are about what happens to love in a time of crisis; both are about different kinds of faith and strong ideas, and the blessing and the curse of the strong idea." But Sullivan uses the opportunity to explore Brooks's working life as a reporter in Kurdistan during a Kurdish uprising against the Iraqi government, through her first book, Nine Parts of Desire ("a look at the complex world of Islamic women through their own thoughts and experiences"), to being thrown into jail in Nigeria, to her bout with breast cancer and her recent successful foray into the world of novel-writing. A pretty good profile overall by Sullivan, letting Brooks do the bulk of the talking and imposing little of herself into the piece.

Brenda Niall, biographer of the artistic and literary Boyd family, reviews a biography in The Unusual Life of Enid Walling by Sara Hardy. Walling was an eccentric garden designer in Melbourne from the 1930s but this "new biography of this remarkable woman makes it clear that we will never know how many supposed Walling gardens are the real thing." Niall finds that Hardy has done a good job of the biography of a woman who was ahead of her time. "Hardy's biography is at its best in showing in a day-by-day narrative how a seemingly unplanned professional life grew in scope and importance."

James Wolfensohn was, until recently, president of the World Bank. Not bad for a boy from Sydney who was the son of Jewish emigres. Leon Gettler gets to grips with Wolfensohn's biography in The World's Banker by "Washington Post" columnist Sebastian Mallaby. As is usual with these blokes that get to the top, there is more to the man than meets the eye: "Wolfensohn approached development with the same passion that made him a successful Wall Street merchant banker, a member of Australia's fencing team in the 1956 Olympics and a successful cellist. He was a skilled relationship banker who could give his clients the impression that his mind was heading in exactly the same direction as theirs and who was bristling with ideas to help them."

Short notices are given to: Picturesque Pursuits: Colonial Woman Artists & the Amateur Tradition by Caroline Jordan, "Jordan's mission is to ensure that the paintings and letters of the colonial women artists are not forgotten. Her scholarly and highly readable book, teeming with colour plates and prints, reveals a rich seam in our history"; Dancing with the Devil by Amy Norman, a memoir of life with an abusive husband, "Norman's writing is serviceable rather than skillful, but this is an honest account"; Remnants by Nigel Featherstone, "more a noble failure than a failure full stop"; All Fall Down by Susan Geason, "comes close to creating an independent, memorable book"; A Merciful Journey: Recollections of a World War II Patrol Boat Man by Marsden Hordern, "no matter how well written...will appeal most to those who have an existing interest in maritime and/or military history"; and Black and White Together by Sue Taffe, this "excellent book has the immediacy that comes from personal contact with many of the people involved...and is well written to

Robyn Davidson, best known as the author of Tracks, returns home after spending 25 years living an international nomadic existence, and is interviewed by Rosemary Neill in "The Weekend Australian". So why has she come home: "I found it just too demanding to be trying to balance three countries and pretend that each home had equal rights to my time. In the end, it just gets very difficult to live that way." In addition to finding a place to actually call home, Davidson has a new project underway on the concept of nomadism which she is developing under an H.C. Coombs Creative Writing Fellowship at the Australian National University.

Kilroy Was Here by Kris Olsson is the major Australian work reviewed by "The Weekend Australian". It is the biography of "a 44-year-old Brisbane ex-prisoner with tatts and a torn-off wedding finger: Debbie Kilroy, nee Harding, that rare and blessed creature among women, born with a phenomenal will to power, an impressively violent temperament, a craving for excitement and energy enough to sustain a regiment in full battle gear."

Also reviewed in "The Weekend Australian": Damien Marrett, ex-undercover policeman, tells his story in Undercover: "It is tighter and better written than many such offerings"; Absurdistan by Eric Campbell, the ABC reporter whose colleague, Australian cameraman Paul Moran, was killed in the first few days of the Iraq War; The Essential Carmel Bird by Carmel Bird which was covered here in more detail a few weeks back; and Vincenzo's Garden by John Clanchy, whose "stories are taut, almost transparent on the surface, with description taking second place to action".

ABC radio journalist, Ian Townsend, has written his first novel Affection about a plague in northern Queensland at the start of the 20th century. He is interviewed by Guy Mosel in this weekend's "Courier-Mail". Townsend gets to the heart of the difficulties involved in a first novel: "It's very hard to write a book...I had to give up fishing and drinking . . . a huge sacrifice."

There is something about the soil, water, gardens and greenery that strikes a chord in a lot of us, so it is hardly surprising that Kate Llewellyn's new book Watering the Garden has already gone for a reprint. The book, and its author, are profiled this week by Caroline Baum in "The Sydney Morning Herald". "She knows that the secret lies in the pruning." Exactly. I just wish more writers were aware of it.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 2, 2005 9:55 AM.

Death of Sara Henderson (1936 - 2005) was the previous entry in this blog.

The Latest Meme 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