Reviewer: JD

By this author


Books March 31, 2018

Munmun

The concept behind Jesse Andrews’ latest book is simple: the amount of munmun (money) you have is directly related to your physical size. Thus, bigrich (billionaires) walk the Yewess (United States) as colossi, feasting on cows and …

Books February 10, 2018

Restless Souls

In Dan Sheehan’s debut novel, four Irish friends, Tom, Baz, Gabriel and Karl, exit high school with varying degrees of ambition. Narrator Karl fancies himself a photographer of bleak spaces, while Tom heads off to war-torn Sarajevo as an unqualified …

Books December 02, 2017

The Baker’s Alchemy

Twenty-one years have passed since John Stephenson’s first novel, The Optimist. His long-overdue sophomore book comes in the unusual form of a Polish fable, The Baker’s Alchemy. Those expecting anything similar to his well-received …

Books November 18, 2017

The Woman Who Fooled the World

Despite being fresh in our minds, the case of Belle Gibson is still compelling. A self-styled “wellness warrior” who built a business by hoodwinking millions into believing she had cured terminal brain cancer, Gibson’s fraudulent house of cards …

Books November 04, 2017

The Relive Box

Thomas Coraghessan Boyle is a respected American writer who, despite penning 16 novels and 11 short-story collections, has never managed to set the literary world ablaze. His work is commendable, readable and occasionally veers into the fantastical, but …

Books August 26, 2017

City of Crows

Women who cast spells and brew potions to dispel illness and fuel desire have historically been vilified as servants of the devil. Contemporary culture has, to a large degree, drained the menace and repositioned witches as figures of frivolity in TV shows …

Books July 29, 2017

On the Java Ridge

The Java Ridge is a boat ferrying Australian surf tourists from Bali to the killer breaks found off remote Indonesian islands to the south. Stand-in captain Isi Natoli is at the helm, while her partner, Joel, is in Perth, trying to save the business. …

Books June 10, 2017

The Destroyers

The Greek islands are often romanticised in fiction, employed as a destination for disaffected middle-class wastrels wishing to rediscover what life is really about by eating feta salads on sun-kissed patios and tumbling into bed with handsome salt-of-the-earth …

Books April 29, 2017

Walkaway

Walkaway begins with a chapter entitled “Communist Party”, then lists the 22 hipster names of protagonist Hubert, Etc, which his parents chose from the 1890 census. The party in question is an outré rave, set in an abandoned bed-making factory, …

Books March 11, 2017

Scoundrel Days

There is an argument to be made that the writing of the beat generation has had a detrimental effect on the literary pretensions of male writers in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Bukowski, Kerouac and their ilk are often mentioned as influences …

Books December 03, 2016

Peacekeeping

Just as the unnamed narrator does in this Caribbean intrigue, Mischa Berlinski lived in Haiti for four years, writing a novel and snoozing in a hammock while his wife worked for the United Nations peacekeeping mission. Except here, the narrator and …

Books October 01, 2016

The Best of Adam Sharp

Graeme Simsion’s first two novels, the sparky and quirky comedy romances The Rosie Project and its sequel The Rosie Effect, have been the biggest Australian literary success story in recent memory. So expectation is high for the …

Books August 20, 2016

Saltwater

Cathy McLennan’s first job as a law graduate was in Townsville’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, an experience that steered her in the direction of advocacy for Indigenous Australians and now, 20 years later having become a …

Books August 06, 2016

The Island Will Sink

Science fiction writing has regrettably little prominence in Australia. A snapshot of fiction here betrays a depressing 20th-century nostalgia focusing on the broken family unit and rural inertia. It is as if tech-assimilated contemporary industry does …

Books July 30, 2016

Their Brilliant Careers

Australian literature: overly earnest, derivative, desperate to be taken seriously. Discuss. Alternatively, here’s Ryan O’Neill.  You have to admire O’Neill’s delicious bravura. He’s been one of the few short fiction writers of recent years …

Books June 25, 2016

Porcelain

As electronic music behemoth Moby points out in his afterword, rock star memoirs are usually ghostwritten, which is what he originally intended to do with Porcelain. Moby’s real name, however, is Richard Melville Hall – his great-great-great-great …

Books May 28, 2016

Wasted

Despite constant reminders that Australian culture is soaked in alcohol, a substance that causes immense harm, it is rare to find a book willing to tackle the complexity of the problem. Many may not want to hear what first-time Brisbane author Elspeth …

Books May 07, 2016

The Fighter

In a twist on the creative nonfiction trend of authors weaving themselves into “plucked from the headlines” narratives, veteran author Arnold Zable performs his own masterclass in literary shadowboxing, in The Fighter. A ghostly reporter …

Books April 02, 2016

Anatomy of a Soldier

Harry Parker, now 32, was a captain in the British Army when, in 2009, he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He lost his lower left leg in the blast, and his lower right leg was later amputated in hospital.  The popularity of …