Weekend Round-Up 2006 #19

After a very quiet week last time round, "The Age" looks at a lot more Australian books in it's latest Review.

They start with The Felton Illuminated Manuscripts in the National Gallery of Victoria by Margaret M. Manion, reviewed by Stephanie Trigg, Professor of English Literature at the University of Melbourne. This is not a book for everyone: the focus appears very limted, and the price of $99 a tad prohibitive. Still it looks and sounds lavish, and seems to cover quite a range of illuminated books from around the 1500s. "Manion's book is not a comprehensive facsimile, rather it is a scholarly study of these works, marked on every page by her knowledge and experience of medieval manuscripts and their production, a testament to the enduring popularity of the Melbourne collection."

"Linda Jaivin has many strings to her bow - she's an eminent Sinologist, an author of comic erotica, a prolific essayist, and a passionate advocate for refugees. It is the latter that motivates her latest novel." Which seems as good an introduction as any to the review by Cameron Woodhead of Jaivin's, The Infernal Optimist. "Refreshingly, Jaivin tackles the treatment of asylum seekers through comedy...And, while Jaivin does not skimp on the psychological horrors of life in detention, she doesn't wallow in them either. Mostly, they come straight from the headlines: hunger strikes, sewn-up lips, depression, madness, suicide." I wonder if the humour makes the subject easier to cope with. Certainly can't make it any worse.

The most interesting of the books considered, to me at least, is Angela Pippos's The Goddess Advantage: One Year in the Life of a Football Worshipper. Those of us in Melbourne will know who Pippos is - the sports reporter for ABC TV news - and some will also be aware that she is a mad Adelaide Crows supporter. She wins on all counts in my book. Ian Syson reviews her memoir/diary and seems rather perplexed by what he finds: "It's hard to tell in the end just who The Goddess Advantage is aimed at." How about me Ian? I can understand it, and fully sympathise.

Short notices are given to: Unravelling Identity: Immigrants, Identity and Citizenship in Australia by Trevor Batrouney and John Goldlust: "This may be a specialist text but the subject is one that has both general appeal and topical significance"; City of Animals by Alan Mills "Is a thoroughly researched thriller that realistically portrays the operations of a large zoo. It can get a little graniloquent for the genre but it's still a well-plotted spine-tingler"; Bye, Beautiful by Julia Lawrinson who "is a marvellous writer. Her novel is evocative but economical, capturing the sense of being in a backwater in a time of great social change"; Love Cuts by Ian Bone: "Set in a nameless Australian city, Ian Bone's novel is aimed at young adults and is a healthy antidote to the buckets of drivel that have been written about romantic love"; Doctors at Sea: Emigrant Voyages to Colonial Australia by Robin Haines, whose work "is a microcosm of Victorian hierarchy; class, racial and sectarian feeling (towards the Irish, for instance) on the one hand, and on the other the intregrity and generosity displayed by paternalism at its most high-minded"; and Will Buster and the Carrier's Flash by Odo Hirsch: "While Odo Hirsch's magic is derived from future science rather than ancient spells, there are aspects of the Will Buster series that are not dissimilar to Harry Potter."

The only major work of interest in "The Australian" is The Longest Decade by George Megalogenis, reviewed by Ross Fitzgerald. The book covers the period of the Keating and Howard Prime Minsterships, and has bene a very long decade as far as this voter is concerned. "Megalogenis's primary aim is to tell two intertwined stories, the political and the cultural, about the economy and society produced by Keating and Howard as two of the nation's most influential treasurers and prime ministers. He does this superbly well." Although coming from similar backgrounds it would be hard to pick two such different men: Howard is a big "C" Conservative in political terms and yet very basic in his cultural and sporting tastes, Keating was a progressive small "l" liberal politically, almost "elitist" culturally and had no interest in sport at all. Sounds like one of the best Australian political books around.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 8, 2006 2:56 PM.

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