Weekend Round-Up 2006 #35

The Age

The 2006 winner of "The Australian"/Vogel Award has just been announced, and we are greeted with Peter Pierce's review of last year's winner, Tuvalu by Andrew O'Connor. Pierce seems quite impressed by the work: "Tuvalu relishes the risks that it takes: a main character whose passivity would be irksome if his moral dimensions were not intimated, his acquaintances who withhold so much of themselves, sometimes until they are beyond help...These are not aimless, but recklessly directed lives. In probing them, O'Connor has begun a career that may yet take him as far as several of his predecessors have gone."

Peter Craven has lots of good things to say about Inga Clendinnen's new collection of essays, Agamemnon's Kiss. He thinks she is "essayist from one of the high orders of the heavenly hosts. It's that ability to swoop and woo that is written all over this rich and deeply satisfying collection of essays that will beguile and arrest the mind in the manner of the great essayists, from Montaigne to Chesterton"; and even "This is a beautiful book and it will nourish almost every kind of reader like manna from heaven."

The poet John Kinsella got into a spot of bother a month or so back with a couple of fellow Australian poets, Anthony Lawrence and Bob Adamson, over some statements in this book, Fast, Loose Beginnings: A Memoir of Intoxications. Thankfully, that all seems to have died now and we can get down to the nitty-gritty of seeing if it's any good or not. Lisa Gorton finds that the author is hard to pin down: "the narrator often treats the main character, himself, as a puzzling person whose behaviour he finds hard to remember, much less explain." Which doesn't sound all that promising. It doesn't get any better at the end: "True or not, Kinsella's account of his intense, antagonistic friendship with Lawrence shows the true argument of this memoir, which you might also call its defining myth - the tangled nature of a poet's relationships." So, does that mean the poet's life and relationships are a mess and so is this memoir? Or what? I think I missed something.

Short notices are given to: Ghost Railways of Australia by Robin Bromby: "It's not so much about the days when railways were an important factor in shaping settlement in Australia (and a massive source of long-time, loyal employment), it's a study of the fast-fading remnants of that world"; Radio with Pictures: 50 Years of Australian Television by Brendan Horgan: "We've had 50 years of the flat-faced monster now, and this survey of TV in Australia is a history of the medium as well as something of a cultural history"; and The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton, who "is a young Queensland writer who has pulled off a marvellous pastiche that effectively amounts to a combination of du Maurier in style and Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) in content."

The Australian

The big fiction review this week is by Liam Davidson of The Memory of Tides by Angelo Loukakis. "As far as war stories go, this one has it all: exotic location; mythic potential; a battle of epic proportions; secrecy and subterfuge; unspeakable acts of atrocity; and the unquestioning kindness of strangers that forges bonds that will outlast the war. Introduce a lone Australian soldier and a beautiful Cretan girl and we should all know the rest." Luckily Loukakis doesn't let the novel flounder, he moves it beyond the expected, back to Australia and across the generations. "Loukakis offers the novel as a tribute to those who suffered through the war and took risks to protect Australian soldiers from the Germans. It's also an examination of the bonds formed in war between two seemingly different people and how they can resonate through a lifetime." Something out of the ordinary then.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 25, 2006 2:53 PM.

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