Sydney Review of Books
Hellfire
December 7th, 2017, 08:29 PM

Coney Island is the most human thing that God ever made, or permitted the Devil to make – Richard Le Gallienne. ‘Just for Fun’ is Luna Park’s motto, but to any Sydneysider the phrase sounds more like an entreaty than a declaration. Few cities place their fun-fairs so prominently, but the Park’s position – under […]

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Carey’s Race: A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey
December 5th, 2017, 08:29 PM

In his author’s note for A Long Way From Home (2017), Peter Carey explains, ‘I have spent my life writing about my Australian inheritance, interrogating our colonial past, or possible futures’. Indeed, Carey’s fiction has always been concerned with iconic events and characters that have shaped Australia’s identity: Dickens’ representation of Australia in Great Expectations […]

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Fictive Selves: The Life to Come
December 4th, 2017, 08:29 PM

Near the end of Michelle de Kretser’s The Life to Come, an elderly woman named Christabel throws two novels she has been reading into the bin. One of them is by a writer named George Meshaw, whose work ‘concerned itself with the brutal and inadequate mechanism of the world. As if that were any kind […]

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The Crazy Games of John Clarke
December 4th, 2017, 08:29 PM

The Tournament is one of the oddest and funniest books ever published in Australia. It’s like Afferbeck Lauder’s Let’s Stalk Strine, or the poems of Ern Malley: we could never have predicted its existence, but it allows us to see and hear ourselves differently. John’s early drafts made it plain that he was doing much […]

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The Horror! The Horror!: First Person by Richard Flanagan
November 30th, 2017, 08:29 PM

Two deaths – two executions – are at the heart of the darkness that is Richard Flanagan’s new novel, First Person. One takes place in the wild and remote Gulf country of northern Queensland and the other in the seemingly mundane setting of an outer Melbourne suburb. Notwithstanding these different environments, they are two versions […]

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Paradise Redux: The Essential Paradise Lost edited by John Carey
November 28th, 2017, 08:29 PM

So, John Carey wants to make Paradise Lost, that grand embellishment of the Genesis story, more accessible. He believes readers today are put off not by the poem’s religious content or sexual politics or by the fact that it is written in an obsolete form but by its vast length. True, its length has always […]

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In The Estuary: Felicity Castagna’s No More Boats
November 27th, 2017, 08:29 PM

In Felicity Castagna’s No More Boats, we are repeatedly reminded that the novel’s locale, Parramatta, marks the shifting aqueous site in Sydney’s Western suburban landscape where ‘saltwater meets fresh’. Historically, this is the place where Australia’s early colonial explorers, travelling up the Parramatta River from Sydney Cove in 1788, could take their boats no further. […]

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Talking to the Dog: The Years, Months, Days by Yan Lianke
November 27th, 2017, 08:29 PM

He kept talking to the dog until it became quite used to the sound of his voice. It hardly looked up now when he spoke. It came and went without trepidation, eating and barking its curt acknowledgement from across the street. Soon now, Neville told himself, I’ll be able to pat his head. The days […]

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Two Lives in the Cross
November 23rd, 2017, 08:29 PM

JOHN My first relationship with the Cross was primal, as primal as you can get: my mother lived in the Cross. I was nine when what seemed like decades of fighting came to an end and she moved out of the family home to live with the man who became her second husband, leaving my […]

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Forty Whacks: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
November 21st, 2017, 08:29 PM

My daughter is eight years old and has started to ignore us when she is reading. ‘Time to brush your teeth!’ No answer. ‘Can you put your PJs on?’ Nothing. ‘Just to the end of the chapter, OK?’ We give up and close the door. We don’t push her because we know what she has […]

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