January 2006 Archives

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville's latest novel, The Secret River, has now been published in the UK and is starting to garner reviews.

"The Guardian" calls it "...an outstanding study of cultures in collision".
"The Observer" acknowledges that "Following The Idea of Perfection was always going to be a tough call", and finds that "Grenville writes exactingly and with passion about the Australian landscape: the bright light, the skinny, grey-green trees that refuse to shed their leaves, the cliffs that tumble into the river through snaking mangroves...The Secret River is a sad book, beautifully written and, at times, almost unbearable with the weight of loss, competing distresses and the impossibility of making amends."
"The Times" combines its review with some comments on the perception of Australian fiction in Britain: "With some exceptions, Australian fiction can be overlooked here, perhaps because the British feel it is alien or parochial. This is a pity. It has much to teach us, not least about the shadow side of 'civilisation' and 'the things not spoken of' that flow in the lives of those who made, and were made by, it. Splendidly paced, passionate and disturbing, The Secret River is just such a novel."

Doubtless others will follow in the coming weeks.

2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize

Strange goings-on...

The Literary Saloon alerted us to the presence of the announcement of the shortlisted novels for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' prize. Oddly enough, this announcement is over on the Commonwealth Foundation page, rather than the Commonwealth Writers' Prize page where you'd really expect it to appear.

Anyway, it's there and available, along with the previously advised note that the regional winners will be announced on February 6. So how come "The Age" today announces the winners of the South-East Asia and South Pacific region, both best novel and best first book? And how is it that their "winner" of the best book award wasn't even shortlisted?

Looks like some wires have been well and truly crossed here.

Weekend Round-Up 2006 #5

The major piece in "The Age" this weekend is a profile, by Frances Atkinson, of Marion Halligan as she awaits the publication of her new book, The Apricot Colonel, in February. Her best line: "I don't think that getting published at a young age is necessarily a good thing. Authors have probably been thinking about their first book since they were teenagers, then suddenly they have to write a second book but they've haven't lived enough." With which I'd agree. Then again, I'm just a grumpy old bastard, so what do I know?

"The Age" leads off its Australian reviews this week with coverage of two collections of poetry: Friendly Fire by Jennifer Maiden, and Rattus Rattus: New and Selected Poems by Peter Rose. This is not a common occurrence and it makes a pleasant change, not that the review appears on the website. The reviewer, David McCooey, stakes his reviewing territory right up front: "Although marginal to our public culture, poets are routinely presented as shamans, bards and prophets. But such nostalgia merely confirms the poet's marginal status. In the light (or dark) or John Howard's sedition laws, we need poets attuned to the contemporary, to the urgency of our times." And other writers as well.

But he's talking about poetry collections here so we should let him get on with it. "Maiden is not afraid to theorise and in essay mode she is often epigrammatic...Her originality is partly in the deft way she combines the lyric mode with satire, verse essay, diary, and occasional verse. Her 'parallel' poems are tours de force that illustrate hidden connections between apparently divergent topics." He is also impressed with Rose: "In contrast, Peter Rose is a master of obliquity...[he] is also a brilliant stylist, and like the American poet, Elizabeth Bishop, he knows how to use adjectives. But his glittering surfaces aren't merely 'stylistic'." Which leads me to believe that I'd have to read the collections to figure out what he's on about; and his review does pique my interest, as he concludes: "Rose and Maiden are both acute observers of what it is like to navigate one's private life through the murky currents of the public world." 'Murky' is one way of putting it. I'd tend to be a little more scathing.

Stephanie Dowrick has written a self-help book titled Choosing Happiness: Life & Soul Essentials which is reviewed by Claire Scobie: "Ultimately it is Dowrick's honesty, that she is a 'patchy optimist still subject to self-doubts', combined with her huge heart, that lifts Choosing Happiness above others. This modern bible for the soul, teaching how to live an ordinary life with 'a more-than-ordinary awareness', should sit alongside our dictionaries and encyclopedias." But not for me I fear.

And in "The Sunday Age", Mike Shuttleworth of the Centre for Youth Literature (based at the State Library of Victoria), profiles Scott Westerfield. Scott is a semi-transplanted Texan living in Sydney. He and his partner, Justine Larbalestier, divide their time between Australia and New York, which seems a pretty reasonable way to spend a life.

In "The Australian", J.M. Coetzee discusses the trials and tribulations of literary translation. He seems generally pleased with the results so far, though a few amusing anecdotes are thrown in to lighten the tone. The essay is reprinted from the latest issue of Meanjin. I know I'm being churlish, but it would be nice if the paper could commission such articles on its own.

Poem: The Literary Hero by Ironbark (G. Herbert Gibson) - Part 1

 cannot write in "flowing style" or wield a "mobile pen" --
To use the cant of books that rant of literary men --
I cannot "dash off" poetry, and often have regrets
That I'm not like the writers they describe in novelettes.
They always have ideas of the most attractive brand,
And flinty-hearted editors just taken 'em by the hand,
And load 'em up with whisky and Egyptian cigarettes,
While they write their way to glory -- that's the way in novelettes.
Oh! the shilling novelette! I must own I've got a "set"
On the preternatural pressman of the shilling novelette.

The literary hero's pen runs like an auto-car,
In quickest time he "jerks" a rhyme or "fakes" a comic par;
Collectors prize his signature -- he laughs a scornful laugh
As with his auto-mobile pen he pens his autograph.
It doesn't matter what he writes, or how he slings it out,
Or whether it's in prose or verse, or what it's all about;
It always knocks the public, and with shekels fills the net
Of the Admirable Crichton of the silly novelette.
Oh! the silly novelette! Just the greatest fraud I've met
Is that quill-propelling person in the silly novelette.

He writes an ode at six years old that takes the town by storm;
At twelve attains the highest planes of literary form,
And editors of magazines crawl half across the town
To beg a page of priceless "screed," and plank their guineas down,
He climbs Fame's ladder at a bound or two, the novels say,
(Of course, for he's a "bounder" too -- but that is by the way).
But how the public eulogise, and how the critics pet,
The literary flier of the spicy novelette!
Oh! the spicy novelette! I've a very heavy debt
Which I mean to settle some day with the spicy novelette.

First published in The Bulletin, 12 July, 1906.

