Weekend Round-Up 2007 #22

The Age

I'm starting to think I may have to shift the round-up of reviews from "The Age" to later in the week: the paper doesn't seem to be loading its book reviews onto its website as early as it used to. There isn't much Australian in the paper this week though.

Anyway, Louise Swinn's review of Aphelion by Emily Ballou is the major fiction review of the week. "The question of memory is at the heart of this book -- how we mould and reshape it, how we forget and what we remember, and what we choose to emphasise as we tell our story...Aphelion is funny without being smug, intelligent but not superior, emotionally involving but, with the exception of the end, not sentimental, and the atmosphere is cinematic." I'll take that as meaning she liked it.

Two biographies of current Federal Opposition leader Kevin Rudd on the market at the same time might seem a bit of overkill, but it says something about the man if he can command two, when the Prime Minister, after 11 years in the job, can only rate one. Well, okay there's another one on the way, but it is election year.

Shaun Carey looks at Kevin Rudd: The Biography by Robert Macklin, and Kevin Rudd: An Unauthorised Political Biography by Nicholas Stuart. "Does either of the manage to shed a great deal of extra light on the Labor leader beyond what's already been turned up in the newspaper and television profiles that have appeared in the past few months? I hope it is not unfair to either writer to say: a little bit, but not much. That's not to say that these are not worthwhile books. Both are honest, fair and, in their way, thorough."

The Australian

Debra Adelaide reviews Matt Rubinstein's first novel, A Little Rain on Thursday, recalling that she read an earlier version of the work when it was submitted for an Australian/Vogel award a few years back. "Then, it held dazzling promise, but was not fully realised as a narrative...As A Little Rain on Thursday, it is undeniably still full of dazzling promise. The idea of the power of language and also its weaknesses generates a story that is refreshingly ambitious, richly imagined and, in Australia at least, highly original. In writing what amounts to a literary thriller, Rubinstein has produced something enormously clever. He has almost pulled it off." Which almost qualifies as another review cliche (it's a line I've used, which must move it to the over-sused end of the scale), except Adelaide explains what she's talking about. "There is a fine but necessary line between the representation of a character's chaotic state of mind and a muddled story. Reading A Little Rain on Thursday is an apocalyptic sort of experience, as the story is crowded with mythical and meaningful figures: the Knights Templar, monks, St John's Hospitallers, forgers, hangmen and convicts. Then there are far too many symbolic places: libraries, deserts, book deposits, graveyards, churches, laboratories and lighthouses...There is so much in this narrative that it loses the focus crucial to sustain the mystery and bring it to a satisfying conclusion."

David Hill, ex-managing director of the ABC, has produced his first book, The Forgotten Children: Fairbridge Farm School and Its Betrayal of Australia's Child Migrants, and Alan Gill, who also researched the subject himself, finds much to admire in the work. "It is beautifully written in clear, non-academic prose, and is tightly edited. Hill's own story takes a back seat."

[Update: one review from last week's "Age" has now made it to the website.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 26, 2007 9:25 PM.

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