No 244 - September 2002

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'September 11: A Symposium': Joy Hooton on Drusilla Modjeska's Timepieces; Craig Sherborne reviews Cheryl Kernot's and Franca Arena's memoirs; John Martinkus reviews Deliverance; David McCooey reviews new poetry


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Now showing 1 - 6 of 34
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    Exit Left. "See How It Runs: Nimrod and the New Wave", by Julian Meyrick. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-09) Thomson, Helen
    It is snatching some kind of victory out of defeat to write a PhD thesis about the rise and fall of a theatre company, and Julian Meyrick has successfully transformed thesis into book. This has been achieved mainly through very good writing; lively, intelligent and uncluttered by jargon. The formal paraphernalia of the thesis — notes, appendices, statistics, bibliography and index — are not only useful in themselves, but crucial evidence for the argument. "See How It Runs" provides a cool analysis of a complex process of entropy. Nevertheless, while it is the scholarly and frequently self-reflexive methodology that constrains, authorial opinion has a welcome presence in the form of refreshingly decided perspectives and vivid descriptive powers.
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    Post-Human Futures. "Transcension", by Damien Broderick and "Schild's Ladder", by Greg Egan. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-09) Blackford, Russell
    Since 1990 Australian science fiction (SF) has undergone an extraordinary renaissance. These new books by Broderick and Egan, "Transcension" and "Schild’s Ladder", are at the genre’s cutting edge. Both writers attempt to imagine worlds that have undergone truly radical change, as a result of which humanity itself has been superseded or deeply altered. Such post-human scenarios are now debated intensely within the genre, as its practitioners reflect upon the contemporary technological trajectory. Once the possibilities for powerful new technologies, such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI), become clearer, the debate will increasingly spill over into the intellectual mainstream, a process already underway. Today’s serious SF themes are tomorrow’s mainstream social and political issues.
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    Salty Pleasures. "Attempts at Being", by Alison Croggon and "The Long Moment", by Kate Fagan and "Screens Jets Heaven: New and Selected Poems", by Jill Jones and "Versary", by Kate Lilley. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-09) McCooey, David
    Aesthetic pleasure is immediately apparent in these new works from Salt, the Anglo-Australian publisher that has developed an exciting international poetry list ranging from Ron Silliman to Dennis Haskell. The pleasure of reading this list is partly bibliographic. Salt publishes some of the bestlooking (and most reasonably priced) poetry books in the country. The stock is excellent and the text well designed. At a time when the chances of getting a book of poetry published is as slim as a supermodel, it must be doubly pleasing to be published by a company like Salt. These new works continue Salt’s stylish, serious approach to poetry.
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    Young Adrian's Murky Fears. "Of a Boy", by Sonya Hartnett. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-09) Middleton, Kate
    Sonya Hartnett’s "Of a Boy", written for the adult market after her many successful young adult novels, begins with a kidnapping, which provides a counterpoint to the central story of nine-year-old Adrian. Hartnett’s style is well-suited to adult fiction, and "Of a Boy" is a rewarding novel. Full of the complexities of its characters’ perceptions and Adrian’s immobilising fears, it is a deeply moving story.
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    School of Hard Knocks. "The Learning Curve", by John Foulcher and "Life Given", by Graeme Hetherington and "History: Selected Poems, 1978-2000", by Michael Sharkey. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-09) King, Richard
    John Foulcher’s "The Learning Curve" is a sequence of poems set in a fictional school called Saint Joseph’s. Using mainly dramatic monologues, Foulcher paints a depressing picture of a school where professional disappointments, an inept and religion-infested staff, and a general air of mutual loathing combine to produce what amounts to a psychological tragedy (with some physical tragedies thrown in for good measure). Like "The Learning Curve", Graeme Hetherington’s "Life Given" is effectively a sequence and deals at length with the traumas of childhood. Unlike "The Learning Curve", however, "Life Given" gives it to the reader straight, in traditional lyric form. So explicit, indeed, is Hetherington about his own unpleasant childhood and general state of mind that a reference to ‘confessional’ poetry is almost unavoidable. Many of the poems in Michael Sharkey's "History: Selected Poems 1978–2000" would have benefited from a bit of smartening up. This is a shame, because Sharkey can write attractively. His best poems are those about love, which have a distracted, outsiderish quality.
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    Lost Wings in Angel Rock. "Angel Rock", by Darren Williams. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-09) Byrne, Madeleine
    "Angel Rock" revolves around the story of lost children. First, the two Ferry boys go missing, then a sixteen-year-old girl from the town. The anti-hero detective, Gibson, is also a lost child seeking answers to a crime committed in his youth. The novel is essentially a picaresque, within the crime fiction genre, but also a kind of Australian Gothic filled with evangelical preachers, forbidden desire and idiot savants. If Williams had followed the crime fiction genre more closely, "Angel Rock" might have ushered in something new in Australian writing. A tighter narrative would have improved the novel’s overall pace. Williams does, however, create a strong sense of place and community.
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