Reviews of Australian Books #86

Allen and Unwin have published the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature edited by Anita Heiss and Peter Minter, and Jane Sullivan takes a long look at it. Linda Burney also looks at this anthology for "The Australian": "It provides a fascinating account of the words of Aboriginal intellectuals and ordinary people, of some of our best-loved storytellers and young postmodern voices. Most important for a people whose stories have been quashed, it is an exercise in truth-telling. Historians traditionally have relied on written evidence. The writing of the handful of Aborigines who were taught to read and write soon after white settlement exposes another side of Australian history that has remained undisclosed. If not for the survival of these few pieces, we would have no authenticated version of indigenous experiences. For me, the gems are the earliest writings: the letters, petitions, pleas, many of them from Tasmania, where, until recently, the prevailing myth was that the Aborigines had been wiped out."

Beth Kanell, on the "Kingdom Books" weblog, delves into Snapshot by Garry Disher, and, in the process, laments the limited availability of Disher's works in the USA: "SNAPSHOT maintained a jagged, relentless tension throughout, although I didn't feel any urge to make sure the doors and windows were locked, or to turn on more lights. Instead, I wanted, very much indeed, to know how each of the investigators would sort out the life issues that were being jacked up into pain and threat through the kind of work they did, the hours, the tragedies. Well worth reading, and I'll be fitting another Disher novel into my reading schedule as soon as possible."

Dean, on the "HA" weblog, calls The Red Thread by Nicholas Jose, "an unsung masterpiece".

In "The Age", Michelle de Kretser reviews Stanley and Sophie by Kate Jennings, which she finds 'is a moving account of how we love and how we mourn: 'the fishhooks in the heart'."

In "The Australian", Kathy Hunt looks at the same book by Jennings and has a similar response.

Stella Clarke considers three new first novels: The Stranding by Karen Viggers ("...a moving, edgy love story..."); The Retreaters by Sharlene Miller Brown ("...a wonderful book, poetic, assured and graceful."); and The Lifeboat by Zacharey Jane (an "...unusual and haunting story..."); all for "The Australian". And staying with that newspaper is Don Anderson on A Family History of Smoking by Andrew Reimer: "...there was a sharp division through several generations of Riemer's family, smokers on his mother's side opposed to non-smokers on his father's. His mother was a serious smoker, regarding it during the best of times as an index of civilisation, during the worst of times as a brute necessity."

Justine Jordan on Disquiet by Julia Leigh in "The Guardian": "Disquiet is a strangely lukewarm title for a family narrative that includes infant death, adultery, domestic violence, alcoholism and other misadventures...The narrative tension is suspended between repression and melodrama, placing its characters in an uncharted emotional no man's land where anything might happen."

Short Notices

Maxine Clarke on Peter Temple's Dead Point: "If you haven't yet read Peter Temple, you have a total delight in store."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 28, 2008 1:47 PM.

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