Weekend Round-Up 2008 #9

The Age

Rachel Buchanan looks at The Spare Room, the new novel by Helen Garner: "It is boring to try to hunt out parallels between fiction and fact but there do appear to be quite a few in The Spare Room and that was distracting. A further layer of distraction is provided by the fact that this is Garner's first novel in 15 years and my expectations were perhaps unnecessarily high...My response to the book swung from cringing to crying to pleasurable stabs of shock at the narrator's honesty. My favourite: 'I wanted to smash the car into a post, but for only her to die -- I would leave the keys in the ignition, grab my backpack and run for my life.' Aaah friendship. Isn't it great?"

Rebecca Starford is impressed with The Comfort of Figs by Simon Cleary: "Here is a novel from a consummate stylist. Simon Cleary, originally shortlisted for the Queensland Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, has subjugated the well-trodden thematic ground explored by more recent winners of such manuscript awards. Consciously bypassing empty references and nebulous social critique, he has instead crafted a poignant tale of secret histories and the mechanics of foregiveness."

Jeff Gorfeld thinks Peter Corris is back to his old form in his review of two new books. "The Big Score is another collection of short stories, many of which contain the kernel of what could have become novel-length works but read as if Corris had been interrupted in full creative flight by Jehovah's Witnesses ringing the doorbell. Some are the kind of beautifully polished, self-contained gems that routinely find their way into crime-fiction anthologies...Open File is vintage work: the writing is economical, the observations sharper than they have been in recent times."

The Australian

Geoffrey Lehmann also reviews Garner's novel, and finds that "Unlike Garner's two big nonfiction works, the tension at the centre of The Spare Room is resolved...[The novel] is a story of tough love and friendship and amazement at the bravado and resourcefulness of human beings in the face of death, written in a prose that has surgical precision. This reviewer knows at least one old man who does read novels: himself. Read this novel. It is truer than nonfiction."

Rosemary Sorenson finds that The Comfort of Figs by Simon Cleary is a "commendable first novel": "Cleary employs a fine and empathetic gentleness as he invites us to get to know his characters, and we become swept up in the drama that leads to the tragedy that will reverberate through the years...Maybe the complex of botanical metaphors is overdone in this novel, and there's sometimes a briskness to the prose that seems to stifle Cleary's narrative voice a little."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 2, 2008 9:01 PM.

Combined Reviews: The Memory Room by Christopher Koch was the previous entry in this blog.

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