Weekend Round-Up 2008 #7

The Age

No Australian books that I noticed.

The Australian

Nigel Krauth is a bit ambivalent about A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz: "There is much to love in this book and much to hate, as its author intended. I love the wonderfully wacky philosophising and the amazing way this giant novel fits together. I hate its bloated massiveness." He didn't finish, finding the book just too long. "Yes, size does matter, balanced against effect. At 711 pages, Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole is longer than each of these classics [Tristram Shandy, Robinson Crusoe and Moby-Dick] and should be shorter. It's not as good as them in what it does."

Cath Keneally reckons that The Landscape of Desire by Kevin Rabelais almost makes it. The novel is loosely based on the tale of Burke and Wills. "You need to know the basics of that myth-engendering journey quite well not to get lost reading this fragmented, time-hopping, voice-swapping account. Younger readers, products of an Australian educational system that didn't push the early white explorers of this land so hard, may be at sea...[David] Malouf calls the book 'lyrical, precise, mysterious'. A wise mentor would have urged a first-time novelist to stay with 'precise' rather than strive after the other two epithets."

Nicolas Rothwell on Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men's Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality by Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds: "Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds bring to their collaboration different gifts: Reynolds has a lifetime of bold writing on Australia's frontier history behind him; Lake, well-known as a historian of feminism, likes to write on a broad, transnational scale. What, together, have they wrought? ... Drawing the Global Colour Line is nothing less than an alternative presentation of the early 20th century, with race and racial thinking cast at its core. Often dizzying in its sweep and subtle in its interweaving of linked national narratives, it traces the thought-worlds of the politicians and theorists who shaped the diplomacy and power relations of the age."

The Sydney Morning Herald

Ed Wright doesn't think Landscape of Desire by Kevin Rabelais quite reaches the heights it aims for: "I was quite excited by the prospect of Landscape of Desire, which is based on the famous fatal mission of Burke and Wills into the interior that started from Melbourne in 1860. The beginning of the novel, with its atmospheric evocations of the lives of the protagonists, seemed to confirm this promise. I was thinking that perhaps it takes a replanted American (Rabalais is originally from Louisiana but now lives in Melbourne) to revivify the inner states of these men who went in search of the Australian frontier. By the end of it, however, I was disappointed because I wanted this book's ambition to have paid off."

According to Tony Horwitz, Don Watson may have taken the wrong approach with his new book of essays, American Journeys which "is an unusually sensitive and thoughtful tour of the US continent. Watson, however, has embarked on an impossible mission. To understand America, he travels about 13,000 kilometres, while weaving in current events. But his approach and subject conspire to make his portrait feel sketchy and almost instantly out-of-date."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 12, 2008 9:06 PM.

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