Reviews of Australian Books #68

John Clute, a major sf critic based in the UK reviews Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan and compares her work quite favourably with some other majr writers: In an interview published some years ago, Langan lists a number of influences upon her as a child who read; in among the usual suspects we find two significant figures: Alan Garner and William Mayne, perhaps the two most 'difficult' authors of any renown in contemporary children's literature: Both of them authors who make it clear that, when finally you catch up to where they are telling their tale, they were there all the time. Everything you needed was a feast before you in the first place. Reading Lanagan is a similar festival." He also thinks one story in the collection is weak simply because "she has fixed simplistically into story form what needs to be expanded into a big dialogic novel, some big garden of a book with ley lines all through it so we can trace long happenings after the incipit." We all sit here waiting. We know it's coming...

Katie Haegele, in "The Philadelphia Inquirer", also takes a long look at Lanagan's story collection, and finds that even though more there one story has a male protagonist "there is something darkly feminine about each of these 10 stories. Lanagan's language has a searing poetry to it, and many of her images are both vivid and fearsome...None of these stories is easy, by which I mean they don't show their faces right away, as many young adult books do -- or even most fiction for adults, for that matter. At the beginning of each I wondered where on earth (or elsewhere) we were, and where we were going. A couple of the shorter stories felt a bit stunted, like false starts, but the language and setting of the others opened like a flower, satisfying to discover."

In "The New York Times", Dinitia Smith finds that, rather than being a Brothers Griim-style fairy tale, "The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood, by the Australian writer Mark Kurzem, is a true story. Part mystery, part memory puzzle, it is written in the polished style of a good thriller, and it is spellbinding...This is a book to keep you up at night."

The "Chicago Sun-Times" says of Shaun Tan's The Arrival: "Tan's rendering of immigrant experience is moving, accessible and full of graphic detail worth spending hours pouring over...Tan makes you feel the central dislocation of those who must leave behind all they know. This is destined to be a classic."

And of the same book, the "Toronto Star" concludes that "The pictures-only aspect of this story (and its stories within the story) recreates what it's like to live without understanding the words around you -- a potent experience that resonates with the foreign but also with the problems text can present. A story to tell and to talk over, as well as to pore over, this is a powerful, thought-provoking work."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 11, 2007 9:13 PM.

Australian Bookcovers #93 - True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey was the previous entry in this blog.

Scribe Publications 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