CategoryReviews of Australian Literature

Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey

I do like books with multiple storylines and setting them in different centuries is appealing. A woman working in a London museum of clocks and other mechanisms learns her long-time lover died suddenly. Catherine must grieve secretly as he was married and had children. Her boss who knows the secret finds a project for her that will isolate her from colleagues as she recovers. The project comes...

The Boy Behind the Curtain by Tim Winton

I found this audiobook of essays written and read by Tim Winton so heartening that when I finished it, I listened to it again immediately. I have never done that before, either listening or reading a book, so what is different about this one? First he writes so beautifully, using such a literate vocabulary with the bonus of the vernacular of Australia, perhaps in particular, working class...

The Body in the Clouds by Ashley Hay

This 2010 book was the author's first; it was recently published in the US and reviewed in the New York Times, perhaps because of the acclaim her second novel (The Railwayman's Wife) has received. I want to rely on that review for capturing the wonder of this novel so beautifully while I record some tangential bits that I want to remember.  Three stories are set in...

Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

SPOILER ALERT! I begin by saying I can keep no secrets in writing about this book. In the first 40% of the book you know something is up, but you don’t know quite what it is. I knew that much from what ANZ LitLovers wrote about it. But I must say I didn’t guess what it was. It begins with the story of a young man Jacky escaping from what we later learn is a farm owned by...

Careful, He Might Hear You by Sumner Locke Elliott

This went on my list of books to read some months ago, but it moved it when I noted how much Kim of Reading Matters enjoyed it recently. First published in 1963 this is the story of a boy whose mother died shortly after he was born, brought up by his aunts in Sydney during the Depression. He is known as P.S., so anointed by his mother when she knew she would not survive. in her view he would be...

Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane

Recently this 2011 book came to my notice by way of ANZ LitLovers LitBlog and having read Lisa's review as well as Sue's review at Whispering Gums, decided I would read it. July 2-9 is NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week and ANZ LitLovers is celebrating with Indigenous Literature Week. What good fortune this was for me:  this is a terrific read...

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

I was interested in this book for a couple of reasons: ┬áit won the Stella Prize (Australian prize celebrating women’s writing) in 2016 and it was one of Reading Matters’ top books last year. I read one of her other books (The Submerged Cathedral) and was impressed. I hesitated, though, because it’s dystopian, thus outside my usual interest, and I concluded it was too clearly...

The Watch Tower by Elizabeth Harrower

I recently read James Woods' 2014 piece in The New Yorker about Elizabeth Harrower and made a note to read her work. I began with the one he called her masterpiece, written in 1966. She wrote only six novels and shortly before publication of the last one in 1971, stopped the presses. Her work is now in print, including that last one, thanks to Text publishing.  She...

Aunts Up the Cross by Robin Dalton

Robin Dalton is a renown literary agent (four of her authors won Booker prizes) and movie producer (Oscar and Lucinda). She was born in 1920 in Sydney and moved to London in 1946. This short book that she wrote about her eccentric family was first published in 1965 and again recently with an introduction by Clive James. It opens with this irresistible bit: My great-aunt Juliet was knocked over...

Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner

I can't say when I last read a book of essays, but based on this Australian author's novel The Spare Room that I read in 2009 and Reading Matters' review, I decided to give it a try. It's so good that all I can do is fill this post with quotes. One essay is called Eight Views of Tim Winton, thus combining a reference to Japanese woodblock prints, e.g., Thirty-Six Views of Mt...

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