Reviews of Australian Books #94

"The Age"

Felicity Plunkett on Life in Seven Mistakes by Susan Johnson: "Johnson uses a plaited structure for her novel, cutting the line of the present's chronological forward-movement with segments of the past that have built this present. Each blast of heat from the past brings about some melting, so that things within the family begin to shift. This structure elegantly reinforces the overarching metaphors of heat and cool."

Juliette Hughes on I Dream of Madga by Stefan Laszczuk: "If the circumstances in the story are dire, the tone and treatment are astonishingly humorous and assured. Tragi-comedy is a damn difficult thing to pull off, and Laszczuk does it with wicked style...Despite all the bizarre deaths and wrenching loss, there is nothing gloomy about this book. There is another girl, there is the
possibility of redemption, there are points of joy and ironic humour through all the darkness. One thing that Laszczuk does well is write about sex: he has a kind of honest cheerfulness about it that allows tenderness, humour and realness. It's a gift all too rare when the prizes usually have to be given for badly written sex description."

"The Courier-Mail"

Cheryl Jorgensen on Ghostlines by Nick Gadd, which won the author "the Victorian Premier's Prize for an unpublished manuscript in 2007. It is a crime novel which relies on a cleverly constructed plot, and although the main villain is a psychopath, leaving several bodies in his wake, we readers do not have to attend the site of execution or wade through the victims' viscera."

Jason Nahrung on The Daughters of Moab: "Sydney writer Kim Westwood makes a grand debut with this post-apocalyptic vision of Australia...The prose is beautiful, possibly too beautiful, with a denseness of description that at times serves to be obfuscatory rather than descriptive or informative. It adds a surreal quality, enhanced by use of present tense, that reduces the tension and pace of the journey.

"The "AntipodeanSF" website on Incandescence by Greg Egan: "The title says it all. Greg Egan is the eponymous incandescent Aussie hard SF author, and his latest novel, Incandescence, is a tour-de-force of scientific extrapolation that delivers us into the far future and introduces us to concepts and ideas that uphold the tenet that complexity is ultimately driven by simplicity. Here is evolution on the edge, an electronic society on the edge, and astrophysics on the edge."

Dean, "The Happy Antipodean", looks at The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper: "Just prior to reading this book I finished a biography of the literary journalist Martha Gellhorn. The contrast between the 'old school' of Gellhorn - who did a lot of coverage of WWII - and Hooper's equitable method is tonic...Gellhorn never didn't take sides. Hooper refuses to, and her book -- which in her cover blurb Helen Garner says is 'enthralling' and 'studded with superbly observed detail' -- is all the richer for it."

Short Notices

Eva's "Book Addiction" weblog: "I've finally finished the lusciously thick and richly illustrated second volume of the 'Monster Blood Tattoo' trilogy, and I'm horrified that there is only one more to go...Lamplighter by D.M. Cornish (Putnam, 2008) is, like its predecessor Foundling (Putnam, 2007), a dark and dense pleasure indeed."

The "Hall of the Mountain King" weblog on Sabriel by Garth Nix: "The book features a darker tone that reminds me a bit of Michael Moorcock's Elric tales, yet the action is fast and lively and less brooding than those books."

"DoveGreyReader Scribbles" about Feather Man: "Rhyll McMaster has created a memorable character in Sookie but also somehow maintained an emotional distance which feels like reader safety. First person narrative defines thought processes with pinpoint accuracy, not only Sookie as a child but as teenager and young woman too."

The "Tuesday in Silhouette" weblog on The Memory Room by Christopher Koch: " I floated through it with a reasonable amount of enthusiasm, and once or twice I even became immersed it in. It does, however, lack credibility/consistency at many levels."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 17, 2008 9:18 AM.

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