[This poem will be concluded next week.]

Australia Day

It's hot, it's Australia Day (which usually means lounging around the house doing very little except watching the cricket and the tennis, reading books and visiting the new niece - by the name of Grace), so little in the way of weblogging will be done.

On the news front, a quick skim of the recipients of the Australia Day honours reveals Dr Inga Clendinnen awarded an Officer (AO) in the General Division: "For services to scholarship as a writer and historian addressing issues of fundamental concern to Australian society and for contributiing to shaping public debate on conflicting contemporary issues."

There may be others, but it's a long list.

2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize - Regional Shortlists

The Regional Shortlists for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers' Prize have been announced. Prizes are awarded for Best Book and Best First Book in each of the four Commonwealth Regions: Africa, Canada and Caribbean, Eurasia (Europe and South Asia), South East Asia and South Pacific. After the regional prizes are decided, overall Commonwealth winners of each category are then announced.

The list of works is quite long and should be up on the website soon. In the meantime, the following books have been shortlisted in the South East Asia and South Pacific region:

Best Book
Sandstone by Stephen Lacey
Grace by Robert Drewe
Surrender by Sonya Hartnett
March by Geraldine Brooks
Blindsight by Maurice Gee
The Marsh Birds by Eva Sallis
The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers by Delia Falconer
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Ballad of Desmond Kale by Roger McDonald

Best First Book

Affection by Ian Townsend
Winter Journey by Diane Armstrong
The Grasshopper Shoe by Carolyn Carolyn
An Accidental Terrorist by Steven Lang
The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
Road Story by Julienne Van Loon
Everyday Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany
The Patron Saint of Eels by Gregory Day
Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs by Linda Olsson
A Red Silk Sea by Gillian Ransfead

It's interesting to note that nomination in a particular region is based on citizenship, so Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee appears on the African shortlist.

Great Australian Authors #14 - Henry Kendall


Henry Kendall (1839 - 1882)

By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling:
It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.
Through breaks of the cedar and sycamore bowers
Struggles the light that is love to the flowers;
And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.

The silver-voiced bell birds, the darlings of daytime!
They sing in September their songs of the May-time;
When shadows wax strong, and the thunder bolts hurtle,
They hide with their fear in the leaves of the myrtle;
When rain and the sunbeams shine mingled together,
They start up like fairies that follow fair weather;
And straightway the hues of their feathers unfolden
Are the green and the purple, the blue and the golden.

From Bell-Birds by Henry Kendall

2006 Book #2 - Best Australian Essays 1998 edited by Peter Craven

How do you go about reviewing a collection such as this? If it was a collection of essays on a particular theme you could review each piece on how it relates to the theme in question. If it was a collection of essays written by one person you could follow the thread and chronology of the author's work, tracking their interests and looking for rises and falls in performance. But a wide-ranging collection of works, from disparate sources, on varying themes, of different lengths?

I think the only approach that might possibly work is to review it the way it should be read: not necessarily in sequence and not necessarily all of it. In addition some notes on the overall aim of the collection might be in order.

The editor, Peter Craven, sets out in his introduction to ponder the nature of the essay - what it is, where it's come from and where it is now. We have to remember that this was the first book in this series, and as such, we have to allow for a certain stumbling, and a limited range of vision. Craven has generally accessed the usual suspects - newspapers, Australian literary and current affairs magazines - but he has also looked a bit further afield to New York Review of Books, Art Monthly and even Wisden Cricket Monthly. As he puts it: "Our essayists have insinuated themselves so quietly into the national life that they might almost not have been there." And everywhere is where you have to look.

There aren't many duds in this collection, I suppose I really should say none. For they are all of interest and all well-written. We will all have our favourites of course and I especially liked Helen Garner's voyage to the Antarctic, John Birmingham's road trip to southern Queensland, Delia Falconer's transit of Montana (research for her latest novel perhaps?) and Catherine Ford's voyage round her own backyard. Then we have Robert Manne on the stolen generations, Raimond Gaita on the shame and guilt associated with indigenous affairs, Richard Flanagan on writing and Tim Flannery on tree kangaroos. The subject matter is nothing if not catholic.

The thing I like about these essay collections is that they introduce me to new writers and remind me of the ones I really need to get back to. I doubt Craven could ask for more success than that.

The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature

From the Young Adult Library Services Association website: "The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association. The award is sponsored by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association."

And this year two Australian books were named as 2006 Honor Books: Black Juice by Margo Lanagan, and I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak.

[Thanks to Margo for the link from her Among Amid Awhile weblog.]

A Lover of Books

Anton Kleist was a lover of books. His love for them was as much a sensual thing as intellectual. He liked their appearance on shelves, the texture of leather bindings against his palms. When he opened a book he waited to savour the rich smell of paper and age before turning his mind to the contents. Sometimes he would lift it close to his face, drinking in the smell of it as if there were no need to read the words at all. Even with new books there was an enjoyable sense of anticipation when he held one in his hands. He was the sort of man who shouldn't have dealt in books. 'They don't let alcoholics run hotels,' his wife had said, though even as she said it she knew it wasn't true.

From Soundings by Liam Davison, p27

2006 Writers at Como

The full programme is now available for the 2006 Writers at Como literary festival, running from February 17th to 19th. Featured writers include Frank McCourt, Les Murray, Don Watson, Robert Dessaix, John Marsden, Joanna Murray-Smith, Romona Koval, Gideon Haigh, Bernard Cornwell, Li Cunxin, Martin Flanagan and Alice Garner.

Weekend Round-Up 2006 #4

Melbourne in the 1960s, a cultural desert, a culinary wasteland, or the beginnings of a quite liveable city? These questions are addressed in a new book, Go! Melbourne edited by Seamus O'Hanlon and Tanja Luckins, which is reviewed in this week's Saturday "Age". All the major cultural events of the 1960s appear to be covered: the six o'clock swill, Jean Shrimpton's mini-skirt at the Melbourne Cup, and the Beatles' visit in 1964. A high time would appear to have been had by all - and thank god we never have to go back there again.

Simon Casterton considers Kerry Greenwood's lastest Corinna Chapman mystery, Devil's Food, the third in the continuing series. "Readers who like their crime fiction chatty and relatively free of suspense may well warm to Corinna and we can all enjoy her recipes, an appetising selection of which is included at the back of the novel."

