Reviews of Australian Books #79

kimbofo ended up giving Night Letters by Robert Dessaix four stars, but it didn't all start out that well: "I have to admit that Night Letters initially failed to win me over. I actually considered abandoning it. But I'm glad I persevered, because once I understood this was a novel about storytelling -- there are references to famous novelists throughout, including Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell and Salman Rushdie -- I truly enjoyed it. There are stories within stories, and once you realise that these all combine weight to Robert's search for meaning, you wonder why you didn't 'get' this much earlier."

Peter Skrzynecki deconstructs The Arrival by Shaun Tan (it's down the page a bit).

Tan uses a number of ways to move the story forward:
  • a number of small images can focus on details within a bigger picture
  • smaller images can lead to the larger image
  • the larger image can show great detail
All the images are like photos and postcards, the representations of a journey.
Estelle runs her weblog "3000 books" with the aim of writing about all the books she reads. The title comes from the calculation that she has about 60 years of life left, and she intends to average 50 books a year, so 3000 it is. Until recently she has been reluctant to tackle any Australian novels as "Every local author seemed, to my youthful narrow vision, to whitewash their pages in reflections on ghostly gums and the infinite character of the land." This was obviously a vision she wasn't keen on. And then someone gave her The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser, and she was impressed enough to change her mind: "Considering the lyricism with which De Kretser conveyed this multi-generational tale, it was with no regret that I renounced my antipathy for Australian fiction. Even a sometimes awkward approach to dialogue enhanced her considered inquiry into personhood, revealing conversation for its brutal, dissembling self. Summoning brevity, empathy and familiarity to her aid, De Kretser has rendered the landscape of the Australian psyche with regard to all its sources and betrayers, making The Lost Dog a truly interesting read."

Short Notices:

Joe Cinque's Consolation by Helen Garner was enjoyed by the "Yapping Dog": " took me a while to get there, but this book is a seriously fantastic read."

Marshall Zeringue asked Pamela Erens what she was reading and one of the books was The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard: "Transit contains elements of many different genres: romance novel, mystery novel, drawing-room comedy, philosophical essay. It's nothing if not ambitious, and it probably goes unread by scores of people who would cherish it if they gave it a chance. The truth is that I was tempted to put it down after the first ten pages. The narrator is prone to pronouncements and aphorisms, and the language can at times be highly elaborate and abstract. But soon the richness of the character portraits and the powerful mood won me over, and Hazzard's style came to seem perfectly and uniquely right."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 20, 2008 8:43 AM.

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