Weekend Round-Up 2007 #20

Delayed a little this week by the quaintly named "Queen's Birthday Weekend".

The Age

The book reviews from the weekend paper have finally been uploaded to the website and, wouldn't you know it, none of the Australian books reviewed get a mention. Mutter, bloody mutter!

Peter Pierce reviews two new collections of short stories, Loyalties by Laurie Clancy, and The End of the World by Paddy O'Reilly. "Clancy's stories are unflashy, well crafted (and only occasionally self-conscious, as in 'change to the present in the interests of narrative urgency'), centred in the analysis and unsentimental reckoning of middle-class life in Australia.

"Some stories seem to end a sentence short of where they might have been, but we are given throughout an intelligent account of how men earnestly and blindly justify those actions that have likely damned them and that, as an ignored consequence, have harrowed their wives and lovers.

"In an altogether different key, Paddy O'Reilly's 18 stories in The End of the World (a title apt for several of her charcaters) are often more bleak than clancy's. Their domestic discord is not -- as it usually is for him -- between husbands and wives, but within families where the father is faithless, dead, a deserter."

The Australian

The Crimes of Billy Fish by Sarah Hopkins was a runner-up in the 2006 ABC Fiction Award and was considered so good that the publisher, ABC Books, decided to release it anyway. Rosemary Sorensen certainly found it rewarding, though, for a while, it was a close run thing. "A fair way into this intelligent and compelling novel, first-time writer Sarah Hopkins makes a huge decision. It's in the nature of reviews not to reveal what that decision entails, but suffice it to say it threatens to alienate the reader irrevocably...I thought it was the wrong decision and I was deeply disappointed, because until then Hopkins had impressively maintained her nerve and continued her difficult course...But then, even more impressively, she steers her way through the dangers she has created and her novel comes out the other side sounding sure, real and important."

Geoffrey Lehmann has a high opinion of Dorothy Porter's latest verse-novel: "Dorothy Porter's El Dorado is her fifth published verse novel, a form she has made her own. It is every bit the equal of The Monkey's Mask, her best-known verse novel, which has won awards and been adapted for stage, radio and film...Like The Monkey's Mask, El Dorado is a page-turner, a crime thriller counterpointed by a turbulent, yet compassionate, love relationship between two women." But it's not just the plot that drags Lehmann along, "If only more prose novelists could achieve the narrative enchantment that Porter is able to infuse into her verse novels."

Liam Davison reviews Rose Michael's debut novel, The Asking Game, which is also the first novel from the publisher Transit Lounge. "Rose Michael's debut novel, launched at the 2007 Sydney Writers Festival, is no tentative beginner's piece. I first read an earlier draft when it was commended in The Australian-Vogel Literary Award in 2002 and was impressed then by its sophisticated take on big issues and the narrative drive that came from its melding of the psychological thriller with speculative fiction...While not short on literary allusion, it had a less studied literary sensibility than many first novels by young writers. The Asking Game is a bold, ambitious work that takes risks and, for the most part, pulls them off."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 13, 2007 3:05 PM.

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