Tag: literary fiction

A review of Passenger by Cormac McCarthy

In the interest of full disclosure (and how seldom we hear of disclosure that is not full), I didn’t like the authorial voice of The Passenger from the first page. But we’ll come to Alicia and her troubles later. To continue with the discussion of signifiers, here we have an author steeped in Americana: the American story, as understood by America, and the cultural signifiers best known by Americans.

A review of Prétend by Arielle Burgdorf

I love this book. It is located at the crossroads (if not terminus) of cultural appropriation, mistranslation, gender and identity fluidity. Carrère’s fake identity novel, the brilliantly glib aspersions of Nightwood — all this and more are revivified in Arielle Burgdorf’s masterful take on identity in an increasingly amorphous world.

A review of Red Milk by Sjón

Though I can understand, and perhaps even entertain, Sjón’s intentions regarding his latest work, I think that both the writing style and characterization seem a bit too simplistic, falling flat in the end and leaving the reader feeling that this could be much more intriguing if the Icelandic wordsmith followed his traditional recipe, creating sentences that urge you to read them aloud in order to bask in their brilliance.

A review of Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

Chekhov, however, is writing about class changes in the Russia of his day, so Our Town, an American work, seems more likely to be an influence on Patchett than The Cherry Orchard” is. Like Thornton Wilder, Ann Patchett shows the value of rural life, family and community, but, by presenting Lara’s earlier life, she acknowledges the significance of the wider world in making her knowledgeable and open-minded.  Tom Lake is not as parochial as Our Town.

A review of Bad Art Mother By Edwina Preston

There is so much about this book that is compelling. It manages to be both funny and tragic at the same time, without stereotypes or polemic. Though there are moments of bad behaviour on the part of pretty much every character, nothing is over-simplified. There are as many different ways to create art, from Jo’s food or charity work, to the Mirka Mora styled murals of Jo’s waitress Rosa, or the ikebana flower arrangements of Mrs Parish, as there are ways to be a partner, a parent, or a patron. 

A review of Daisy & Woolf by Michelle Cahill

Daisy & Woolf is a rich, complex book that blurs binaries and boundaries, provoking big questions around art, parenting, love, privilege, colonisation, and creativity.The narrative flows quickly, driven by its dual protagonists, with the book unfolding its denser meaning later, in the shared collaborative space between reader and writer.

A review of The Age of Fibs by Beth Spencer

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.

A review of Shaky Town by Lou Mathews

In Shaky Town, Mathews expertly shows us how things work and why they break down, taking apart and putting back together a range of small, yet fully felt lives. His overlapping worlds are mapped in prose that shimmers like hammered copper. He knows this territory well: you don’t doubt that when a certain bug shrinks the leaves of a eugenia hedge, more of a morose neighbor’s sad guitar music will bleed through.

A review Poly by Paul Dalgarno

There are two things I appreciate most about this brave novel by Dalgarno. The first is that it explores so candidly the inner world of the narrator—Chris – who is painted with such pathos, to provoke tenderness and vulnerability in the reader and cast toxic masculinity under scrutiny. Secondly, I appreciate how it aroused in me important conversations on love and ethics, coloured by story.