books

books November 10, 2018

Collected Poems

Les Murray has always been a sort of enigmatic double-headed eagle: one profiled eye looking into the past, the other staring into the future. Of course, we know, or think we know, about the backward-looking Murray, the so-called bard of Bunyah with...

books November 10, 2018

All Among the Barley

“Last night I lay awake again, remembering the day the Hunt ran me down in Hulver Wood when I was just a girl.” The tang of foreboding in this novel’s opening line owes something to its echo of “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”...

books November 3, 2018

Evening in Paradise

There’s a scene in Lucia Berlin’s story “Lost in the Louvre” when the narrator discovers a previously missed wing of the gallery. We anticipate some revelations, but instead we get “lovely mundane objects”. There will be no miracles here, Berlin...

books November 3, 2018

The Butcherbird Stories

A. S. Patrić’s The Butcherbird Stories aims to unsettle. Each story plunges the reader into a unique scenario, enhanced by the author’s penchant for beginning in medias res. Further discombobulating the reader, the stories often experiment with...

books November 3, 2018

Two Old Men Dying

Tom Keneally has been at the game of writing novels for a long time now. Although he has always been an uneven writer, the best of his work is made to last. If 50 years ago his Catholic Church novel Three Cheers for the Paraclete – with a hero who...

books October 13, 2018

When I Saw the Animal

Bernard Cohen’s When I Saw the Animal is a bit of a pig’s breakfast: a thin potage of leftovers, scraps, mystery offcuts and, yes, occasional meaty nuggets. Here you’ll find more than two decades of literary leavings all mixed in to make what you...

books October 13, 2018

Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead

Many high-profile authors, from J. M. Coetzee to Yann Martel, have turned their attention to human–animal relations. This is often framed in terms of the “ecological turn”, apparent perhaps most obviously in cli-fi, or climate-change fiction...

books October 13, 2018

Trigger Warnings

“My administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” said United States president Donald Trump in his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly. Laughter began rippling across the room...

books October 6, 2018

The Bus on Thursday

When Eleanor gets her dream job as a teacher in Talbingo, a hamlet in the Snowy Mountains, it seems as if all her problems are solved. Clean air and country life are just what she needs to complete her breast cancer recovery, with bonus respite from...

books October 6, 2018

Bridge of Clay

In Markus Zusak’s Bridge of Clay , the five Dunbar young men – Matthew, Rory, Henry, Clayton and Thomas – have, since the death of their mother, Penny, and the abandonment by their father, Michael, formed a wild gang with their menagerie of animals...

books October 6, 2018

The World Was Whole

Fiona Wright’s second collection of essays, the follow-up to 2015’s superb Small Acts of Disappearance , is concerned with dark matter. Not the invisible stuff that makes up most of our universe, but those hidden parts of human life made from...