Australian Book Review

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Book reviews by Gillian Dooley for the Australian Book Review.


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Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    Untrimmed detail
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-12) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Halfway through "Matthew Flinders' Cat", the protagonist admits that, when writing, he finds it 'almost impossible to leave out what others might think of as superfluous detail. It was, he knew, self-indulgence.' Is this a moment of self-directed irony on Bryce Courtenay's part, or a case of the pot calling the kettle black? This novel brims with 'superfluous detail', and there is little attempt to curb the flow of information.
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    The Missing Captain. "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" by Robert Holden. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-08) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    The perils of a certain kind of historical writing are painfully demonstrated in "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", billed as 'the life of Australian whaling captain, William Chamberlain: a tale of abduction, adventure and murder'. The problems inherent in "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" arise from failures in both language and imagination. Holden has tried to put himself in Chamberlain's shoes and write from his point of view, but he has not made the imaginative leap necessary to write true historical fiction. Like many others before him, he has mistaken long words and convoluted sentences for genuine nineteenth-century prose. In the end, Holden lacks both the material to write a biography and the imagination to write an historical novel, and has fallen uncomfortably between two very high stools.
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    Feisty Times. "Women on the Rocks: A Tale of Two Convicts" by Kristin Williamson. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-11) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Early Sydney has beguiled many writers, and the latest to succumb is Kristin Williamson. She has combined an interest in the Rocks area with a self-confessed ‘obsession with our feisty female forebears’, and has produced an historical novel involving several real people. This book works well as a portrayal of a chaotic but vibrant society free of the rigid class structures of the home country, but "Women on the Rocks", for all its virtues, is a little too long, and the total effect is rather anodyne.
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    Batmania. "Bright Planet" by Peter Mews. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2004-05) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    "Bright Planet" is a wry, laconic book; bold, entertaining and slightly mannered. Mews’s vocabulary is vivid and his epithets at times startlingly original. It is a kind of sustained exercise in bravado; Mews is playing games with us. That is allowed: this is not history, but highly imaginative, fantastic fiction.
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    The Scurrying World. "The Secret Cure" by Sue Woolfe. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-10) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    In some ways, Sue Woolfe’s new novel, "The Secret Cure", deals with similar themes to her last novel, the award-winning "Leaning Towards Infinity" (1996). The central character of the novel is a young laboratory technician, Eva, unqualified but desperate to be a scientist. She nurses an obsessive love for a professor of immunology who has a professionally disadvantageous but compelling desire to find a cure for autism. This is an outstanding work of imagination, wit and intellect. I await with fascination the future development of this highly talented writer.
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    Rescuing Iris. "From a Tiny Corner in the House of Fiction: Conversations with Iris Murdoch" by Gillian Dooley (ed) [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-11) Goldsmith, Andrea
    While most of Murdoch’s novels are now back in print under the Vintage Classics imprint, Gillian Dooley’s collection of twenty-three interviews and conversations with Murdoch provides a welcome opportunity for the philosopher and writer to speak again in her own voice. And she does, fluently, elegiacally and with deep intelligence.