I’m a military history aficionado, and the amount of information presented within this book is astonishing. I can only guess at how much research went into the preliminaries, and can see similarities to Sir John Monash’s extensive planning before the Battle of Le Hamel. I’m visualising somewhere in Mosman these large white-boards and spreadsheets travelling all around the walls of the FitzSimon’s operations-centre with countless pages of information attached to them.
The poems take us to the brink of who we are in many aspects: animal, alien, destroyers, inhabitants, lovers, indivudals and collectives. These are poems that make no concessions to humanity’s frailties. We’re about to reap what we’ve sown and all of these exquisite conceits may be illusions against time’s inevitable collapse: “but all these vapours will be unmade” (“The Woodland Chapel”), and yet there is something audaciously beautiful, subversive and permanent in the moment of our experience, in the placement and play of language and in the almost languid sensuality of touch.
While each story can stand alone, reading them all together in a single volume is an enormous advantage. One of the major accomplishments of Hairway to Heaven is its interconnections and associations, its themes and variations, which gradually resolve themselves – effortlessly, beautifully – into a novelistic whole. Hairway to Heaven is a very good book indeed.
To call Scorn a work of righteous anger would barely do justice to its earth-shattering rage, its apocalyptic howl of protest, its caustic humour, irony and indignation. The power of these emotions literally cannot be contained; the novel overspills its own boundaries, spreads outwards into the world by means of its copious epigraphs and epilogues, illustrations, quotations and allusions – even mixing genres and providing external links.
The stories it tells gather momentum and significance with each short chapter; it is populated by personages in whom we can believe; it is profoundly intelligent and deeply engrossing. Its allusions and references are delightfully subtle and oblique, conveyed effortlessly by the author’s gift for language and ideas. I doubt I shall read a finer novel this year.
Now this was a big surprise, a highly detailed historic guide that is very easy to digest and also presented in a captivating and powerful graphic form, making it an excellent ready reference for students and the politically aware. This is not another boring history book. The first couple of sheets will confirm that as a fact. As each new page was turned I congratulated Rupert and Oscar for their informative style. It reminded me of a rather good visual lecture that lucky students would certainly appreciate.
A person who has experienced deep tragedy and lived to tell the story often comes to grips with profound truths along the way. Such is the case with Phan Thi. As she started her recovery, she had to endure daily baths to treat her burns. She says, “Those baths were worse than death itself. Dying is far worse than death.” As I’ve observed this with people I know in my own life, I know this is a profound truth.
Overall, this book is interesting because it gives a new perspective on war from a boy who has never been involved in it. Also, because it is from the perspective of someone who is from a foreign country, the reader can understand what World War II was like for that country and how it affected them. I was personally intrigued by the character Pino because of the hope that he held throughout the whole war. Even though things around him were falling apart, and it seemed like nothing was going right, Pino still had faith that everything would be ok.
Lane has chosen Saint Albans, a NSW inland settlement located on the Macdonald River on the same latitude as Tuggerah and Central Mangrove fictionalised as Lochway. Lane’s characters are well-defined and likeable. Her narrative leaves an impression of familiarity and association. Using the central figure as an author automatically opened up a vault of her own personal experiences to relate with and enrich the book’s content.
Moore writes like her life depends on it. She dissects the stories of her life with intelligence and precision, and invites the reader to share in her examination. Feminist, political, funny, and irreverent, Moore’s essays are masterful, and show a true love of the form; the stories are deeply personal, while still tapping into shared human experience.