Weekend Round-Up 2006 #41

The Age

A week short of Remembrance Day and Michael McKernan reviews the new book by Les Carlyon, The Great War. A lot of people have been waiting for this after the author got a great reception for his previous work, Gallipoli. "It still clutches at us, the Great War; it can still summon powerful emotions. Why, travellers ask with increasing insistence as the tour progresses, did those in charge keep doing this to decent young Australians. Five thousand five hundred lost at Fromelles; 27,000 seven weeks later by the end of Pozieres and Mouquet Farm. Too much death, too much terrible injury and suffering. Why? ... Les Carlyon takes nearly 800 pages in search of an answer and while there are sharp and provoking insights on many pages, at the end, he too is still scratching his head." It bothers us still, yet we celebrate it. We're funny like that.

James Ley looks at Richard Flanagan's latest novel, The Unknown Terrorist, and sees similarities to Andrew McGahan's latest. "The promotional material accompanying the advance copy of The Unknown Terrorist likens the book to a Trojan horse, smuggling in a political message under the guise of a popular thriller. This would be an accurate analogy only if the Greeks had ridden atop their horse as if it were a Mardi Gras float, announcing their intentions to the citizens of Troy with the aid of megaphones." It's not subtle, he says, it "declares its position from the outset and hammers it home for 300 pages." However, it "is a novel that does have some shortcomings, but irrelevance is not one of them."

Short notices are given to: The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott: "The cover promises laughs and violence. There's plenty of the latter but not everyone will find the former and overall the novel will most definitely not be to everyone's taste"; Simmo: Cricket Then and Now by Bob Simpson: "He's not one of the high-flying personalities of Australian cricket, but he is one of the more uniquely placed players in the history of the game, having played through the '50s and '60s, then come out of the retirement in the '70s as Test captain and later Test coach"; Socialist Champion: Portrait of the Gentleman as a Crusader by John Barnes: "Henry Hyde Champion (1859-1929), as John Barnes' absorbing and meticulously researched study shows, was not a man who lent himself to easy categorisation"; The Travel Writer by Simone Lazaroo who "has written an eloquent third novel that follows the fortunes of three generations of the de Sequeira family"; The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers and Selected Stories by Delia Falconer: "She's capable of etching sentences into the reader's mind and this anthology is a showcase of Falconer's brilliant linguistic economy, her beautifully controlled lyricism and her uncanny ability to find the right word for the right occasion."

The Australian

Justine Ettler looks at two second novels in The Gospel According to Luke by Emily Maguire and Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls by Danielle Wood. Of Gospel: "Maguire's work aspires to the televisual, to the TV soap, when it could aspire to the cinematic, to the epic." And of Rosie: "Distracting, elegant, clever, there's something a bit Edwardian gift-shop about Wood's story collection. More of a pretty diversion than an entertainment, Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls is something to place on the bedside table next to the bottles of designer essential oils, for dipping into occasionally. I enjoyed these odd stories, or stories of oddness, up to a point but ultimately had no idea why she was telling them or why I was reading them." Which doesn't bode all that well.

Short notices are given to: The 7.56 Report by John Clarke: "Closest thing we've produced to Pete and Dud: bloody brilliant"; Burn: The Epic Story of Bushfire in Australia by Paul Collins, who asks "How are we to live in a way that fits in with the most fire-prone place on earth?".

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 6, 2006 9:41 PM.

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