Reviews of Australian Books #71

On the "Cultural Dessert" weblog, out of the UK, Robin Simpson wasn't fully engaged by Richard Flanagan's Gould's Book of Fish: "All of which was very impressive but I'm afraid it didn't really engage me -- I found the grotesque characters, violent events and oppressive conditions fairly hard-going and didn't really sympathise with anyone. I reluctantly struggled through most of the book only to encounter a great 'Usual Suspects' twist at the very end which almost made me want to go back and read the whole thing again -- almost but not quite."

Jake Kerridge, "The Telegraph", is impressed with The Memory Room by Christopher Koch without being completely blown away by it: "Koch is superb at evoking place: he is excellent on the nastiness that lurks beneath the beauty of Beijing, and just as good on the drudgery of life in Canberra, a 'set of suburbs in search of a city'...I enjoyed the book throughout: only when it came to what should have been the killer emotional blow did I find that I didn't care enough about the characters to hit the deck."

Damien reviews The Low Road by Chris Womersley on his weblog, "Crime Down Under", and confidently states: "This is an Australian noir thriller in the tradition of Jim Thompson's The Getaway told in a rich, lavish voice...If ever there were a book that screams Ned Kelly Award contender then this is it with outstanding character development coupled with a strong sense of place that simply leaps off the page at you."

And staying with the crime genre, Glenn Harper reviews Bad Debts, the first Jack Irish novel by Peter Temple on the "International Noir" weblog: "Like another Australian, Garry Disher, Temple is quite prolific and, also like Disher, he shows considerable diversity among the different strands of his writing. Disher's police-procedural series is, like Temple's Broken Shore, complex, socially conscious, and complex. Whereas Disher's noir series focused on a professional thief is straightforward or linear in comparison, Temple's Jack Irish series is complex in a different way from his Broken Shore: There's a lot of plot, for one thing. Bad Debts combines Irish's avocations (woodworking and gambling) with his day job (as an attorney whose law license is a cover for what is essentially detective work somewhere between McDonald's Archer books and Parker's Spenser novels."

On her "Reading Adventures" weblog, Marg is quite taken with East of Time by Jacob G Rosenberg, and is looking forward to reading the next volume of his autobiography: "In lesser hands this book could quite easily have become nothing more than a list of names of the people that the author knew that didn't make it out of the aftermath of WWII. Instead, we have a series of poignant vignettes about the people that a young Jacob Rosenberg knew, stories about how they influenced him then, and how some of them continue to influence him now...Regardless of where the lines are blurred between what actually happened and the parts that are imagined, the story of loss and pain are very vibrant and real, and all too heartbreaking, and are definitely written in a very readable style."

Zarah Ghahramani never fitted in with the prevailing system in Iran, taking part in student demonstrations at Tehran University before being held in prison in solitary confinement for a month. After release she left Iran for Australia. She has now written, with Australian novelist Robert Hillman, a memoir titled My Life as a Traitor, which is reviewed in "The New York Times" by William Grimes: "In flashbacks Ms. Ghahramani describes a life outside prison walls: her warm
Kurdish family, the pleasures of Persian poetry and the hunger for a more just, more reasonable society that, in ways both trivial and profound, motivated her and thousands of other Iranians, including some very brave and ingenious teachers."
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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 21, 2008 11:26 AM.

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