Weekend Round-Up #35

In "The Age" the major piece is a profile of Western Australian novelist Brenda Walker and her fourth novel The Wing of Night. Although this is a novel set in and after World War I it deals more with the relationships of the people at the time, "full of intense, though not always passionate, love: love between men and women, and the friendship between the women the men left behind. It's also about restoring what is lost: but the restitution may be something quite unexpected." The men-at-war theme is given an airing, but "Walker's men are not the square-jawed Chesty Bond heroes of legend, the women are not what you might expect either, and they leave a legacy that she describes as 'the bright emptiness that lasts for a long, long time after a war'. She says there is something desolate about the well-lit spaces of the countryside, inhabited by women who have lost what they most cherished: 'Women with empty arms forever, except for one another.'"

Peter Pierce reviews Brian Castro's ninth novel, The Garden Book, and finds it a "triumph of intelligence and imagination by one of the most exacting, yet rewarding of Australian novelists, and when the mood is on him, one of the most amusing as well."

Also reviewed are The Magician's Son by Sandy McCutcheon, and Fivestar by Mardi McConnochie: "At times this is not so much a novel as a fictionalised social history of recent pop music trends. That said, it's well informed, knowledgeable and very competently written. Taking us back where we've been recently, at its best it gives the kind of small Prousty twinges of nostalgia that you get when looking at five-year-old photos."

Short notices are given to: Melbourne International Arts Festival, 1986-2005: The First Twenty Years by Paul Clarkson; Beyond the Call by Don Hyde with Jim Main, a collection of interviews with AFL commentators; A Long Way Home: The Life and Adventures of Convict Mary Bryant by Mike Walker: "Eighteenth-century England, her powerful navy and the colonisation of Australia are brilliantly realised by Mike Walker, a British dramatist and documentary maker"; Fat, Forty and Fired by Nigel Marsh, who: "...has a chatty, confiding voice, self-absorbed and self-deprecating"; 1932: A Hell of a Year by Gerald Stone: 1932 "was a year of big events but most of all it was the worst year of the Great Depression, and the year that marked the beginning of Australia's recovery"; Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs - She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whorehouse by Paul Carter: "What you have here, then, is that rare situation of somebody who not only has a story to tell but the ability to tell it. Carter's anecdotes are told with great good humour and perfect timing."

The Weekend Australian" features an excerpt from J.M. Coetzee's latest novel Slow Man. The book who is also reviewed by Karen Lamb: "...Slow Man balances its sympathies on a knife-edge and it is not easy to dispense with [the main] character. Perhaps he is complicated, lost, unloved or just unlucky. It is clear that he is slow - yes - but we also see him disappearing not so much from the world, but from within. Was he ever there, we ask? Sadly, Coetzee does not invite us to condemn him utterly for not finding the answers."

Bill Leak, cartoonist for "The Australian" and noted portraitist, has released his first novel, Heart Cancer, and it is reviewed by Ross Fitzgerald.

Short notices are given to: Sandstone by Stephen Lacey who "uses brand names too often as proof of his research: the real period register in this fine novel resides in the emotional encasement of its characters"; Lethal Metal by Harry Ledowsky which "coalesces into a yarn with Clancy-like pace. In his fiction debut, Sydney advertising guru Ledowsky presses the formula buttons, but that's no sin. Sometimes it's all we want"; Noble Sindhu Horse by Lynette Chataway whose "risky venture, informed by volunteer work in Asia, is a tableau of subtle observation - of dislocation, impermanence and loss - but we're left grasping for a bigger story."

Kathleen Noonan profiles Kate Holden in this weekend's "Courier-Mail", on the eve of the publication of her memoir, In My Skin. Although Holden worked for some time as a prostitute to finance her heroin habit, this is not the usual "trick-lit" writing. For a start Holden has a university honours degree in classics and literature. "Her motivation to write was that she felt there were few accurate representations of what she was experiencing. 'This is a huge industry, thousands of women are involved in it. Books and films portray the Pretty Woman thing, the whore with a heart of gold. I wanted to give a realistic depiction.'"

Mardi McConnochie is interviewed by Sandra Mclean about her new novel Fivestar in the "Courier-Mail": "...considering the glut of reality television shows and the commerciality of pop music. It was only a matter of time before someone turned the Spice Girls' story into a novel...But the fact that McConnochie was the one to do it in Australia is quite a surprise. Her first book was a highbrow work called Coldwater that put the Bronte sisters in colonial Australia and was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Her second book, Snow Queen, which was set in the world of classical dance, resulted in the Adelaide-raised writer being named as one of The Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Novelists in 2004."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 29, 2005 1:14 PM.

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