Weekend Round-Up 2006 #26

Is it winter? Is that the reason for the lack of new Australian books around at present? Do we only read on the beach? Well, not this little black duck. I don't go to the beach. Give me a warm fire, a good light and a full glass of muscat and I'm in heaven. No flies, no sand, no sunburn. In any event the literary activity in Australia is about as cold as the weather. Though there are a few gems here and there.

The Age

The new biography of Kylie Tennant (author of such novels as The Battlers and Ride on Stranger) by Jane Grant is reviewed by Peter Pierce. The book is the second in a series, being produced by the National Library of Australia, titled An Australian Life.

"The literary history of the inter-war period in Australia was in significant part the work of such female authors as Tennant, Eleanor Dark, Jean Devanny, Katharine Prichard (with the latter two, Tennant bitterly fell out over politics). Their novels depicted working and underprivileged Australia to the reading public, many of whom knew little of it."

Short notices are given to: Time for Change: Australia in the 21st Century edited by Tim Wright: "In this spirited collection of essays from a diverse range of public figures, Michael Kirby argues for dissent if democracy is to flourish, Pat O'Shane proposes a separate portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs to address problems in the indigenous community, and Julia Gillard advocates the rebuilding of the public realm in health care"; and Eddie's Country: Why Did Eddie Murray Die? by Simon Luckhurst: "Both stirring and bleak, Eddie's Country is about an epic struggle for justice and the depths of denial that allow such miscarriages of justice to prevail".

The Australian

Marion Halligan kicks of this week's literary offerings with a piece titled "Sex and the Singular Woman". Taking Sonya Hartnett's latest offering, Landscape with Animals (published under the name Cameron S. Redfern), she looks at the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, Peter Craven's reaction to Hartnett's novel (which I covered here), reviewer's reactions to her own books, and in the middle of all that, produces a review of the Hartnett novel. She gets the jokes, the melodrama and deliberate exaggerations:

"This is such good writing. It is the work of someone who loves words, who loves writing and reading, who understands how language works and how words can be put together to touch the heart and the mind and make the reader glad that there are still people in the world who can do this.

"And yes, it is about sex; why not? Why should that challenge people, even threaten them? Especially men reading about women doing it. How useful it would be if they could admit this feeling, and examine it. What about a good sex in fiction award? For good writing about good sex. Wouldn't that be fun?"

So, that's three reviews so far, one male against and two females for.

The novelist Alan Gold takes a big swipe at John Pilger's Freedom Next Time, concluding that it "can best be defined as a gigantic kvetch by a man who rails against a world that isn't run the way he wants. Only a blind neo-con would argue that all's well with the world; only a fool would argue that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought universal benefits; but only a rabid Savonarola such as Pilger would argue that the world's ills are the responsibility of the US and its allies."

Short notices are given to: Monica Bloom by Nick Earls, in whose main character the author "convincingly creates a reflective teenage narrator to show how even the worthwhile pursuit of love is often beyond our means"; Monkey Undercover by Garielle Lord, who "is a favourite with adult readers and her fast dialogue, taut narrative and charismatic charcaters - without the violence - have fashioned an exciting, suburban adventure story bound to be a success with younger readers"; Allie McGregor's True Colours by Sue Lawson "who shows that [a miserable teenage life] can only get better and that, despite sometimes being a nuisance, familial love is all we have in the end"; The Nightfish by Helen McCosker: "Using beautifully toned paintings that sweep across the page, Helen McCosker's first picture book is an environmental fable with only the occasional tangled sentence that doesn't stand up to being read aloud"; Weeping Waters by Anne Marie Nicholson whose "fiction debut augurs well; importantly, she's taking on big subjects and big themes"; and The Stone Angel by Katherine Scholes: "What she has written, with precision, is a novella stretched across a very large frame and wrapped in good writing".

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 26, 2006 4:05 PM.

Reviews of Australian Books #23 was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian Bookcovers #18 - The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith by Tom Keneally is the next entry in this blog.

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