Weekend Round-Up #28

"The Age" has let Peter Craven loose to review Kate Grenville's new novel, The Secret River, and, as you might expect he delivers a pretty good review. He covers Grenville's literary history, delivers an appraisal of her standing in the Australian literary pantheon, and then gets into the book.

He places her pretty much as one might expect: "Grenville is one of the very best of our mid-career novelists though her output suggests occasional zigzags and moments of uncertainty. She is a writer with a rich palette and with a natural affinity for the sensuous and the sensual and for highly coloured drama." And the book: "Kate Grenville has written a fine novel of colonial life and of the tragedy of the confrontation between Aborigine and white settler. The book traces a familiar curve but its characters have real faces and voices."

Craven doesn't go deeply into the possible historical interpretations that Jane Sullivan covered last week but concludes that "It is to Kate Grenville's credit that she never surrenders her sense of the individual faces she captures as she tells this story. I suspect a lot of readers are going to find this book both subtle and satisfying." A major Australian publishing event for 2005 it seems.

The story of Mark Latham is something of a modern tragedy: taking the Federal Labor leadership after Crean saw the writing on the wall and quit, he changed his electioneering style to tone it down to his and his party's detriment, then lost the 2004 Federal Election after attempting to run it on his own, after which he was struck down with a crippling medical complaint. His subsequent resignation from parliament and vitriolic blame shifting have sullied his image in many voters' minds - this one included. Now comes Loner: Inside a Labor Tragedy by Bernard Lagan, reviewed by Michelle Grattan, political editor of "The Age". "Whitlam had much influence over a successor who'd been his staffer. The man who had campaigned on the theme of the needs of the suburbs and led Labor out of the wilderness in 1972 was an inspiration and father figure to Latham. But Whitlam could not pass on his quality for success, nor his grace in defeat." Exactly.

A new history of Australia? Do we really need one? John Molony has produced Australia: Our Heritage which is reviewed by Stuart McIntyre. "His story is one of tribulation and courage, conflict and healing, a striving for improvement and wisdom that falters only as we approach the present."

Short notices are given to: Trade Secrets: Australian Actors & Their Craft by Terence Crawford: "Crawford homes in on the practicalities of acting - the processes or methods that work best for each actor"; The armchair Footy Record: For Planes, Trains & Favourite Rooms edited by Jim Main: "There's a laugh on just about every page in what amounts to a kind of potted history of the game"; Being There: Nursing at the Melbourne, Victoria's First Hospital by Susan Sherson: "...a valuable book that preserves the ethos of nursing at the Melbourne in a comprehensive and moving manner."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 11, 2005 9:04 PM.

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