Weekend Round-Up 2007 #5

The Age

James Bradley has some reservations about Rodney Hall's novel Love Without Hope, even as he is able to see what the author is trying to achieve; "...Love without Hope -- and indeed much of Hall's writing -- resembles no one so much as Patrick White. More than any other Australian writer working today he shares White's sense of brooding mysticism and interest in the grotesqueries and folly of everyday life...Yet while the intensity of White's vision can be overwhelming, there is an essential delicacy and humanity to it that Hall's novels often lack, for all the filigree of their imagining. In Love without Hope this is particularly true -- Hall drives the proceedings so hard, so maniacally, that there is little space for the reader to take their breath, or indeed for the language to unfold itself."

The Australian

The fact that Garry Disher has a new novel out is certainly a cause for celebration in my house, as he writes police procedurals as good as any to be found. Graeme Blundell, the paper's resident crime fiction reviewer, takes a look at Chain of Evidence, the fourth Challis and Destry novel. (Take note of the changing nature of this series: the previous three were referred to only as Inspector Challis novels.) Blundell certainly thinks that Disher has served up a beauty this time: "In his best novel yet in what has been a distinguished career, he propels us methodically yet elegiacally, the past impending on the present and setting the future into sometimes quite astonishing motion. The self-interest of his supporting characters dangerously interferes with decency and truth, against a backdrop of an overstretched police force frequently corrupt, rife with division and sexual and racial prejudices." In other words, why aren't you reading this already? "Now on the same procedural shelf as international greats such as John Harvey, Tony Hillerman and Ian Rankin, Disher brings crime fiction back to simple facts, the painful themes that churn beneath banal surfaces. No one works the flat, elided planes of realism better."

Steven Carroll's previous two novels were shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, and, from what Debra Adelaide has to say about his latest, The Time We Have Taken, he may well be in line for another shot at the prize. "In The Time We Have Taken, there are few dramatic events and almost no plot. Instead there is meticulous interrogation of the small moments that shape life...This slow, contemplative novel suggests several other great writers: Carol Shields with her ability to turn inside out the everyday in domestic life and reveal its unexpected glories. It also reminds me of Gerald Murnane's genius for mapping the endless detours of the creative mind...His sentences are impeccable. The small faults are not worth mentioning. The author of six novels and twice short-listed for the Miles Franklin award, Carroll is on some kind of journey, and he deserves to reach his destination." I can state that the two previous novels in this sequence (hard to call it a trilogy as there may be a fourth) were excellent. So I'm not surprised this one is up to the standard described.

Liam Davison appears to have enjoyed Rodney Hall's Love Without Hope more than James Bradley (above). "A new Hall novel always brings mixed degrees of anticipation and trepidation, not least because he is capable of writing across such a broad range of modes that we never know quite what to expect...If the narrative is surprisingly conventional, it's what Hall does with it to explore the emotional and spiritual anxieties of his characters -- and to a degree, of a nation -- that sets this exquisitely written novel apart...He's never one for straight social realism, though, and the real strength of his achievement here is the ease with which such a seemingly ordinary world opens to reveal the spiritual and metaphysical anxieties behind it."

Three Australian novels in the one week. Something to be celebrated there I think.

Christopher Bantick finds that Pip Newling's memoir, Knockabout Girl, "has much to offer readers in its spare, unsentimental writing, with Newling avoiding the potentially maudlin pitfalls of introspection, although she does make occasional reference to herself, such as noting in remote places 'how infectious bitterness could be'. The result is a cache of sharply defined summations of experiences, her own and those of the people she encounters."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 20, 2007 3:03 PM.

Elizabeth Jolley (1923-2007) was the previous entry in this blog.

Review: Love Without Hope by Rodney Hall is the next entry in this blog.

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