Weekend Round-Up 2006 #20

The big piece in "The Age" this weekend is a profile of the Melbourne writer Jacob Rosenberg, by Juliette Hughes. This comes on the heels of the announcement last week that his memoir, East of Time, has been shortlisted for the Australian Society of Literature Gold Medal. The story of his time spent in the German concentration camp Mauthausen during World War II is best described in the quote: "There was no time: no past, no future, only the present instant. Your life existed between a yes and a no."

The major review of the week is of Killing for Pleasure: The Definitive Story of the Snowtown Serial Murders by Debi Marshall. It tells the story of the discovery of eight butchered bodies in barrels in an empty bank vault in Snowtown, a small village some 150 kilometres north of Adelaide. I used to drive through that town 25 years ago and it was a non-descript, blink-and-you-miss-it, little place. Probably perfect for this type of crime.

Short notices are given to: The Spirit of Gallipoli: The Birth of the Anzac Legend by Patrick Lindsay: "The value of this compact, straight forward account is that you get the full, bloody catastrophe in one sitting"; Waves: Great Stories from the Australian Surf edited by Tim Baker: "However, allergic to hippy-shit you may be, surf mysticism has its own appeal; the quest for the perfect wave, those visions of the physical sublime. But its not all marmalade skies"; Pictures of Us by Todd Alexander: "First time novellist Todd Alexander has woven together a miserable, modern family that he slowly and inexorably teases apart."

In a continuing feature in the paper, Tom Keneally this week looks back at the writing of his first novel: "It was a very Gothic tale. When in doubt, I've always had a weakness for melodramatic bells and whistles. Stylistically, I was all over the place -- there were fairly passable pastishes of the last person I'd read. Here was Patrick White, over there Graham Greene; here Wallace Stevens, over there an inadvisably lush reworking of Dylan Thomas. I wanted some publisher to say, 'This tale might be a bit creaky plot-wise, but gee he can write!'"

In "The Australian" Victoria Laurie reviews Rob Riley: An Aboriginal Leader's Search for Justice by Quentin Beresford. This biography was produced at the request of Riley's family ten years after his death by suicide. "This is a fine book, an illuminating account by a fluent writer who has written solidly researched books on Aboriginal crime and justice (Rites of Passage), the stolen generations (Our State of Mind) and reforming Aboriginal education."

Kathy Hunt is cautious about Tara June Winch's novel, Swallow the Air, which won the David Unaipon Award for indigenous writers. She finds the work a little heavy-handed at times: "A virgin novelist, Winch has yet to learn that, unlike art, language will disintegrate under the weight of the abstract", but is also aware that the fiction here was heavily workshopped by the team at UQP. "Winch has things to say, and beneath the collaborative prose there is a writer trying to say them." Maybe a case of too many cooks.

The book and author are also profiled in "The Sydney Morning Herald" by Sunanda Creagh. "Winch's book could be digested as a novel or a collection of interlocking short stories. It could also be read as extended prose; her style is poetic, even rhyming in some parts. Tragic events are made more poignant by delicate descriptions that manage to avoid being flowery. Most delicious is Winch's ability to unpatronisingly capture accents: 'Bloody millennium come and gone and they still can't treat our people right,' she writes in the voice of an elder, Uncle Graham. 'We seen 40 bloody millenniums, our people, and they government give us credit for that? Only when it suits them, when they gotta show all them tourists.'" It's interesting that one reviewer will find the prose over-blown while the next sees it as almost poetic.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 15, 2006 3:36 PM.

Reviews of Australian Books #18 was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian Bookcovers #12 - The Shiralee by D'Arcy Niland 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