Weekend Round-Up 2007 #13

The Age

The big fiction review this week concerns Love and the Platypus by Nicholas Drayson. Peter Pierce who normally writes interesting, accessible reviews seems oddly uninformative this time round. Beyond a plot summary and a few points of discussion along the way, Pierce doesn't seem to get to grips with what the novel was attempting to say. Is the book worth your time? From this review I couldn't really determine.

Donald Friend was a major Australian painter of the middle to latter part of the 20th century. He seems to have maintained a journal habit thoughout his working life and the National Library of Australia has been publishing a set of his diaries with the 4th and final volume in the series having just hit the shelves.

Ian Britain attempts to come to grips with it: "In the bookshops you'll find it has a sticky label fixed to the jacket: 'The Bali Diaries'. As it turns out, there's a lot more to this final volume of the National Library's monumental edition of Donald Friend's personal journals. It spans some 22 years in the life of one of our most illustrious artists (visual and literary artists, as the journals themselves amply attest), taking us up to within a few months of his death in 1989. For only about half of this time -- the first half -- was he in Bali."

Sheridan Hay's novel, The Secret of Lost Things, is one of those books which occasionally gets me accused of claiming a level of "Australianness" that doesn't actually exist. But a check on the good old web leads me to the view that the author was born here, and the review by Christopher Bantick does state that the book's action starts in Tasmania. It may end up elsewhere, but that's good enough for me. Unfortunately, the review is a bit like Pierce's earlier, descriptive but inconclusive.

The Australian

Dame Elizabeth Murdoch, wife of Keith and mother of Rupert, is one of Melbourne's grand old ladies. She is admired across all spectra of society for her generosity and charity work. She has always struck me as someone whose feet are firmly planted in the ground. And the reason for this might be due to the connection she has had with her family home and the garden that surrounds it. How this garden came into existence is the subject of Anne Latreille's work Garden of a Lifetime: Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at Cruden Farm which is reviewed by Mark McGinness. "In Garden of a Lifetime, Anne Latreille, an established garden writer and former gardening editor of 'The Age', has presented Cruden Farm not only in profile -- as it is today -- but as a biography, through the remarkable stewardship of its owner, Elisabeth

Mary Rose Liverani has a look at Portrait of a Friendship: The Letters of Barbara Blackman and Judith Wright 1950-2000 : "The two friends' letters offer a unique portrait of a period, and of two outstanding women who, despite a fierce
attachment to domestic life, became significant public figures. Australia owes Blackman and Wright a debt of gratitude for having maintained their correspondence so assiduously and for their farsighted exertions to recover their letters for posterity."

William McInnis did it recently and now actor Sophie Lee has written her first novel, Alice in La La Land, which is reviewed by Patricia Anderson. "In a postmodern world of indecipherable conclusions, a fast-paced romp with a clear moral and a happy ending is a delight. Actor Sophie Lee's first novel, Alice in La La Land, introduces a natural storyteller with a firm grasp of the essential differences between Australian and American culture, or at least that deformed pocket of it called Hollywood...Woven through this high-spirited narrative are snatches of dialogue Alice has to memorise and deliver from scripts, and they are uniformly laughable: offered by formless, one-dimensional characters with the usual Hollywood tics and obsessions. Suffice to say, the story races to an entirely satisfying denouement, the kind that made the movie The Castle, in which Lee appeared, such a memorable tale."

The Sydney Morning Herald

You may recall that Will Elliot won the 2006 ABC Fiction Award for his novel The Pilo Family Circus. One of the novels that was highly commended in that competition, The Crimes of Billy Fish by Sarah Hopkins, has now also been published by ABC Books and is reviewed by author Emily Maguire. "On one level this book can be read as a damning indictment of the social welfare and criminal justice systems...There is more to this novel than social critique, however. It is also an examination of grief as something not to be overcome but something one must learn to integrate into everyday life. The comfort and support damaged people sometimes offer each other is a thread of hope running through this necessarily grim book."

Political curiosity Pauline Hanson has published her autobiography Untamed and Unashamed and Norman Abjorensen gives it the once over. I feel a complete and utter lack of interest in either the book or its subject. Listed for some stupid reason that I'll probably regret later.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 24, 2007 10:10 AM.

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