"The Australian" concludes its publication of Stephen King's story "Sword in the Darkness", but appears to have dropped last week's instalment and not included this week's on their website.

Francis De Groot achieved infamy in Australian history by "trumping of NSW premier Jack Lang by slashing the ceremonial ribbon with his sword to 'open' the Sydney Harbour Bridge on March 19, 1932". Now, the first biography of the man Francis De Groot: Irish Fascist, Australian Legend, has been produced by Andrew Moore, and reviewed by Baron Adler.

Poem: Song of the Pen by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson

Not for the love of women toil we, we of the craft,
   Not for the people's praise;
Only because our goddess made us her own and laughed,
   Claiming us all our days,

Claiming our best endeavour -- body and heart and brain
   Given with no reserve --
Niggard is she towards us, granting us little gain:
   Still, we are proud to serve.

Not unto us is given choice of the tasks we try,
   Gathering grain or chaff;
One of her favoured servants toils at an epic high,
   One, that a child may laugh.

Yet if we serve her truly in our appointed place,
   Freely she doth accord
Unto her faithful servants always this saving grace,
   Work is its own reward!

From Saltbush Bill, J.P., and Other Verses, 1917

Combined Reviews: The Philosopher's Doll by Amanda Lohrey

philosophers_doll.jpg Reviews of The Philosopher's Doll by Amanda Lohrey.

This book has been nominated for the 2006 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

"The Age" describes it as a book that "focuses on a professional couple in their late 30s struggling with the issue of when to have children. Much of the book deals with an intense few weeks in which the wife, Kirsten, has actually become pregnant and is deciding when to tell her husband, Lindsay, while he, completely unaware of this
biological incident, is arranging to buy her a dog in order to temporarily satisfy her procreative yearnings."

As Rachel Slater puts it, the novel "novel poses some big questions. How much free choice do we really have? What does it mean to be human? What do we know about consciousness? These philosophical stalwarts are unravelled alongside the lives of two suburban professionals grappling with their own big questions - questions of potential parenthood, infidelity and desire." But it seems clear that it is not the novel's intention to tie up the loose ends and "the reader is not offered definitive answers to any of the questions raised in the novel, but in addressing the argument - so prevalent in Western culture - that choice equals freedom and therefore happiness, Lohrey provides more than a little food for thought." So it certainly sounds like the author is treating the reader with a great deal of respect, providing no easily digestible answers and allowing the reader to make up their own mind.

Tony Smith, reviewing the book in Australian Book Review is certainly enthusiastic about the result: "Lohrey is so perceptive that there is nothing superfluous in this superbly structured novel. Every event, every word is necessary and there are constant echoes that remind the reader of the complexity of the plot and the sophistication of the author's technique...Many novels display some of the characteristics that encourage readability: consistency of theme, soundness of structure, steadiness of pace, depth of characterisation and elegance of style. In The Philosopher's Doll, Lohrey demonstrates that she has consummate control of all these skills. Lohrey's beautifully balanced, expertly crafted novel is a treat for head and for heart."

Amanda Lohrey was interviewed by Ramona Koval on ABC Radio's Books and Writing program on May 16, 2004.

Upcoming Australian SF/Fantasy/Horror

You can read a list (with descriptions and the occasional book cover) of the upcoming Australian sf, fantasy and horror books. This was put together in October last year by Garth Nix and Jonathan Strahan, so some of the books listed will already be in the shops. The authors have attempted to be as all-inclusive as they can but some items will have slipped the net. Nonetheless, it's an impressive piece of work.

Note: the catalogue is a PDF file of some 400k.

[Thanks to Jonathan Strahan and his weblog Notes from Coode Street for the link.]

Great Australian Authors #13 - Thea Astley


Thea Astley (1925 - 2004)

'I've never sailed the Amazon. I've never reached Brazil,' she quoted, and I've never been to a literary festival or a poetry reading, she thought, and listened to poets read, awed by their own genius.

A lot of things she hadn't done. Sitting now, useless maybe, in her upstairs flat with a view of the town's pub, grocery store, unused picture show, council building and primary school skulking by the wattles near where the creek used to flow. But I might write a book -- something -- she decided, having the wherewithal: table, typewriter, a new ream of paper, and angry ideas. And alone-time in the hot evenings. Past fifty, she admitted. And had really done nothing except move from one day to the next, accepting the vagaries of personal weather. These were written on her anxious face, blinked behind her glasses; they turned up the corners of her mouth that tried to conceal its amusement in a town that went for the most explicit of laughs. All she had to do was insert a page in the typer, adjust her kitchen chair, flex her fingers as if she were about to crash into the Rach II and begin.

From Drylands by Thea Astley

Australian Literary Monuments #3 - C. J. Dennis

cjd_laura.jpg Bust of C.J. Dennis

Clarence (Clarrie or Den) Michael James Stanislaus Dennis was born in Auburn, South Australia on September 7, 1876, to James Dennis and his second wife Catherine (Kate) Tobin. After Kate's death in 1890, James Dennis moved the family north, first to Gladstone and then to Laura. Den was sent to school in Adelaide and returned when he was 17 to work in his father's hotel. After some years in Laura, Broken Hill and Adelaide (where he worked on The Critic and The Gadfly) he ended up in Victoria where he was to spend the rest of his life. In 1915 he published The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, an instant Australian classic that is probably the highest selling collection of poetry in this nation's history. He produced further works over the next few years but none reached the heights attained by "the Bloke". For the last 16 or so years of his life Dennis worked as "poet in residence" on the Herald newspaper in Melbourne. He died in 1938. This bust of C.J. Dennis is located in Laura, South Australia, outside the town hall.

From a personal perspective, if you follow the road on the right of the picture all the way to the top, turn left and continue for about 100 metres you'll come to the house where I grew up.

Reviews of Australian Books #14

Hazel Rowley's Tête-à-Tête: The Lives and Loves of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre is reviewed in "The Guardian" by Todd McEwen and Lucy Ellmann: "The lack of authorial comment on these shenanigans [their sexual activities] makes Tête-à-Tête strangely uninvolving. But more alarmingly, Hazel Rowley has decided not to talk about Satre and De Beauvoir as writers. They worked like dogs all their lives, to a punishing schedule, bouncing ideas (and 20-year-olds) off each other. Their partnership and their love existed most vividly in their literary work. Without an acknowledgment of its meaning, and its place in their lives, this book descends into a litany of dreary hangers-on, telephone calls, appointments in cafés, plane trips and girls, girls, girls."

