Weekend Round-Up 2007 #8

The Age

Peter Pierce, former professor of Australian Literature at James Cook University reviews two Australian novels by writers at opposite ends of their careers. [The review isn't on the website.] Both books deal with "the master theme of realist fiction: adultery and its consequnces."

Jon Cleary published his first novel, You Can't See Round Corners in 1947, and his latest Four-Cornered Circle has appeared in his 90th year. Pierce believes the author "belongs, after all, in a distinguished tradition of Catholic-Australian novelists, to speak especially of their cultural and social backgrounds and of their recurrent moral concerns. To this tradition belong two other prolific and internationally renowned authors - Morris West and Thomas Keneally...Matters of individual conscience are crucial in the work of all three. Cleary's novel focuses on a conflict between professional and personal responsibilities, which is pragmatically resolved."

Andrea Mayes published her first novel in her 50th year, and has just released her second, Shearwater. Unfortunately, Pierce doesn't feel the plot engages us, "despite the neatness and confidence of her organisation of the story."

The Australian

"Evolution of a Fiery Soul" is the title given to Karen Lamb's review of With Love and Fury: Selected letters of Judith Wright edited by Patricia Clarke and Meredith McKinney. "Literary biographers often wonder whether the letters of their subjects offer a unique biographical truth, in the belief that most of us are more ourselves in the company of others. This tends to ignore an altogether different truth that biographers know only too well: letters can be a cesspit of misplaced personal motive, unglamorous attitudes and just plain vitriol..." The hidden gems in the book consist of "fragments or full letters that make sense of the preoccupations, the love and the fury. Much of the background material is rendered sympathetically perhaps (Wright's daughter is one of the editors) and no doubt there are certain letters we would like to see but never will. At least the range is over Wright's lifetime and allows us to reflect on the nature of such a complex personality and a highly individual life."

Jon Cleary's novel, Four-Cornered Circle is also reviewed by Christopher Bantick who finds that there "is great tenderness in this memorable novel...At its core, Cleary focuses on how prepared people are to sacrifice much to retain love; the problem lies in identifying love within oneself and not allowing transient distractions to get in its way."

A genre is not often reviewed in the mainstream papers is manga. Given there aren't many practitioners of the art in Australia, this is hardly surprising. But Queenie Chan is one such, and she has recently published The Dreaming, which is reviewed this week by Cefn Ridout. "Manga is on the move. Even casual observers of popular culture could hardly fail to notice the influence of Japanese comics, alongside their animated sibling anime, on film, computer games, fashion and even cosmetics. Coupled with a resurgent interest in graphic novels in the West, the once exclusively Japanese publishing phenomenon has ventured well beyond its borders."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 13, 2007 3:24 PM.

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