Weekend Round-Up 2007 #39

The Age

Rachel Hills, who is a regular contributor to an Australian teen magazine, is impressed with Girl Stuff: Your Full-on Guide to the Teen Years by Kaz Cooke: "Born from a survey of more than 4000 girls around Australia (whose remarks are scattered throughout the book), Girl Stuff is a kind of teen magazine omnibus that even the most progressive parents would feel happy to hand to their daughter (socially conservative parents are another matter -- Cooke covers sex and drugs more candidly than most health classes)...As with any coming-of-age guide, don't expect Australia's teens to rush out en masse to buy Girl Stuff, but it is the kind of book most girls will enjoy, read voraciously, and refer to over and over again if given as a gift."

Most of us watching the current Australian Federal election might think that the nation's Christians are attempting to influence some or all of the major parties. But in his review of Margaret Simons's Faith, Money and Power, Barney Zwartz doesn't think so: "The religious influence on Australian politics is nothing like America, where evangelicals have had a powerful, often malign, effect on policy...Meticulously fair and characteristically insightful, her great achievement is to put the Pentecostals in a political and social context. She also gives them a human face, with long narratives and conversations...But even if secularists have little to fear, faith is destined to be part of politics for the foreseeable future. Faith, she writes, is part of the mood of the times in Australia."

Jeff Glorfeld looks at two new Australian crime novels, Eden by Dorothy Johnston and Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood. "Johnston writes beautifully, crafting passages of prose that make the reader stop, go back and re-read. But despite these strengths, the story is constricted and oddly lifeless...Unlike Maloney [Johnston's protagonist], Chapman [Greenwood's PI] lives large, with a lusty appetite for good food and good sex. Every meal is a feast and every character is exceptional. Even her three cats are remarkable...Where Johnston's palette is the muted greys of realism, Greenwood splashes hers with bold, melodramatic colours. Chapman is strong-willed and decisive, traits she shares with that other marvellous Greenwood creation, Phryne Fisher."

The Australian

One of the big Australian books of this year will be The Complete Short Stories by David Malouf, and I don't mean just page-count. Geoffrey Lehmann struggles to come to terms with it: "It is not easy reviewing the work of someone whom you have known well, which is my position with David Malouf. You perceive their work through the prism of your personal knowledge." He then recounts a few personal anecdotes before getting down to the business of reviewing the stories in the volume. "Although labelled complete, this book does not have all of Malouf's published stories. This was a good decision. Every story in this book earns its place, in that it has some details that make it worth preserving." And he concludes that "what is remarkable about this epic collection (to quote the jacket) is Malouf's affection for his characters, his openness to different lives and his ability to sustain a lyrical intensity throughout a story."

In his review of Michelle de Kretser's third novel, The Lost Dog, Richard King is worried the author is losing her way. "Clearly, here is an important novel, written by an important novelist. However, it is also a disappointing novel written by an important novelist, and not to say so would not only be dishonest but ultimately unfair to de Kretser." But there are things to savour: "On the whole, the book is exceptionally well written. De Kretser is an excellent narrator and her almost obsessive attention to detail -- the mighty effort of imagination expended on the incidental -- is revealing of a dedication that should serve as a model to younger writers." All in all, though, "De Kretser's fiction would be better served if she could just put textual studies aside and trust her inner storyteller."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 20, 2007 10:13 PM.

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