Eliot Perlman's collection of stories, The Reasons I Won't be Coming is reviewed in this week's "Washington Post". Seems rather late for publication there. Maybe it's riding on the back of his recent novel Seven Types of Ambiguity. Anyway, the reviewer John McNally, is rather ambivalent with the result: "My chief complaint with these stories is that their endings are more inevitable than surprising. The revelations aren't always as startling as we were led to believe, and so the stories read like domestic fiction written by Edgar Allan Poe."

Andrew McGahan's The White Earth is starting to get reviews in the US, with SF Gate and Powell's delivering this week. Doubtless there will be more to follow.

Literary Hoaxes

With the fun and jollity generated over the past week or so by James Frey's A Million Little Pieces - was it or was it not a "true" memoir - and the identity of author JT Leroy - drug addict or just "a naughty boy/girl" - CBC provide a list of the great literary hoaxes. And it's good to see our own Ern Malley scoring an entry. This later became the inspiration behind Peter Carey's novel, My Life as a Fake.

[Thanks to Bookslut for the link.]

Weekend Round-Up 2006 #3

"The Age" and "The Australian" both score exclusive coups this weekend, with Kate Grenville publishing "Between Two Men", an extract from her most recent novel, The Secret River, that she had reluctantly edited out, and Stephen King appearing in "The Australian" with a previously unpublished short story "Sword in the Darkness"- more on that later.

Grenville explains that she had to cut the piece here because "As a stand-alone scene, this fictional re-working of the historical moment seemed to work. But as part of a novel, it had two big problems. First it was too quick. What happened on the frontier was a process, not a moment...The other problem was that it was confusing in view of later events." She goes on to say that though cutting this scene hurt it gave her "an understanding of the shifts of feeling that would be the basis for the novel."

A good idea this. I expect The Secret River to feature pretty strongly in various awards during 2006. Seeing how the novel came into being, even if only in this small context, is very interesting. Normally, we have to wait years for this material to see the light of day.

There appears to be a movement at "The Age" website to reduce the number of book reviews reproduced from the print edition. Why this is so I have no idea. I know it's a quiet time in Australian publishing, after the big rush to get everything out for the Christmas and summer reading binge, but surely they could put the reviews of Australian books up on their website. It's not as if they are going to lose readers this way. The only reviews added this weekend are those of a biography of photographer-model Lee Miller (not interested) and of Capote's forgotten novel Summer Crossing, again not interested. So my views on what should be available is moving well away from what the editors produce. I can't see us getting closer any time soon.

In the print edition, we have Jim Davidson's review of Australian Dictionary of Biography: Supplement 1580-1980 edited by Christopher Cunneen, from Melbourne University press, which at $74.95 is aimed more at the researcher than the general reader I suspect.

"The Australian"'s coup of the week is to run the world's first publication of Stephen King's story "Sword in the Darkness" - well, the first part of it anyway. The conclusion will be published next week. The story is from a new collection of King's work, Stephen King: Unpublished, Uncollected, from Kanrock Publishing, a new press out of Mulgrave here in Melbourne.

2005 "The Age" Short Story Award - Third Place

Erin Gough's story "The Promise" was awarded third place in the 2005 "The Age" short story competition. It was published in the paper on the weekend. You might recall the first place winner was "The Reasons for Us Being Here" by Ellen Rodger, and "Booligal Sheep Station" by Dennis McIntosh was the second place getter.

Poem: To the Editor by Garry

Who are these mystic blighters,
These weird, fantastic writers,
Who decorate your pages every week?
We know each nom de plume
From Cooktown round to Broome,
But it's inside information that we seek.

So will you kindly tell
Who "KODAK" is and "SNELL,"
And who the deuce "PHILANDER F." may be?
Who grills the morning chop
For "SATAN" and for "HOP."
Who brews "RELIGIOUS EDITOR" his tea?

You might mention, by the way,
If "O.K." is just "O.K.,"
Some anecdotes of "WANG" and "BILLY B."
And tell us if "MACHETE"
Is one of the elite,
And give us "CURSE O' MOSES" pedigree.

Of straight names there are plenty,
And a dozen more or so,
But it's little more we know
Of them than what we know about the others.

We should like to know what manner
Of a woman is "JOHANNA";
And is she of the brand that's known as "new"?
And if the poet BRADY
Is a man or just a lady,
And lastly, who and what and how are YOU?

First published in The Bulletin, 26 September 1912

Sonya Hartnett Profile

Sonya Hartnett is profiled in this week's "Bulletin" magazine. "It wasn't that I decided I wanted to be a writer; I decided I would be a writer. I became a writer because I was too bloody lazy to do anything else." Ah, honesty at last. But seriously, she published her first novel at 15, and has produced such novels as Of a Boy and Surrender. After reading those you quickly come to the conclusion she could be nothing else.

Non Sequitur by Wiley

Wikipedia defines it as "Non Sequitur is a comic strip created by Wiley Miller in 1991 and syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate to over 700 newspapers. The strip can be found online at uComics.com, although archives are only viewable with an account. Non Sequitur is often political and satirical, though other times, purely comedic." If you get the chance have a look at the January 12, 2006 edition. (It's in today's "Age" but not up on the official site as yet.) It is titled "The Glamour of Writing" and depicts a typical book signing in a book-store: the first has a sign saying "Meet the Author", the second "Meet an actor who plays a minor role in the film adaptation of the book!" No guesses where the line is.

Ads for Australian Books

Some literary weblogs accept advertising, and I've never had a problem with that. I've clicked through on a few of the ads when a book catches my eye. Which, I guess, is exactly the point of the things. Over on the Bookslut weblog is a first for me: an ad for an Australian novel. It's at the top of the page on the right-hand side. You can't miss it. It's been there a week or so (maybe more, it is summer after all) so I doubt it will be around much longer. Check it out. Here's hoping The White Earth by Andrew McGahan gets a good reception in the US. I'll keep an eye out for any reviews.

