No 242 - June / July 2002
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Kerryn Goldsworthy's Essay 'After the Academy'; Dorothy Porter's Diary; Dennis Altman's 'Letter from New York; Gideon Haigh reviews Paul Strangio's Keeper of the Faith
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ItemTwenty Years On, May Bestsellers, August Highlights.(Australian Book Review, 2002-06)This item contains miscellaneous items from the June/July 2002 issue including May 2002 bestsellers.
ItemShrinking the Language. "Glory", by Sarah Brill and "Runestone", by Anna Cidor and "Swan Song", by Colin Thiele. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-06)The books under review here cater for widely differing age groups. The difference is not dictated by language — the level of English in each could be handled by any competent nine-year-old — but by their subject matter. "Runestone", the first in a series by Anna Ciddor, is set in Scandinavia during Viking times. Colin Thiele’s "Swan Song" is a step back in time. In "Glory", Sarah Brill’s first novel, readers will have dined on anorexia and adoption worries, and been exposed to suicide by page seventeen. By the book’s end, Brill’s fifteen-year-old heroine has left home, got a job, lost the job, lost her virginity, experimented with a smorgasbord of drugs, shacked up with a loser, faced eviction and experienced homelessness.
ItemTales for a Dry Country. "The Very Super Adventures of Nic and Naomi", by Venero Armanno and Anna Pignataro and "Quetta", by Gary Crew and Bruce Whatley and "The Magic Hat", by Mem Fox and "Old Tom's Holiday", by Leigh Hobbs and "A Year on Our Farm", by Penny Matthews. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-06)Virginia Lowe reviews several children's books here: picture books that relate the dryness of Australia and the joy of the rainy season; stories of forging unusual friendships; the familiar tragedy of shipwrecks; and the delight of Mem Fox's wacky rhymes.
ItemA Tense and Surging Affair. "Scraping through Stone", by Judith Fox. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-06)Richard I’s crusade to the Holy Land provides a dramatic backdrop for Fox’s New Age ‘fable about the mysteries of passion and faith’, in which Sibylla and Dominic grow up separately in England and Scotland before their various adventures and desires lead them through Europe to Jerusalem. In "Scraping through Stone", Fox works through a full suite of scenes recognisable from other ‘medieval’ novels.
ItemNew Pearls in the Magic Garage. "Magic Garage", by John Donnelly. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-06)John Donnelly’s "Magic Garage", with a stunning cover by Amelia Mollett, comes as a welcome surprise. Donnelly the insider prefers to avoid the foreigners’ Jakarta. Knowing his way around, he takes you off the highways and into the alleys and canals of Setiabudi, a fringe settlement targeted by corrupt developers and the even more corrupt army. You meet the ‘little people’ of Setiabudi who get in their way; you taste their salads and satays, sample their herbal medicines, smell their drains, see them bleed. All Donnelly’s ordinary people are manipulated and deceived by the system, but they are no slouches at manipulating and deceiving each other, whether they deal in Amway, massage, holy water, secrets or sex.
ItemCoetzee's Siberian Wastes. "Youth", by J.M. Coetzee. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-06)In "Youth", the South African novelist J.M. Coetzee (who has recently taken to the Adelaide Hills) continues the project he began some years ago with "Boyhood". We are told by the publishers that this is a novel; indeed, the use of the third person throughout makes this plausible. But there is little doubt that it is autobiographical, if not autobiography; if it is a novel, then the claim resides essentially in its being an exploration of mood and feeling, rather than external events — with perhaps an occasional fictional elaboration. Whatever the case, Coetzee is intent on tracking the Siberian wastes of himself.