Weekend Round-Up 2007 #15

The Age

James Bradley looks at Paul Morgan's second novel, Turner's Paintbox, and, while he's impressed by the striking conceit of the work he doesn't think it's up to the level of the author's first, The Pelagius Book. On the other hand he admires "the ambition that underpins Morgan's fiction, his preparedness to take risks. For while Turner's Paintbox may lack the gem-like precision and hidden depths of its predecessor, it goes a long way towards meeting the challenges it sets for itself."

Sophie Lee comes across as an actress of the blonde variety, one who has appeared in such films as Muriel's Wedding and The Castle, but she's also someone who has put pen to paper and come up with a first novel that seems to show a lot of promise, according to Frances Atkinson. There are problems of course: "Alice In La La Land has heart; parts of it are genuinely funny, not in a thigh-slapping, snorting way, but it has charm. There are plenty of moments when Lee's writing is fresh and snappy but too many scenes and jokes (urinating cats, the stalled release of a movie Alice was in) are recycled and by the end of the book, they get old." But, in the end, "Carroll's Alice jumped down the rabbit hole because she was fearless, because she had a compulsion to discover what would happen next. If nothing else, Lee's first book has made me curious, too." And, for a first novel, that is not at all bad.

The Australian

The big review this week is of Shane Maloney's new Murray Whelan novel, Sucked In, which Graeme Blundell enthuses over. And while the review is more an overview of the Whelan series, it does offer some gems: "Maloney sees Whelan as a kind of mechanic or driver on some minor bus route in the great journey of life: his job is to keep the rattletrap working and to ensure the safety and eventual arrival of the passengers at the accepted destination." There is no-one writing like Maloney.

The Sydney Morning Herald

Sue Turnbull is impressed with Shane Maloney's novel: "Over the years, Murray Whelan has come to occupy a particular niche in the Melbourne imagination. It is well nigh impossible to walk past the National Gallery of Victoria on St Kilda Road without gesturing towards the tram ticket-strewn moat and announcing to an unsuspecting tourist, 'Somebody once drowned in there, you know, according to Shane Maloney.'...Maloney's Melbourne is a mix of truth and fiction, of what-is-no-longer (Labor is still in opposition in Victoria) and what-might-have-been (the mythical yet entirely credible Maribyrnong University specialising in tourism, food technology and hospitality studies)." Maloney says there is only one more Whelan novel to come, and Turnbull is missing him already.

Gail Jones has been shortlisted for the 2007 Miles Franklin Award at the same time as her new novel, Sorry, is in the bookshops - good timing that - and James Ley thinks her new work is better that Dreams of Speaking, even if it does have its flaws: "Her tendency to talk over her characters is less evident than in some of her earlier novels but is still there. Her frequent use of dreams, though conceptually important, can come across as a creaky fictional device. And her prose, though beautifully wrought, operates at such a consistently high pitch that it strays occasionally into pretentiousness, perhaps due to a mild contamination from the clotted theoretical prose that Jones doubtless encounters on a regular basis in her day job as lecturer in cultural studies at the University of Western Australia." If the author's two previous novels are anything to go by you should be reading this one.

Janette Turner Hospital's latest work, Orpheus Lost, is "ambitious and intricate" according to Andrew Riemer. However, it seems to be aiming higher than it can reach: "There is no denying the high level of competence that went into this novel. For all that, I cannot put aside the sense of superficiality clinging to much of this attempt to explore the connections between music and mathematics on the one hand and on the other the corrosive influences of ideology and bigotry...Perhaps the feat is impossible to accomplish: even the great Thomas Mann almost came to grief when he tried to bring it off in Doctor Faustus."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 8, 2007 9:58 PM.

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