Book Review articles

On becoming an Aussie

On becoming an Aussie

By Rhonda Dredge There are three stand-out stories in Growing Up in Australia, an anthology of first-person accounts by 32 Aussies. The first is Tourism by Benjamin Law, perhaps the most talented storyteller in the mix. For the book is making the point that there is no such thing as a “proper” childhood and the

A lockdown kind of life set in Korea

By Rhonda Dredge Winter in Sokcho is set on the border between North and South Korea, a desolate chilly place where time rests heavily on the town and its inhabitants. The narrator of the novel works in a tired guesthouse as a receptionist with just two guests in residence. One guest is in bandages after

A tale of wrecked men

By Rhonda Dredge In A Jealous Tide by Anna MacDonald the narrator is a woman who is adept at finding space for reflection.  She is a self-contained narrator who loves wandering by water.  Her favourite form of narrative is the personal recount.  Most of this novel describes the narrator’s encounter with the geography of Melbourne

Troubled novel captures a bad summer

By Rhonda Dredge Richard Flanagan lays it on thick in his latest novel, which is front-runner to win the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for 2021. The Living Sea of Waking Dreams is told from the bedside of a dying woman in Hobart. Francie’s children don’t want her to die and they approve intervention after intervention.

I’ll have a “Sauvignon Blank” please

By Rhonda Dredge If it doesn’t bring you joy, don’t do it. This is one of the many pieces of advice that pepper Loner, the winner of the Text Publishing young adult fiction prize for 2020. The CBD-based publisher offers the prize each year along with a publishing contract.  The contract must have brought joy

The words of a true writer

By Rhonda Dredge A book that has strongly resurfaced from its 20th century cave is The Plague by Albert Camus, an account of an imaginary epidemic in the African town of Oran in Algeria.  The current popularity of this 1947 novel among Melbourne readers attests to their tough-mindedness. One bookseller told CBD News that The

Keeping it light

By Rhonda Dredge Anna MacDonald works at the Paperback Bookshop at Bourke St and she’s published a book of essays called Between the Word and the World that deals with the concept of distance. The book claims to be about walking and being-in-the-world but it is quite academic in style. Place is mostly used by

A product of the virus

By Rhonda Dredge Virus is a word on everyone’s lips, even those of three-year-olds and literary scholars, and ideas about viruses spread incredibly rapidly across the globe. First comes the fear and prejudice, then the science, then the treatment, then the experience is interpreted. We are still moving into the science stage of the COVID-19

Dodgy moves in the corporate sector

By Rhonda Dredge In pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) days, corporate culture attracted quite a degree of cynical attention from both outsiders and insiders. One commentator was novelist Elliot Perlman who began knocking economic rationalism back in 1998.  You could say that Perlman is a pioneer in the genre of the corporate novel. His first corporate novel Three

A romance about writing

By Rhonda Dredge In the novel Antidote to a Curse, the narrator meets his lover in the iconic Stalactites café in Lonsdale St. At one point there is an argument and the window shatters in a hail of glass over the main characters. James Cristina, the author, chose the setting for its “Open 24 hours”

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