Weekend Round-Up 2006 #13

Marshall Browne continues to get exposure for his new novel, Rendezvous at Kamakura Inn, which is reviewed in "The Age" by Jeff Glorfeld. This is Browne's first novel in a new series featuring Inspector Hideo Aoki, of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's Criminal Investigation Bureau. I'm not sure that Glorfeld is overly convinced by the end result: "As with kabuki, Browne writes in a strangely stilted style, as if he has been translated awkwardly from another language. As if in a ritualistic theatre performance, Aoki's inner narration continually loops back over his thoughts, his moral turmoil. It isn't a big book, in this sealed-off stage Browne has set, but by moving slowly, examining every action and reaction over and over again, it takes on the feel of an epic. In a Japanese way, it becomes an article of duty to see the story through to its conclusion." Though he does then go on to conclude: "Readers might throw it down in frustration, but they will probably pick it up again. It can get to you like that, and rewards those who do their duty and see it through to the end." So, it's rewarding but hard work? Can't see a problem with that.

I'd prefer it if reviewers didn't equivocate: don't extrapolate on what some readers might do, state clearly what you thought of it and let readers make up their own minds. I take statements such as "Readers might throw it down in frustration" as a direct challenge, but I'm contrary like that.

The Australian continent and fire have had an intimate relationship ever since the land was first visited however many thousands of years ago. It's a strange mixture of love and hate. Stephen Pyne's new book, The Still-Burning Bush, examines the role that fire has played in the life of this country, which, as Simon Caterson notes, resonates beyond these shores. "The scientific and political importance of fire in Australia is matched by its cultural significance...Australians also have a habit of naming and commemorating fires - Ash Wednesday is an obvious example - which is not replicated elsewhere. For all the death and destruction caused by fire every year, the intense interest in these events is a sign that, like war and sport, fire defines us as a nation." This is a sequel to Pyne's early book, Burning Bush, his history of Australian fire up to the 1980s.

Shotr notices are given to: Aristotle's Nostril by Morris Gleitzman: "Parents and librarians around the nation worship Gleitzman for seducing their children to the world of words and books. And they trust him, for alongside the humour he is consistently compassionate and persistently optimistic"; The Mermaid Tree by Robert Tiley, an "accessible, entertaining study" of the exploration of Australia after the battle of Waterloo; and Venom by Dorothy Horsfield, who "has an acute eye for the way people misunderstand one another. But, just as her characters invent each other, they can equally have moments of insight."

Over in "The Australian", Ross Fitzgerald looks at autobiographies by two former judges who were also both ex-communists: In Off the Red by Ken Marks, and Comrade Roberts: Recollections of a Trotskyite by Kenneth Gee. And a mixed bag he finds them as well.

In addition, Debra Adelaide reviews Drink Me by Skye Rogers, which falls directly into the "Harrowing Memoir" genre, and Christopher Bantick is impressed with Patrice Newell's memoir of life on the land, Ten Thousand Acres: A Love Story.

Jason Nahrung considers Scott Westerfeld's new young adult novel, Peeps, in "The Courier-Mail", and finds that "the ride is fun and at times spooky and beautifully sketched". On the other hand, Leisa Scott did not like Carry Me Down by M.J. Hyland at all, throwing the book down in disgust, before picking it up again to get stuck into it. An uncommon review in Australian newspapers.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 27, 2006 3:02 PM.

Miles Franklin Award Commentary was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian Bookcovers #5 - Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en