Weekend Round-Up 2006 #9

"The Weekend Australian" appears to be playing fast and loose with its book reviews again, dropping (or not including) a couple of interesting reviews of Australian novels from their website. But we won't let that deter us.

Ingrid Wassenaar reviews James Bradley's The Resurrectionist which she describes as a "gothic thriller". The first part of the novel is set in 1826, in London, and tells the story of Gabriel Swift, apprentice to a leading anatomist. The second part, which functions as a coda, is set in NSW some ten years later. "Bradley has constructed a very plausible, decadent novel with all the ingredients we might expect, and brings a special postmodern twist to it in the telling. Gabriel shifts in our perception from reliable to disturbing because of how he narrates his story...The Resurrectionist wears its research lightly, but its themes - good versus evil, the links between sex and death, the possibility of resurrection, the corporeal versus the spiritual - can poke through too sharply. It is a compelling read, but not a comfortable ride." I take this last point as being mildly critical. I don't have a problem with novels being uncomfortable, in fact I thought the better ones always were.

Kerryn Goldsworthy looks at Beyond the Break by Sandra Hall and finds that it doesn't quite reach the heights that were within its grasp:

"Hall is a highly experienced journalist and author and her skills as a professional writer stand her in very good stead: the narrative voice is confident and consistent, and the management of the chronology is clever. Yet as is more than likely in a novel about childhood friendships that survive through adolescence and beyond, there's a certain amount - perhaps a bit too much - of Musical Blokes happening in this novel's plot, as the two girls move in on each other's exes and create further complications for their friendship as well as for the plot.

"While the book's narrative backbone is formed by these relationships and their complex dynamics, what's really memorable about it remains the vision of Sydney and the intriguing, infuriating and still mysterious character of Irene. It almost feels as though there is a second and quite different book in there trying to break through the surface of this one."

Azhar Abidi's Passorala Rising is reviewed by Isabel McIntosh who finds it flawed, though most of these seem like first novel flaws rather than anything fatal in the long-term. "Abidi's writing is best when the action is on the ground, yet for most of the novel the reader is high above the earth and tremined too many times by the narrators that 'for someone who has ever sailed on a long voyage, the hours aboard a ship would see long and tedious.' He pops the balloon of intrigue by opening chapters with lines such as 'the flight to Danzig was without incident' or 'the remainder of Spartiate's journey was safe and uneventful.'" Doesn't matter, I'm going to read it anyway.

In other reviews, Emma Tom is impressed with Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan, a memoir by a "former Australian media mover and shaker" whose life falls apart with the death of her husband and brother within three days of each other; and Cath Keneally finds that Safety by Tegan Bennett Daylight is an "admirable excursion from a gifted writer".

"The Age" has Peter Temple reviewing The History of the Times: The Murdoch Years by Graham Stewart, which he calls "an entertaining but obese history".

Glyn Davis comes to the conclusion that Anson Cameron didn't meet his own ambitions in the writing of Lies I Told About a Girl. Though the book certainly seems to be aiming for a lot. And that can't be a bad thing, surely.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 27, 2006 2:05 PM.

2005 Aurealis Awards Winners was the previous entry in this blog.

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