Andrew Hutchinson's confronting debut novel is reviewed by Thuy On who isn't overly impressed with it: "Notwithstanding its range of influences and literary predecessors, there's a facile and posturing tough-guy quality to this novel. Offering shock value is easy but Hutchinson isn't interested in providing any reasons behind the transgressions of these teenage marauders." Not that I thought that was the point of the book. He concludes that the author "tries too hard". Again, not a sentiment that I agree with.
Delinquent Angel by Diana Georgeff tells the life-story of poet Shelton Lea, who died at the age of 58 in 2005. Gig Ryan, the newspaper's poetry editor, finds the biography to be a bit patchy, as she tells us that "This book is obviously written by one outside the poetry scene", and "It is remiss that there is no bibliography". She concludes that "Georgeff's emphasis is on the life, not on literary analysis and criticism, of Lea. She is most thorough on Lea's early life and quotes his memories of those times verbatim, but rushes over his later, slightly less rabble-rousing life, when he was happiest."
Michael Gawenda left the editorship of "The Age" to become the paper's US correspondent a few years back. His reports back from that country have now been collected into American Notebook: A Personal and Political Journey and Dennis Altman encounters a number of problems in his reading of it. "Gawenda is a superb journalist and a good writer. As a political analyst his own romance with the US denies him the distance he claims is a requirement for first-class journalism."
Peter Corris is mightily impressed with Jacob G. Rosenberg's second volume of autobiography, Sunrise West: "As a reader, I have a strong dislike of the appearance of ghosts, imaginary beings and disembodied spirits in books. But Rosenberg's evocation of his mother, gassed at Auschwitz, and his sister, who threw herself on the electric fence, as if they were real and present, touched me deeply. It takes unusually powerful writing to overcome a deep-seated prejudice...East of Time, published last year, won two literary awards. It would not surprise me if Sunrise West, published this month, did the same."
Stephen Matchett applauds the new biography of Australia's Prime Minister, John Winston Howard: The Biography by Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen, which received so much attention in the papers a few weeks back. "The routine round of political conflict makes it impossible to assess which issues will define the subject's achievements and failures. The mass of material can overwhelm authors struggling to write for the record through the prism of the issues of the hour. Given these challenges, Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen deserve a medal for biographical bravery. This is not, cannot be, the definitive biography of John Howard. But it joins Tony Parkinson's (2000) study of Jeff Kennett as one of the best contemporary studies of an Australian conservative politician. In the way they paint the private man and the politician, the authors add a dimension to our understanding of a prime minister whose obvious and endless obsession with winning and holding office is all we have known of him. Their description of his private life presents Howard, at least in part, as the ordinary bloke he has worked so hard to appear to be." They call it a "solid study of a public life in progress".