Weekend Round-Up 2007 #1

The Age

Christopher Bantick looks at two books on Australians in wartime: The Strength of a Nation by Michael McKernan, and Defying the Odds: Surviving Sandakan and Kuching by Michele Cunningham. (The review is not on the website.)

McKernan's book "serves two purposes. First, it offers an impressively compressed history of Australia's participation in World War II. Second, it distils the impact of war on individuals from personal stories. These cover both military participation abroad and those at home supprting the war effort...It is McKernan's ability to meld factual information with the personal experience of war that makes this book a readily appreciated and at times moving read...Although McKernan's book has some informative photographs, Cunningham is heavily, and necessarily, reliant on materials retained by prisoners after the end of the war. There are many photographs, copies of letters and reproductions of artwork created in the camps...This augments what is a story highlighting men of peerless resilience and endeavour who daily faced starvation and the threat of physical punishment."

Gig Ryan is impressed with two new collections of poetry (and again the review is not on the website): the flower, the thing by M.T.C. Cronin, and latecomers by Jaya Savige. "In Cronin's poetry the meaning is efflorescence, the surge of observations and musings that bustle forth...latecomers is a poised debut ranging from half-rhymed lyrics to some clever pantoums, but -- like many recent poetry collections -- elegies for parents and the Iraq invasion prevail...[It] is one of the most vibrantly intelligent first books of the past few years."

In other sections: Ursula Dubosarsky remembers the first adult novel she read as a child; Marieke Hardy searches for Mr Write at one of the State Library's "literary speed dating" nights; literary editor, Jason Steger, delves into what 2005's book sales figures tell us about our lives; Cate Kennedy examines the role of the short story; and Marion Halligan revels in the art of a good gossip.

The Australian

Nothing Australian that I noticed.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Shane Brady considers the Australian sense of humour during a review of A Serious Frolic: Essays on Australian Humour by Dr Jessica Milner Davis, of the University of NSW. According to this Sydney academic, "the roots of our sense of humour may run far deeper than the Anzacs' - and even the convicts' - gallows humour and deep disdain for authority." Charles Darwin, and early white settlers, commented on the sense of humour exhibited by Australia's indigenous inhabitants, and "it would seem Aboriginal humour has been sharpened by adversity".

The Courier-Mail

"For some readers, a new Bryce Courtenay novel is the one book they buy each year." So says Christopher Bantick in his pre-Christmas profile of the author, and review of his new novel, Sylvia. Though, with the novel being "placed at No. 6 in an anticipated Christmas book-buying spree...Sylvia is perhaps not being regarded with the same enthusiasm of earlier Courtenay novels...Part of this may be due to the subject matter. Bloodletting and menstruation in medieval history may alienate some of Courtenay's core female audience." I haven't seen any returns from Christmas sales as yet.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 9, 2007 11:53 AM.

Australian Bookcovers #46 - The Children's Bach by Helen Garner was the previous entry in this blog.

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