2006 Book #1 - Jack of Shadows by Roger Zelazny

Roger Zelazny (1937-95) is now mostly remembered as the writer of the two Amber series of fantasy novels, a 10-novel sequence of action adventures that he first began in 1970. Yet things started out very differently for the author.

Zelazny published his first sf story in 1962, a year that was subsequently to gain something of a reputation as a watershed in sf publishing history. It was also the year that Samuel R. Delaney, Thomas M. Disch and Ursula K. Le Guin published their first work, and all were to be later credited with leading the US component of the sf new wave of the late sixties.

Zelazny's early work showed huge promise with "A Rose for Eccelsiastes" being nominated for a Hugo Award in 1964, and then "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth" and "He Who Shapes" both winning in 1965: the first two of these are now considered classics of the genre. He followed these with Hugo Awards for Best Novel for This Immortal (aka ...And Call Me Conrad) in 1966, and for Lord of Light in 1968.

It is interesting to note that Zelazny only started to write full-time after 1969 at which point his style took on a more commercial aspect. The first of his Amber novels, Nine Princes in Amber, was published in 1970, being followed by the others in the sequence at regular intervals over the next twenty or so years. He was to win further Hugo and Nebula Awards for his shorter fiction in the 1980s and 1990s, but it is considered by most critics that he never again achieved the literary heights of those earlier celebrated works.

Jack of Shadows forms a bridge between the two sections of his career, between the predominantly sf and mainly fantasy portions. It combines aspects of both sub-genres as it tells the story of Jack who lives on a far-future earth; a world that has stopped rotating and on which the light side is ruled by science and the dark side by magic. It differs from his other fantasy work in that the main character is the antithesis of Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces, the hero he was to use again and again in the Amber series. Jack is a thief, a liar and a despot who finally succeeds in destroying all he loves and all he desires in his attempts to control the whole earth. There are echoes here of his earlier work in his use of mythological concepts in an sf setting, and previews of his later novels in his use of magic - not least the "Shadows" of the title.

Jack of Shadows is a fine fantasy that, from the distance of 35 years, reads like the last hurrah of a glittering sf career, and the first blast of a commercial fantasy one.

Great Australian Authors #12 - Xavier Herbert


Xavier Herbert (1901 - 1984)

Although that northern part of the Continent of Australia which is called Capricornia was pioneered long after the southern parts, its unofficial early history was even more bloody than that of the others. One probable reason for this is that the pioneers had already had experience of subduing Aborigines in the South and hence were impatient of wasting time with people who they knew were determined to take no immigrants. Another reason is that the Aborigines were there more numerous than in the South and more hostile because used to resisting casual invaders from the near East Indies. A third reason is that the pioneers had difficulty in establishing permanent settlements, having serveral times to abandon ground they had won with slaughter and go slaughtering again to secure more. This abandoning of ground was due not to the hostility of the natives, hostile enough though they were, but to the violence of the climate, which was not to be withstood even by men so well equipped with lethal weapons and belief in the decency of their purpose as Anglo-Saxon builders of Empire.

From Capricornia by Xavier Herbert

Second Novel Syndrome

Malcolm Knox, author of A Private Man and reviewer for "The Sydney Morning Herald", writes of Second Novel Syndrome, that curious affliction that causes some novellists to clam up after their first publication. Unfortuately, he uses DBC Pierre as an example. Pierre won the Booker a few years back with his debut novel Vernon God Little. Knox writes:

This year, the highest-profile second novel anywhere in the world will be DBC Pierre's Ludmila's Broken English. Pierre published his debut, Vernon God Little, at the age of 42 and won the Booker Prize. Two years ago, when he was visiting Sydney, I asked him if Vernon God Little had taught him how to write. He was working on Ludmila's Broken English at the time. "I've discovered that it didn't teach me how to write this book," he said. "It only taught me how to write that book."
Unfortunately? Well, as The Literary Saloon puts it: "Alas, readers also discovered it didn't teach him to write any book -- it was a pretty poor piece of work. Indeed, we figure the only hope we have is if he learned from his mistakes. But given how many there were, it's a tall order ..... "

Australian Literary Monuments #2 - Adam Lindsay Gordon

alg_melb.jpg Statue of Adam Lindsay Gordon

Adam Lindsay Gordon was born in 1833 at Fayal in the Azores where his mother's father had a plantation. He completed his education in England and was sent by his family to South Australia in 1853 where he enlisted in the mounted police. He was briefly a member of Parliament and lived in Western Australia and Ballarat before moving to Melbourne. During his time in Ballarat he suffered a severe head injury in a riding accident, was bankrupted by a fire in the livery stable and lost his infant daughter. The day after the publication of his poems in Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes he committed suicide on Brighton Beach in Melbourne. He is the only Australian poet to be honoured with a bust in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey in London. The statue depicted here is located on Spring Street, Melbourne, near the corner of Collins Street, in Gordon Reserve. It was erected in 1932 and funded by public subscription.

2005 "The Age" Short Story Award - Second Place

Dennis McIntosh's story "Booligal Sheep Station" came second in the 2005 "The Age" short story competition. It was published on the weekend. You might recall the first place winner was "The Reasons for Us Being Here" by Ellen Rodger.

Weekend Round-Up 2006 #2

The "essay", that bastard of a thing we used to call "composition" back when I was in primary school, is having a big revival in Australia. I am in no position to make a definitive case as to when this happened, but Peter Craven's annual series of "Best Australian Essays" (dating from 1998) and the "Quarterly Essay" also edited by him, and both from Black Inc Publishing, must have had something to do with it. Yes, essays have been all around us since the year dot and I used to read the ones which caught my eye in the papers, but having them collected into one volume and having new and interesting essays presented as if they had a life-span of longer than two days, certainly galvanised readers' interest; this reader anyway.

