Reviews of Australian Books #29

Last week Lynne Barber in "The Telegraph" wasn't all that keen on David Thomson's Nicole Kidman, and this week we have the opposite end of the spectrum with Tom Rosentahl in "The Independent" calling it "... the most illuminating book about a film star that I've read." Though, on second thoughts, that might not be as much high praise as I originally perceived.

Austlit, "The Resource for Australian Literature", lists Michel Faber, author of The Crimson Petal and the White, so I feel safe in being able to include him in this section. He's now published The Apple, a collection of stories which can be read as a sequel, of sorts, to his earlier novel. David Robson reviews it in "The Telegraph" and finds good and bad in the end result: "This may be an unsatisfactory curate's egg of a book, but Faber remains an unrivalled master of his subject."

Also in "The Telegraph", Katie Owen has a brief look (10th item down) at the UK paperback edition of Kate Grenville's The Secret River: "A family story on an epic scale, made all the more absorbing by Grenville's loving evocation of her native landscape."

And Stephanie Cross follows up, on the same page, with a note on Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee: "A light comedy of manners is also a touching study of human vulnerability."

Peter Conrad in "The Guardian" wonders whether David Thomson is wandering a tad close to pornography in his biography Nicole Kidman: "Thomson has written some of the best books about film; Nicole Kidman is, I suppose, a forgivable bout of elderly nympholepsy. But he is lucky to have such an understanding wife."

As is his wont, Jonathan Yardley has written a long, detailed and definitive review of Robert Hughes's new memoir, Things I Didn't Know in "The Washington Post". "Now Hughes has turned his hand to autobiography, with predictably and gratifyingly rewarding results. His has been a writer's life, and, like most such lives, it has been primarily a life of the mind. Such drama as he has experienced -- two unhappy marriages before a lucky third one, the suicide of his 33-year-old son, a terrible auto accident that brought him within a breath of death -- certainly has been painful, but except for the accident, he devotes relatively little space to these matters in this memoir, preferring reticence over display where private business is concerned, a merciful choice in this age of self-servingly confessional memoirs that attempt to cash in on real or fancied business of the most intimate nature."

In the same paper, the reviews of Thompson's Nicole Kidman continue with Louis Bayard finding that the author "wants Kidman, in short, to be the alabaster emblem of the cinema's own contradictions, but the more he plumps for her larger relevance, the more he reinforces how private his obsession really is."

I'm not sure if the new review of Geoffrey Robertson's The Tyrannicide Brief in the "San Francisco Chronicle" indicates a new paperback edition, or a long-delayed initial publication. You'll recall that it tells the story of John Cooke, the man who prosecuted Charles I of England for treason. Both died at the executioner's hand. Robertson "gives us a tragic hero: a man whose intelligence and devotion to fairness can't save him from being swept up by the tornado of revolution." That's Cooke, not Charles.

[Update: I've fixed the spelling of Michel Faber's first name.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 25, 2006 11:56 AM.

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