Reviews of Australian Books #36

Lisa Hilton reviews Lian Hearn's new fantasy novel, The Harsh Cry of the Heron, in "The Telegraph": "From The Lord of the Rings to Malory Towers there is a fascination in a certain type of children's literature with hierarchy and organisation, and the first 300 pages of this latest instalment of the popular 'Tales of the Otori' saga can make heavy going as the warlords, mystics and even the horses of Lian Hearn's mythicised Japan, the Three Countries, are wheeled onstage to have their purpose explained...Once the story hits its stride, there is much to enjoy - treacherous plots, possession by the spirits, some cracking battle scenes, and Lian Hearn writes with a delicate attention to detail that creates an all-encompassing world around her characters."

Alan Brownjohn welcomes the latest poetry collection from Les Murray, The Bi-plane Houses, in "The Sunday Times". "It is rare to find a writer who carries the reader along with such exuberant delight in the art, even through a number of defiantly puzzling passages. Some excellent poets can be difficult to quote from. Murray provides an embarrassment of choices: on animal noses ('no stench is infra dog'), or money ('The more invisible the money / the vaster and swifter its action'), or dolphins ('like 3D surfboards / born in the ocean, (they) curvet / around fenced oyster gardens')...Murray is not an easy poet; yet he can be amazingly rewarding in poems where you have to work a bit to match the complexity of his images with the landscapes he is trying to capture in them."

We don't often get new reviews of very old Australian books, so I was interested to come across Jonathan Scanlon's review of William Lane's The Working Man's Paradise: An Australian Labour Novel. "Originally published in 1892, it was written to explain unionism and 'socialism' to all who were interested, and to raise funds for the release of gaoled unionists. Since then, it has become part of Australia's literary heritage, and I relished reading every passage of this fine work of propaganda." In this day and age, the title comes across as very ironic. The book, by the way, is in the public domain, and you can download a PDF eBook of the text from The University of Sydney.

DLanguageArchitect in Singapore, provides a short review of Kate Grenville's The Secret River, suggesting that "The first few pages remind me of Conrad's Heart of Darkness."

If you haven't had enough yet of David Thompson's Book Nicole Kidman, then I suggest you hie yourself over to to the metacritic website for their round-up of reviews of the book. Their final verdict: 44 out of 100 - no so flash. Reviews range from Tim Rosenthal in "The Independent": "This is the most illuminating book about a film star that I've read."; to "The New Yorker" review: "What begins as an analysis of stardom ends up as a case study of fandom."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 16, 2006 10:10 AM.

Robert Hughes on "Enough Rope" was the previous entry in this blog.

2006 Melbourne Prize for Literature is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en