This increasing interest has paved the way for single-author essay collections to be published in this country. Previously you'd have to be Clive James, Helen Garner, Tim Flannery or Peter Singer to get a gig like that. Now Giramondo Press has released The Bone House by Beverly Farmer, and Chihuahuas, Women and Me by Louis Nowra into the field. The two books are reviewed by Peter Pierce, professor of Australian Literature at James Cook University, in this weekend's "The Age". Nowra described his collection as "a parade of my obsessions and enthusiams and, as such, could be read as a memoir", which Pierce seems pretty impressed with: "This is a book of intelligence, wit, good sense as well as ample evidence of folly. There are few Australian writers of Nowra's scope and challenge to us." On the other hand, or maybe the same one, depending on how you look at it, he finds Farmer's collection "is organised digressively; proceeds by association. It is a commonplace book, a mosaic of thoughts, an assembly of quotations and scraps of knowledge that review and reveal the writer's mind and perceptions." Which strikes me as being what we're after: "This ambitious hybrid of a book is striking, rewarding, always skirting pretentiousness, gloomy, yet written in the hope of renewal."

[Comment: no posting of this review on the website. C'mon guys, it's Australian, get your acts together.]

Myth Maker. Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett: The Englishman Who Sparked Australia's Gallipoli Legend by Fred and Elizabeth Brenchley is reviewed by Christpher Bantick. I've previously expressed my amusement at books with long titles like this so I'll resist the urge to get stuck in on that score this time, other than to say that half this title could have been left out and it wouldn't have affected the final product. The view that Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett was responsible for initiating the Australian public's interest in Gallipoli was started by the late Lloyd Robson, a Melbourne University historian. "This book develops Robson's thesis that it was Ashmead-Bartlett's reports from the front that largely shaped Australia's sense of the Gallipoli legend. The longevity of Ashmead-Bartlett's opinions and observations are measured out in how Australians still regard their Gallipoli heroes." Odd timing for this book. You'd think that nearer to Anzac day in April might have been a better publication date.

"The Australian" appears to be still on an extended Australian literature summer holiday.

2005 Nebula Awards

The 2005 Preliminary Nebula ballot has been announced.

Jack Dann's alternate universe novel The Rebel: An Imagined Life of James Dean appears on the long list of

The Nebula Awards are voted on by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for excellence in the fields of sf and fantasy. They have an FAQ available if you need to know more about the awards. The winners will be announced during the Nebula Awards weekend, May 4-7 2006, in Tempe, Arizona.

Gabrielle Lord on the Radio

ABC Radio's "Ockham Razor" is a short lecture series presented each Sunday on Radio National. Podcasts of this series are available and I can state that I find them vastly enjoyable, even when I disagree with the viewpoint expressed. This week, local crime writer Gabrielle Lord "talks about the research she has to undertake when she gathers materials for one of her books. To give her stories the authentic touch she has to constantly learn about the world of forensic science."

Weblog Entries

Here's a problem that I've been finding with MovableType from time to time: previewing entries in the weblog doesn't show exactly how the entry will appear when it's published. This especially occurs with special characters such as é and ü. But it also happens when I cut and paste quotes from other web pages directly into these weblog entries. In those cases such simple punctuation marks as single and double quotes and dashes come out looking decidely dodgy in the final published version, after looking perfectly acceptable during the entry preview process.

For most of the readers of this weblog this won't be problem, I'll notice the error in the entry and fix it so it comes out properly on the weblog. However, those readers who read this weblog via such sites as Bloglines or MetaxuCafe are going to receive double entries: one for the first publication and another for any subsequent edit. To them I send my apologies. I'll have to get my ISP to upgrade to a later version or MovableType and see if the problem is fixed.

Weblog Comments

For the first time I've received a comment from someone who hasn't left either a name or an email address. I'm not too fussed about the email address side of things as I know some people are worried about spam etc, but a name would be good. I can't reply if I think I'm talking to a brick wall.

So if you left a comment for me in the past day could you either fix the comment or email me ( perry at middlemiss dot org) and I'll fix it for you.


Poem: The Wantaritencant by Henry Lawson

It watched me in the cradle laid, and from my boyhood's home
It glared above my shoulder-blade when I wrote my first "pome";
It's sidled by me ever since, with greeny eyes aslant --
It is the thing (O, Priest and Prince!) that wants to write, but can't.

It yells and slobbers, mows and whines, It follows everywhere;
'Tis gloating on these very lines with red and baleful glare.
It murders friendship, love and truth (It makes the "reader" pant),
It ruins editorial youth, the Wantaritencant.

Its slime is ever on my work, and ever on my name;
No toil nor trouble does It shirk -- for It will write, all the same!
It tantalized when great thoughts burned, in trouble and in want;
It makes it hell for all concerned, the Wantaritencant.

And now that I would gladly die, or rest my weary mind,
I cannot rest to think that I must leave the Thing behind.
Its green rot damns the dead, for sure -- that greatest curse extant,
'Twill kill Australian literature, the Wantaritencant!

You cannot kill or keep It still, or ease It off a bit;
It talks about Itself until the world believes in It.
It is a Scare, a Fright, a Ghast, a Gibber, and a Rant,
A future Horror and a Past, the Wantaritencant!

First published in The Bulletin, 3 January 1907

Combined Reviews: A Private Man by Malcolm Knox

private_man.jpg Reviews of A Private Man by Malcolm Knox.

This book has been nominated for the 2006 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. It also won the award for Best First Novel at the 2005 Ned Kelly Awards.

Description: "It is two days since Dr John Brand's death and his eldest son, Davis, suspects a cover-up. 'Survived by two sons', the death notice said. 'Peacefully.' But someone has lied: there are three sons, and the circumstances of their father's death are murky. Still, the Sydney Test Match is on and Davis's famous brother Chris is batting to save his career while their mother Margaret watches the broadcast from her armchair. Hammett, the unacknowledged third brother, lurks on the edges, banished but not forgotten. Scattered over Sydney, the Brand's lives - and John Brand's funeral - are put on hold for the duration of the game: five days of suspense, silences, revelations, recriminations and redemption."

Most of the reviews of this novel concentrate on the sporting and porn aspects, and not from a salacious point-of-view. On the contrary, the reviewers go to some pains to praise Knox for his use of the two subject lines. In "Australian Book Review", José Borghino goes so far as to say: "Gabriel Garcia Márquez once said that all of us lead three different lives simultaneously: public, private and secret. In his second novel, A Private Man, Malcolm Knox explores two very secret recesses of the modern Australian male's perspective: porn and sport. That both these spheres also have a very public face merely allows for these secret experiences to be played out in front of a paying audience as either tragedy or farce, or sometimes both." Which pretty much covers it. Borghino goes further by stating: "There are echoes of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections in the structure and familial focus of the book -- and I mean that in the most complimentary way. Chapters weave back and forth in time and take the point of view of first one then another of the main characters. The result is that, with each new chapter, we see different sides of each player. Our sympathies grow and ebb, and each character's personality seems much more rounded and believable as a consequence."

