Weekend Round-Up 2006 #6

James Bradley reviews the new novel from Gail Jones, Dreams of Speaking, in Saturday's "Weekend Age". The author's previous work Sixty Lights, was longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize, narrowly missed the 2005 Miles Franklin Award, won the 2005 Age Fiction Book of the Year, and has recently been longlisted for the 2006 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, so there's a fair pedigree there. And a lot to live up to. As Bradley puts it:

In more than one respect Dreams of Speaking, Jones' third novel, reiterates many of the concerns of its predecessor. Again the focus is on the inner dimensions of modernity and their implications for our understanding of our selves.

Again the novel moves restlessly through time and space, layering the images out of which it is woven over each other so the ways they catch each other shift and change, altering their meanings and our understanding of them as they do. And, again, at the novel's centre is an unconventional friendship between an older man and a younger woman.

Bradley is very enthusiastic about the book, though he does criticise Jones's "tendency to over-egg the writing". But this is a minor quibble as he concludes: "Closer in many respects to poetry than prose, her writing seeks to articulate meanings that run deeper than language, while marrying that quest to the emotional rewards more commonly associated with the novel. And, in this, Dreams of Speaking is quite startlingly effective." Keep an eye out for this novel come award time, both in Australia and elsewhere.

True crime gets a major outing this week with a combined review, by Sue Turnbull, of four, yes four, books on the Peter Falconio trial. I must say it has all the hallmarks of a classic case: missing British tourist presumed murdered, a girlfriend who appears on the surface to have something to hide, dodgy DNA evidence, a crime committed in the middle of nowhere, and a career criminal convicted of the murder four and a half years after the event. A friend told me on the weekend that she had read two of these books and was surprised, given the evidence and the way it was presented, that Murdoch was convicted at all. I think the media-frenzy and the race to produce so many books on the one criminal trial, is unprecendented in this country. Look on it as the sign of things to come.

In "The Australian", Justine Ettler reviews the new novel by Anson Cameron, Lies I Told About a Girl. This novel includes a ficitonalised account of the year that Prince Charles spent at Timbertop, part of Geelong Grammar. It was a time before princesses and media intrusion and it "tackles some pretty hefty themes: class, power and, in particular, the way a privileged background can make a person more vulnerable to death-by-media than the average citizen." Ettler concludes: "In a similar vein to Kate Shortland's powerful film Somersault, which dramatises class divide through the depiction of an impossible relationship between a teenage runaway and a grazier's son, all is not fair in love and war. Well structured, thoughtful, its pleasures bittersweet, Cameron's is a memorable novel worth getting your teeth into."

Cameron is profiled in "The Sunday Age", with a full-page piece from Michelle Griffin. Authors must pray for this sort of coverage. Probably helps if you have a profile like an axe.

On the eve of the publication of his first novel, Passarola Rising, Azhar Abidi is profiled by Angela Bennie in "The Sydney Morning Herald". Abidi is the author of the highly regarded essay, "The Secret History of the Flying Carpet", which was published in Meanjin in 2004. Interesting story about how his novel came to be published.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 6, 2006 2:02 PM.

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