Reviewer: LS

By this author

book July 15, 2017


In the prologue of Mark Brandi’s award-winning debut novel, Wimmera, something unusual is discovered by two young boys in a fast-flowing river. It’s a green wheelie bin with the lid bolted on, “like someone wanted it closed up really tight …

book June 17, 2017

Half Wild

“Fictionalised biographies – novels based on the life of a famous person – are ten-a-penny,” wrote the novelist Jonathan Gibbs in 2014. “And why not? ... Other people – the actual biographers – have done the hard work.” Gibbs’s sentiment …

book June 10, 2017

The Gulf

Coming-of-age stories about teenagers in peril are commonplace but Anna Spargo-Ryan’s delightful second novel, The Gulf, is exceptional in many ways. It’s the story of 16-year-old Skye, who lives in Adelaide with her mother, bank teller Linda, …

book May 27, 2017

To Become a Whale

Australian coastal Gothic coming-of-age novels are perennially popular with readers and they come with a number of conventions. Ben Hobson’s debut, To Become a Whale, taps all of them neatly. It’s set in 1961, in coastal Queensland. Our sensitive, …

book April 22, 2017

For a Girl

In her memoir For a Girl, Mary-Rose MacColl quotes the American poet Louise Bogan. “No woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her art, a portion of its lost heart.” It’s apt, because throughout her harrowing …

book April 15, 2017

See What I Have Done

It’s easy to understand the appeal of a reimagined true crime to novelists. The basics of characters and a scaffolding of plot are readymade and solid – somewhere substantial for the writer to stand while branching off into imagination. Cases with …

book April 01, 2017


The term “experimental fiction” can be used to cover a multitude of sins: an almost petulant obsession with abstraction and a disdainful disregard for the experience of the reader, among them. When it works, though, we have novels in the tradition …

book March 18, 2017

Do You Love Me or What?

[TOC:ul In this story] The line, “One day the longing became too great to bear”, appears in “Small Talk”, one of the eight stories that make up Do You Love Me or What?, Sue Woolfe’s collection of longish short fiction. It refers to …

book February 25, 2017

The Restorer

[TOC:ul In this story] The beginning of Michael Sala’s The Restorer is somewhat of a slow burn. It’s 1989 and a family – father Roy, mother Maryanne, teenage daughter Freya, and eight-year-old Daniel – move in to a rundown house in Newcastle, …