Michael Jacobs, in the "Adelaide Review" concurs: "It is a fine piece of writing, well-structured, subtle and sensitive. When I had finished the first read, I rather wished the author had not tied up so many loose ends in a final rush. I still think it is a pity that so much is disposed of so neatly, but on reflection there is enough left unresolved for the reader to have things to wonder about. Outside Hollywood, that is the mark of a good piece of work."

Writing as Communication

"The notion that communication can occur by way of black squiggles marching across flat surfaces is, when you look at it, very odd indeed, especially when face-to-face, body-to-body communication is, as we know from sad experience, a long way short of perfect. Even instrumental exchanges with the person sitting opposite at breakfast is often more than we can manage. However we may deceive ourselves in moments of intimacy, 'the other' begins at the skin."

From "Agamemnon's Kiss" by Inga Clendinnen, first published in The Best Australian Essays 1998.

Pitching Opportunity for Unpublished Novelists

Conjure, the 2006 Australian
National Science Fiction Convention, is offering Australian unpublished novelists of Speculative Fiction the opportunity to pitch their work to Stephanie Smith, Senior Editor of the Voyager imprint of HarperCollins Australia.

Interesting idea. In order to be considered you have to fill out the entry form (downloadable from the website), and submit it, the first 20 pages of the manuscript and a one page pitch. If you're not sure about the pitch side of things, then have a look at Miss Snark's weblog. Over the few weeks or so she has been accepting novel synopses from her readers and commenting on them from her agenting perspective. Lots to learn here.

Reviews of Australian Books #13

Nicholas Shakespeare reviews Murray Bail's Notebooks 1970-2003 in "The Daily Telegraph". His first statement in the review, "There is nothing so stimulating as a good writer's notebook", leads me to the conclusion that this review is by a writer about a writer for writers. I like Bail's work but can't see myself doing anything other than dipping into this book at the library.

James Ley is impressed with Louis Nowra's collection of essays titled Chihuahuas, Women and Me: "...which collects some of Louis Nowra's occasional writings from the past six years, is wonderful. I even enjoyed his essay about chihuahuas. I hate chihuahuas."

Forthcoming Australian Books for 2006

"The Age" and "The Australian" have posted their annual lists of forthcoming books. Here are the ones I'm looking forward to:

Passarola Rising, Azhar Abidi (February)
Dreams of Speaking, Gail Jones (February)
The Resurrectionist, James Bradley (March)
Carry Me Down, M.J. Hyland (March)
Theft: A Love Story, Peter Carey (April)
Tuvalu, Andrew O'Connor (August)
The Unknown Terrorist, Richard Flanagan (November)

Crime Fiction
The Apricot Colonel, Marion Halligan (February)
A Hal Challis novel by Garry Disher (September)
A Jack Irish novel by Peter Temple (October)
Sucked In, a Murray Whelan novel by Shane Maloney (November)

Speculative Fiction
Magic Lessons, Justine Larbalestier (March)
The Keys to the Kingdom, Book 4: Sir Thursday, Garth Nix (March)

Bi-Plan Houses, Les Murray (April)

Graphic Novel
The Arrival, Shaun Tan (October)

Asbestos House: The Unauthorised Story of James Hardie Industries, Gideon Haigh (February)
An autobiography by Robert Hughes (July)
An autobiography by Barry Jones (September)
A History of Victoria, Geoffrey Blainey (October)

The Australian papers neglected to list the forthcoming Speculative Fiction so I've grabbed what I can find from the list published in Locus in early December 2005.

Spielberg and Mary Poppins

For a while there, at the end of 2005, it was being reported that Steven Spielberg was interested in remaking "Mary Poppins", based on the original book by PL Travers and the 1964 Disney film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. And now it seems that some cold water has been thrown on the idea.

PL Travers was born Helen Lyndon Goff in Maryborough, Queensland, on 9th August 1899; she died in London in 1996. She is reported have to been very upset by the Disney version, considering it too sentimental. She'll be spinning widdershins if Spielberg gets hold of the material. A musical based on the film/book has been running in the West End of London since December 2004 and is due to open on Broadway in October 2006.

Great Australian Authors #11 - C.J. Dennis


C.J. Dennis (1876 - 1938)

'Er name's Doreen ...Well, spare me bloomin' days!
You could er knocked me down wiv 'arf a brick!
   Yes, me, that kids meself I know their ways,
   An' 'as a name for smoogin' in our click!
I just lines up 'an tips the saucy wink.
But strike! The way she piled on dawg! Yer'd think
   A bloke was givin' back-chat to the Queen....
      'Er name's Doreen.

"The Intro" from The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis

Margo Lanagan Profile

Margo Lanagan is profiled in "The Weekend Australian", with the major item of news being that she aims for ten written pages a day. I'm not sure if the photo accompanying the piece was taken at her home or at the new writing location she's recently acquired. In any event the table looks pretty neat, and you know what they say about neat desks... Lanagan is currently working on a new collection of stories and a novel. For further updates on how both of these are progressing you can check out her weblog. I do, regularly.

Weekend Round-Up 2006 #1

I skipped last week's instalment as it was the Christmas/New Year period, the heat was roaring, the barbecue was grilling and sitting in front of a computer terminal did not appeal in the slightest. As I recall you didn't miss much.

Jeffrey Smart is one of Australia's great modern artists, and I'm astounded by the people who never seem to have heard of him but who indicate instant recognition when they see his work (see here for some examples). I wonder if this means that the art is more famous than the artist, or something else. Anyway in "The Age" this week Ian Britain (editor of Meanjin) reviews Margaret Olley: Far From a Still Life by Meg Stewart and Jeffrey Smart by Barry Pearce, but there doesn't appear to be an entry for it on the website.

