Weekend Round-Up 2007 #29

The Age

Peter Craven tackles the new J.M. Coetzee novel, Diary of a Bad Year, and finds the author is continuing his recent novelistic interests.

Whatever you make of it Coetzee's recent "Australian" work has been minimalist, self-reflexive and concerned with the micro-dramas of a novelistic sensibility with an intimate resemblance to his own. They are books about the kind of people who write books and they tend to integrate as found objects the workaday writing, if not the experience, of J. M. Coetzee, eminent writer and man of sensibility, now resident in Australia.

And so it is with his new book, Diary of a Bad Year...[the novel] is a remarkable book full of passion and wisdom and constantly illuminated by the author's adherence to the truth that shines from the smallest situation or the touch of sensuality that trails from the margin of the most momentous thought.

Needless to say, Craven is pretty impressed with the work: "In his smallest jotting on the page Coetzee is a master we scarcely deserve."

Simon Clews found much to enjoy in Patriot Act by James Phelan, which is the author's second novel featuring ex-navy, investigative journalist Lachlan Fox...Written at breakneck pace using techniques such as filmic intercutting between alternating scenes that build towards a climax, Patriot Act almost owes more to the modern blockbuster action film, than to any literary heritage."

The Zookeeper's War is Stephen Conte's debut novel, and John Bailey finds that the author's unforced style works in the book's favour: "Conte's prose style is unhurried and unforced, rarely indulging in acrobatic feats and only occasionally hinting at the journeyman status sometimes evident in first novels."

The Australian

If the past few weeks is anything to go by, Gerald Stone's latest book, Who Killed Channel 9? is certainly topical. With the departure of the Chief Executive, and the head of the News Department, the tv network is really on the nose. As Allan Hogan puts it: "Gerald Stone is in no doubt about the answer to the question he poses as the title of his latest book. It wasn't Colonel Mustard in the ballroom with the candlestick, it was John Alexander in the boardroom with the bludgeon...The way Stone sees it, Alexander wanted to fix Channel 9 when it wasn't broken. As the head of Kerry Packer's PBL Media, Alexander's bungling interference led to the departure of Nine's most talented executives. And they didn't leave for quiet retirement; they walked into the welcoming arms of Nine's bitter rival, Channel 7. It wasn't long before Nine's long supremacy in the ratings wars was over." He'll either get a cushy retirement package or get picked up by another network where he can weave his magic all over again.

Sidney Nolan produced some of the iconic Australian images in his art, especially his series on the bushranger Ned Kelly. So the new book, Nolan on Nolan: Sidney Nolan in His Own Words edited by Nancy Underhill, will be of interest to a lot of people. Giles Auty came to the book with some expectation, but left rather disappointed: "Most commentators agree that by nature Nolan was original, sensitive and lyrical. Indeed, based on such attributes, Nolan was apt to claim that he would have been equally at home channelling his creative impulses into written rather than visual art forms. Yet on the evidence of the present book this last idea seems something of a vain wish...Nolan's command of language, meaning and linguistic construction was insecure at best and certainly did not suggest successful alternative careers for him in the fields of prose or poetry."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 28, 2007 9:44 PM.

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