Weekend Round-Up 2007 #31

The Age

For the first five or six years of this decade, Melbourne underworld gangs took part in a series of assassinations, murders, and retributions that, frankly, boggled the mind. Hardly a week seemed to go by without some new body turning up. A total of about 28 gang members were killed all up. Now, with Carl Williams convicted of three of the murders - he pleaded guilty - a number of accounts of the gangland wars have hit the books stands. Andrew Rule reviews two of them: Gangland Australia: Colonial Criminals to the Carlton crew by James Morton and Susanna Lobez, and Big Shots: The Chilling Inside Story of Carl Williams & the Gangland Wars by Adam Shand. Unfortuately, the reviews aren't on the newspaper website.

Malcom Knox's previous novel, A Private Man, was shortlisted for a number of state awards and won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Novel. His latest, Jamaica, is reviewed by Kerryn Goldsworthy, who finds it awash with bone-dry Australian humour while, at the same time, taking a long hard look at Australian masculinity: "Knox's subject matter is familiar from his two earlier novels - well-to-do Sydney, men in groups, family dynamics, old secrets - but more than either Summerland or A Private Man, his third novel directly addresses some of the widening gaps between what Australians think of themselves and what we, or some of us, have become. The myth of an egalitarian ideal, for example, is shown to be nonsense, with the nuances and signifiers of class difference calibrated as finely here as anything in the fiction of George Eliot." She also tags a couple of other writers to give you a pointer: "like Temple and Maloney, Knox can be very funny while writing of profoundly serious things."

Ian Syson is beguiled by a couple of first novels in Long Afternoon of the World by Graeme Kinross-Smith, and Other Country by Stephen Scourfield. "I'm glad I read both books because Kinross-Smith is a brilliant writer from whom I am itching to read more; and Scourfield's story is a cracker that reveals an imagination that surely has more stories to tell. Despite my reservations, these two first novels are well worth the read if only for the promise they hold."

The Australian

Graeme Blundell is quite taken with Chris Womersley's first novel: "Chris Womersley begins The Low Road in a classic crime-thriller, almost film-noir style, its shadowy setting in what may be a dystopian Melbourne. It could also be Boston, Brisbane or Birmingham. Or what W.H. Auden called 'the Great Wrong Place'...Womersley writes with quirky sparkling detail. Fringe suburbs are places of failure, suspicion and negect. Car parks hum in their particular fluorescent silences, all angles and dark solids. Ribbons of highway unrave through wet suburbs. And bus shelters, with a scuffle of soft-drink-cans beneath wire seats, stink of domestic misfortune."

It must be first novel week out there in the publishing world with Anne Susskind reviewing The River Baptists, winner of the 2006 The Australian/Vogel award for unpublished manuscript. She has some quibbles - it's a first novel after all - but "then again, there's the freshness of a (relative) newcomer's curiosity and an admirable determination to penetrate beyond big impersonal Sydney and immerse herself in the flavour of a country in which she did not grow up."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 11, 2007 10:08 PM.

Rare Book Auction was the previous entry in this blog.

No Taxation Without Compensation is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en