Reviews of Australian Books #82

"DovegreyReader" is impressed with Disquiet by Julia Leigh, even touting it for a CERTAIN award later in the year, except that the publisher has pitched it as a novella, rather than a straight novel. "There is little I can tell you about plot without giving away the essence and I would humbly suggest avoiding reviews until you've read Disquiet for fear of finding out what you'd rather not. Impact is all and Julia Leigh does impact in a quiet and controlled way scattering echoes and reverberations in her wake. Except everything in this book, no matter how bizarre it seems, can and does happen in people's lives, so no suspension of disbelief required, read and believe."

In "The Sydney Morning Herald", Peter Goldsworthy finds that "Susan Wyndham's Life In His Hands is the story of the relationship of the flamboyant [neurosurgeon] Teo and his young patient. It's an insider's story; granted intimate access to both men, Herald journalist Wyndham becomes a friend to both. Her story, then, is affectionate, but still honest in its discussion of character failings - it's no hagiographic duet...Her grasp of procedural detail is the equal of the neurosurgical sequences in Ian McEwan's Saturday, the best outsider job I've read. In some ways her book is less a tale of two men than a tale of two brains - the creative right brain of the musician, and the logical and coolly methodical left brain of the surgeon - and she pulls off a neat trick of neurosurgery in joining these two halves into a complete book."

In the same newspaper, Peter Pierce reviews The Poet Who Forgot by Catherine Cole.

Since the 1960s, the ascendant literary form in Australia has been autobiography, tales of the self in prose and verse, some shading into what Donald Horne called "sociography" while others dwell on the solitary power of examining one's own past. So crowded has the field become that recently we have seen ingenious autobiographies by other means. One is Catherine Cole's The Poet Who Forgot, the account of the correspondence and friendship that began in the early '80s between Cole, a public servant and aspiring writer, and A.D. Hope, one of Australia's greatest poets, by then in his 70s. ... Hers is a wilful discursiveness, based on the assumption that the quality of the writing will persuade us to stay the journey. As indeed it does.
Margaret Cannon has a look at Identity Theory by Peter Temple as it is published in Canada. And she's very impressed, comparing Temple's work here to John le Carré, and concluding that this is a novel that "will be read for decades".

Sam de Brito is best known as a journalist for Sydney and Melbourne newspapers. His first novel, The Lost Boys, covers similar ground to his journalism: the Australian male. Nigel Krauth, in "The Australian", discovers much to like, and a lot to feel uncomfortable about: "Seemingly no cultural stone is unturned in this narrative and, indeed, for most of it the narrator, his mates, his parents and the rest of the world are stoned. An awful lot of alcohol and drugs are consumed in this book. If the novel is a random breath test of the Australian nation, then the nation has come up immediately jail-able."

Also in "The Australian", radio presenter Norman Swan reviews Life in his Hands by Susan Wyndham: "This is a beautifully written, emotional, almost novelistic account of what to some may seem blind courage on the part of both patient and doctor...It tells, however, of a bigger story that affects us all: the right to live and die the way we choose, as long as our eyes are open and no-one else is harmed. "

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 15, 2008 9:29 AM.

Australian Bookcovers #110 - Rhymes from the Mines by Edward Dyson was the previous entry in this blog.

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