Reviews of Australian Books #72

In "The Washington Post" Paul di Filippo ponders the limitations of labelling in his review of Margo Lanagan's short story collection Red Spikes: "Margo Lanagan's third collection after White Time (2000) and Black Juice (2004) is being marketed as for young adults, '14 & up.' Aside from the fact that many of the protagonists herein are youths, I'm not sure about the need or accuracy of pitching Lanagan's complex, resonant, mature fables in this fashion. True, any bright, sensitive teen will immediately latch on to these emotive tales like a free-falling person snatching a parachute. But these are the kind of high-quality stories that will vibrate the nerves and heartstrings of readers of all ages."

Justine Larbalestier has more to say about this on her weblog. Though she doesn't specifically mention Lanagan's work, the sentiments remain the same.

On the "International Noir Fiction" weblog Glenn Harper finds that Peter Temple's Identity Theory (aka In the Evil Day) is a departure from his other works: "Paranoia (confirmed by the story's resolution) replaces a more elemental social pessimism that is evident in Temple's noir novels (particularly The Broken Shore, with its meditations on racism and economic depression in rural towns). Depending on your taste, you will like Identity Theory or The Broken Shore -- the thriller and the crime novel seem to appeal to different readers." A similar thing is said about Disher's two series - Wyatt and Challis - and yet I like both of them.

kimbofo was worried that The Book Thief by Markus Zusack wouldn't live up to the hype, and left it languishing on her nightstand for 12 months. She needn't have worried: "The Book Thief is a deeply unsettling story and a truly moving one. I teared up over so many scenes that I couldn't bare to list them here for fear of running out of room! The ending is of the typical grab-your-tissues-and-sob-your-eyes-out ilk. But in reading this very long book -- perhaps a fraction too long, in my opinion (it meanders a lot in the middle) -- I never once thought I was being emotionally manipulated."

Despite reservations about Richard Flanagan's The Unknown Terrorist, C.B. James still found a lot to like: "The portrayal of the Australian government seemed a bit over-the-top to me. Incompetent or malevolent government officials and police officers are a staple of espionage thrillers, but I really hope the Australian government is doing a better job than is portrayed in The Unknown Terrorist. As the novel drew towards its close things began to happen, secrets were revealed, and I found myself having a hard time believing it all. I won't reveal anything here, but don't be surprised if you find yourself saying no way out loud towards the end of the book...Overall, I found The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan to be an entertaining, suspenseful page turner with something to say about contemporary culture. So, in spite of things getting a little out of hand in the end, I'm giving it four out of five stars." If the case of Mohamed Haneef was anything to go by, the previous Australian goverment wasn't doing a very good job at all.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 5, 2008 3:15 PM.

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