Kate’s trajectory is one of discomfort and discovery as she unearths, and then rewrites her history and the history of Salt Pan Creek, facing the wrongs she and her people, including her own parents, have done, and attempting to right them. McFarland does a beautiful job of pulling history, fiction, multiple love stories and trauma together into a coherent narrative that is powerful.
The Weekend is about so many things: preconceptions, societal norms, continuity and difference, about the self and about relationships, but most particularly about friendship and what it means to be both separate individuals in this world throughout life changes, and also the ways in which we are implicitly connected and collective.
The streets of Melbourne are vividly alive in this work, and nowhere more so than in its description of the natural world around the city, from Royal Park where Trevor walks Gordon to the steel carriages tram, the graffitied buildings or the flora and fauna that is everywhere in flashes of beauty.
To say that the book is engaging is a gross understatement. The Accusation is the kind of story that you miss meals to finish, sneak read, and stay up late to keep going. It’s ultra-fast paced, and the speed of the plot belies just how good James’ writing is. James is a master of suspense, providing all sorts of subtle hints and details with legalistic precision.
However true to fact and corroborated by photos and drawings, memoir is always subject to recreation, to one-sided perception, rewriting, and recasting. It is always both true and fictive, and like dreams, pieced together from a grab-bag of images and turned into stories that reflect the themes being explored. The Age of Fibs picks up on this uncertainty beautifully and works with it, allowing for openness, complexity, and fragmentation, while still keeping the coherency of the story intact.
Nigel Featherstone is an Australian writer who has been published widely. His works include the story collection Joy (2000), his debut novel Remnants (2005), and The Beach Volcano (2014), which is the third in a series of novellas. He wrote the libretto for The Weight of Light, a contemporary song cycle that had its world premiere in 2018. He has held residencies at Varuna (Blue Mountains), Bundanon (Shoalhaven River), and UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy. In this detailed and wide-ranging interview, Nigel talks about his new book Bodies of Men.
The life of the town centres around the pub, and the way in which the death provides a source for gossip, intrigue and transformation, but also in some respect brings the town together to support one another is charming. Cedar Valley is immensely readable and progresses in ways that are unpredictable but also smooth and natural.
Cameron’s first novel is not your usual mystery/love story. For one thing, her book has seventy-nine mosquitoes (but no sand-flies or ticks) squashed between the pages and they certainly give this story atmosphere. In fact there are experiments with mosquitoes, mosquitoes in jars and cages; yes so many hungry bloodsuckers and all just a figurative screen door away from biting you.
Ackland handles these themes carefully and subtly – never overstating or diagnosing Thistle or Audra, or giving us too many answers in the mystery, but treating all of the characters with a kind of tender acceptance that is unconditional. Mysteries remain. Time moves forward. Memory is entirely unreliable, but the clues it leaves us are all we have. Little Gods is a poetic book full of beauty, loss, and resilience, exploring what remains in our lives as we move past our pivotal transitions and crises.
There is a kind of magic that is woven through the book, primarily from the language of flowers that works in conjunction with the semantical story but has its own silent meaning. Flannel flowers mean “what is lost is found”, Sturt’s Desert Peas, which are integral to the plot, mean “Have courage, take heart”, and Foxtails mean “Blood of my blood”. These flowers become Alice’s language when words fail her.