Weekend Round-Up 2006 #21

The Age:
The big publishing news around Melbourne during the week was the "unmasking" of the author of a new "exquisite erotic novel" to be published by Penguin. The word is that Sonya Hartnett, talented young adult and children's author, was the true writer of the book. Neither Hartnett nor Penguin will confirm the matter, but Jane Sullivan seems reasonably convinced in her article about pen-names, and Peter Craven takes it as fact in his review of the novel in question. Before I go on to Craven's view of this novel, I should point out that he has been a very vocal advocate for Hartnett's work in the past, believing that "she belongs to the handful of Australian writers who should command world attention". In fact, in this review he refers to her as "the finest Australian writer of her generation", which isn't too shabby. So it comes as a bit of a shock when he hates this book, which he refers to as "Mills & Boon for lubricious lay-abouts". You have to wonder what what brought this book into the world.

The paper's political editor, Michelle Grattan, has a look at The Longest Decade by George Megalogenis: "Megalogenis' account does not pretend to be a behind-the-scenes story of how decisions were made within the Keating and Howard governments. We already have much of that on record for Keating's days; the Howard historians are yet to get into swing...This is the view from the helicopter, with the pilot carrying binoculars, allowing him to share with his passengers an enormous range of detail. While occasionally this overwhelms, the book is a good read for those wanting to understand two politicians who have made a real difference to modern Australia."

Short notices are given to: The Wran Era edited by Troy Bramston: "As other commentators point out, including editor Troy Bramston, Wran was also the one who kept the flag of Labor flying in the darkest days after the Whitlam sacking when even some insiders thought the party might not survive"; In Off the Red by Ken Marks: "reads like a legal judgement handed down by the author on his own life and times"; Number 8 by Anna Fienberg: "her strengths are evident in the gentle evocations of nascent teenage love and genuine affection between children and parents."

The Australian:
Graeme Blundell, regular crime reviewer for "The Australian", profiles Kathryn Fox, whose first novel, Malicious Intent, is gathering some favorable notices around the traps, and whose second novel, Without Consent, has just been published. Blundell quotes her at the start of the piece: "The greatest mystery is why people buy 'unsolved mystery' books...I so don't understand that. We read crime for redemption, of course, for resolution for all the good things you count on in life." Which sounds about right. Blundell considers that she writes better than Canadian Kathy Reichs "(too stilted and without style)" and is far less baroque than Patricia Cornwell. The piece isn't on the website so far as I can find.

After that opening it seems to be all non-fiction in "The Australian". People are generally split on their attitudes to Peter Singer - leading intellectal on the one hand, and leading looney on the other. His latest book, The Ethics of What We Eat (which he co-wrote with Jim Mason), is reviewed by Stephen Romei. "Irrespective of where you stand on ethical eating - and, as Singer and Mason point out, most people don't stand anywhere because they have not thought about it - this book will provide, yes, here it comes, serious food for thought." Thank you, Stephen. That'll do.

Peter Carey is gettng a lot of attention for his latest novel and he has a presence in Leaving Paradise: My Expat Adventure and Other Stories by Sonia Harford, reviewed by Sue Green: "The book's title is drawn from a comment by Australian poet Fay Zwicky, who said Australians were the most homesick of travellers because they believed they came from paradise and nowhere else could compare. For many of those whom Harford interviewed, however, that is simply not so. With them in mind, the title carries a certain irony."

I like it when reviewers get to the point straight away, and John Carmody does that with his review of The Australian Miracle: An Innovative Nation Revisited by Thomas Barlow: "Is this title - like The Lucky Country - intended to be ironic (but misunderstood)? If I am undecided, so is the author. Thomas Barlow has some important matters to argue but, as with ores in a marginal mine, it takes determination to extract them. The subtitle seems to dispel the notion of irony, although the book reads as if the author really believes that when there have been scientific or technological miracles in Australia, they have occurred despite our way of thinking." I'd stick with irony again.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 22, 2006 3:33 PM.

Extract: Theft by Peter Carey was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian Bookcovers #13 - The Mystery of the Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume is the next entry in this blog.

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