Weekend Round-Up 2008 #1

The Age

James Ley hedges his bets somewhat in his review of Peter Carey's His Illegal Self: "Carey is not particularly interested (a la Philip Roth) in the destructive passions that politics can unleash but the novel does set out a pointed contrast between the countercultures of Australia and the US...His Illegal Self is concerned with loss of innocence but also with the painstaking creation of personal trust...[the novel] is a sad story but it has a warmth and directness, an earthy poignancy, that one does not immediately associate with Carey's boisterously inventive fiction...[it] might be a relatively straightforward and understated tale by Carey's usual standards but it is a fine novel."

The Australian

Liam Davison differs from Ley in that he sees echoes of Carey's past work in the current novel: "The premise of His Illegal Self (that the privileged son of a radical American student revolutionary should wash up in Australia, effectively kidnapped by the woman who loves him) and the narrative choices Carey makes deliberately position the viewpoint to present Australia as it is seen from elsewhere. Carey has lived in New York for 17 years. His novels to date, though, have been unashamedly Australian. If the US presence has surfaced more noticeably in his later works, it has always been filtered through an endearingly irreverent, larrikin Australian perspective. Now, it's as though Carey has reversed the viewfinder, and what we see is not entirely flattering...Carey is not returning to his past with this novel. He has never left it. Despite his trademark ventriloquism, there is a remarkable consistency about Carey's work: lies, deception, fakery; the moral consequences of ambiguous truths. All the hallmarks are here." This work is a "natural development" according to Davison.

Barry Hill on The Best Australian Poetry 2007 edited by John Tranter, and The Best Australian Poems 2007 edited by Peter Rose: "These two books are the annual evidence of the health of Australian poetry. Mainstream publishers have dropped the ball but a lot of poetry is put out by smaller presses, the literary journals and a few newspapers. Since the anthologies crop from the journals and newspapers, they can't help but bag good writing and it is not surprising that a handful of our best poets shine in both: the familiar names, for instance, of Robert Adamson, Pam Brown, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Clive James, John Kinsella and Les Murray, plus newer poets building strong reputations, such as Brendan Ryan, Michael Farrell, David McCooey and Jennifer Harrison."

Michael Wilding finds that Vinyl Inside by Rachel Matthews, has something missing at its heart: "To leave out the world of ideas and belief is to present an impoverished account of reality. For all its merits, Vinyl Inside is somewhat two-dimensional. It is like the scenario for a film yet to be realised."

The Sydney Morning Herald

Robert Dessaix reviews The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and finds that "there is something peculiarly American about this novel, for all the colourful Australian expressions squeezed into it. It comes not just from the religion and violence but from the sense of people constantly acting out redemption rituals for the approval of God or, if He's not looking, a mass of spectators whose job is to sit, be moved and applaud. Towards the end the pace becomes frenetic, as if the saga had mistaken itself for a crime thriller."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 30, 2008 10:21 PM.

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