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Category Archives: Reviews


The Writer at the Centre of the Essay: Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering

Loitering is Charles D’Ambrosio’s quietly brave collection of experimental essays. It doesn’t announce itself noisily, but associations slide sideways through the essays in unexpected ways. This collection is lyric in both senses – freely associative and loose, it borrows from the world, trying meaning on for size, producing metaphors and connections wherever it sees fit. Read more »

To see each other’s innards: Intimacy in Margaret Atwood’s Stone Mattress

In Stone Mattress, Atwood’s stories make a remarkable study of intimacy, of seeing each other’s innards, in different partnerships. Through the domestic details she describes, her masterful characterisation and her sharp tone, Atwood crafts the mundane into the profound. Read more »

Converting the Nonbeliever: Science fiction, climate change, and James Bradley’s Clade

For most of my reading life, I passed right over the fantasy and science fiction genres. As far as I was concerned, The Lord of the Rings was a decent doorstop, Dune was a prime spot on the beach from which to check out the swell, and 2001 meant only a year of once-distant promise, and now spiralling dread. Read more »

Dark Places and Safe Spaces: S.A. Jones’ Isabelle of the Moon and Stars

S.A. Jones’ Isabelle of the Moon and Stars is a powerful and affecting depiction of a young woman struggling with mental illness and emotional turmoil. Read more »

The modern epistolary novel: Annabel Smith’s The Ark

Annabel Smith has given the epistolary novel a twenty-first century reboot in her recently-released dystopian novel The Ark. Told through emails, blogs, procedural reports, speech transcripts and the occasional newspaper clipping, this impressive technical feat of storytelling is a clever and appropriate twinning of form and function. Read more »

Literal metaphors: Augie March’s Havens Dumb

Glenn Richards’ style of songwriting, which is heavily informed by poetry and history, is what has made Augie March’s work so distinctive. Australian indie music has a long association with literary allusions, but Augie March have never seemed merely referential. Read more »

These kinds of girls: The feminist essays of Roxane Gay and Lena Dunham

A galvanising moment is occurring now in popular gender politics and contemporary cultural texts. But unlike the 1990s wave of feminism, which heavily criticised mainstream representations of women in film and television, these new literary works not only accept these representations, but actively generate them. Read more »

‘Fool the Axis, Use Prophylaxis’: World War II’s anti-venereal disease posters

Protect Yourself: Venereal Disease Posters of World War II gives a fascinating insight into one of the ways the United States ‘managed’ servicemen’s sexuality: through poster art. Read more »

A joyous deception: Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals

In visual art, the compulsion to surrender to the belief you are falling either into or out of an image is known as trompe-l’oeil, French for ‘deceive the eye’. Ceridwen Dovey’s story collection Only the Animals encourages a comparable state of joyous deception. Read more »

Review: The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper Jew

This is a coming out story but one that desperately needed to be told on two counts – one because it’s an Australian YA coming-out story, and two because it’s a coming-out story about a young man questioning his homosexuality alongside his Jewish faith. Read more »