Nothing much is shared by Olley and Smart except their medium and their creative resilience. Yet that is sufficient perhaps to prompt some reflection on whether the very exercise of painting, the amount of physical stamina it involves, the demands of a direct and constant visual engagement with an external world, the tactility and ooze of paint itself, are greater regenerative forces than the disciplines, tools and sensory focus of the average writer or composer.

Neither book reviewed here explicitly addresses such questions, yet each provides recurrent testimony to the therapeutic or recuperative qualities of the act of painting: its power to dissipate more than abet any self-destructive, over-introspective moods occasioned by emotional setbacks or physical afflictions in the painter's life.

We do, however, have access to Michael Gordon's review of Graham Freudenberg's autobiography A Figure of Speech: A Political Memoir. Speechwriter for any number of Labor leaders from Arthur Caldwell to Bob Carr over a 43-year career, Freudenberg's insights into the political left in Australia provide very interesting reading: "What comes through is history's capacity to repeat itself in different guises, with the challenges Labor faces today - addressing its own failings, preparing a platform and resonating with the people - bearing more than a faint resemblance to those met by Whitlam in the wilderness years."

In "The Australian" I couldn't find anything Australian being reviewed. It's that time of year. Everyone's at the beach.

Proposed 2006 Reading List

I'm not big on making New Year's resolutions. It strikes me as the wrong time of year for those things. There's too much pressure on you to follow through and the resultant failure can be disheartening. So "life-changing" resolutions are out, but plans and adjustments are okay. Just don't put too much store on them.

I like to make reading lists at the start of each year even though I rarely achieve all my goals. The way I look at it, I'm going to be reading anyway so it's a good idea of setting targets. If, at any time during the year, I'm stuck for what to read next, I can just return to this list to get me back on track.

The standard reading aim is one book a week. That's the minimum, and I do tend to hit that target year on year. In 2005 I got to 61 books which averages out at just over five a month. That'll do.

Another of my 2005 plans was to read more Australian fiction, which I also achieved. Most of what I read were new works so I need to keep that up and to add in some classic Australian novels - Patrick White comes to mind here. I've stated previously that White is a problem for me in that I have read part of The Tree of Man and nothing else by him. So he's on the list. And so is Henry Handel Richardson's trilogy, The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney; generally considered to be one of the greatest Australian works ever. And then there's Christina Stead and Shirley Hazzard, both of whom I have to tackle some time soon.

Of the newer Australian works I intend to read the Miles Franklin Award shortlist between the announcements of the novels and of the award. Luckily enough the organisers of the award give us two months for this. These will be works published in 2005 that I missed. Add the new books (such as the new Carey) that I'd like to get to as well.

I've been a bit tardy in my reading of Australian speculative fiction of late so I'll aim to remedy that by getting to some of the works on the Aurealis and Ditmar Award shortlists. Similarly for Australian crime fiction: catch up with Shane Maloney and Garry Disher, and read the Ned Kelly Award shortlists.

On the Australian non-fiction front there's the new Best Essays of the Year 2005, and a back edition as well; some Australian history - I've got biographies of Matthew Flinders and George Bass that I'm looking forward to, as well as Keneally's The Commonwealth of Thieves; and the new book by Tim Flannery, The Weather Makers.

Overseas I need to catch up with recent winners of the Booker prize and US Pulitzer and National Book Awards, and I need to increase my reading of books in translation.

Crime-wise there is bound to be a new Rankin out as he missed 2005, Stuart McBride has his second book out, I'm a couple of Mankell's behind and my wife keeps telling me to read Boris Akunin's Russian detective novels. On the classic crime side I've started re-reading Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer novels and have about another 20 or so of them to finish, and I have 5 more to go in Adam Hall's Quiller series. I won't finish either of these series this year, they're both long term projects.

Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin and Neal Stephenson have been producing some outstanding speculative fiction of late and I would like to dip back into that field a bit more. And to re-read some classics as well. I'm a long way off finishing my re-reading of Le Guin's works and she has a new book out this year.

Added to this gargantuan list are requirements for a biography or two, Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos, and some travel writing by Jonathan Raban.

I haven't a hope. The list is way too big. If I get through half of it I'll be lucky (or out of work). But just thinking about it gives me something to look forward to.

Currently Reading


 Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
The second book in the "First Law" series. Epic fantasy written to honour the honour and explore the standard fantasy tropes, as well as to poke ore than a little fun at them at the same time. A big book, but still a page-turner.



 How it Feels by Brendan Cowell
A debut novel from a multi-talented author/actor/director. A coming-of-age novel which might well be semi-autobiographical.


Recently Read


 Monster Blood Tattoo: Factotum by D. M. Cornish
The third book in the MBT series. Will we finally find out who Rossamund really is? And will we be sad to leave this fully-realised fantasy world? I suspect the answer will be "yes" to both.



 Rendezvous at Kamakura Inn by Marshall Browne
Browne's first novel in a new series, this time featuring a Japanese detective, Inspector Aoki. This novel finds the inspector investigating an old murder in a snowed-in remote Japanese retreat.



 The City & The City by China Miéville
Miéville's Hugo Award winning novel of two cities inhabiting the same physical location. A murder mystery with hints of classic sf/fantasy memes, from Dick to Borges, but in a European setting.

 Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child
The 13th Jack Reacher novel. Suicide bombers on the New York subway and international terrorism mixed with hard-boiled action makes for an interesting brew.



 The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
Heroic fantasy in the modern style. A fantasy that is laced through with noirish elements, and excellent characterisations. First book of The First Law trilogy.

 Where Have You Been? by Wendy James
What happens when a sister returns after being missing, presumed dead, for twenty years? James enhances her reputation as one of Australia's rising literary novelists.

 Wyatt by Garry Disher
Disher's anti-hero is back after an absence of ten years with a gritty, fast, noirish struggle for survival. All the best aspects of Disher's work are on display here.



 Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
A Young Adult steampunk novel set at the start of an alternate history First World War. Fast-paced, intriguing and totally captivating.



 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Dick's novel of the near future when the difference between human and android is barely discernible. One of the great all-time sf titles.



 American Journeys by Don Watson
Watson journeys into the heart of America, by train and car. There he discovers the best, and the worst, of humanity and society.



 Ghostlines by Nick Gadd
2009 Best First Novel at the Ned Kelly Awards. Murder in the art world involving political intrigue and business corruption in Melbourne.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2005 is the previous archive.

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