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Issue Details: First known date: 2020... no. 420 April 2020 of Australian Book Review est. 1961 Australian Book Review
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'The April issue of ABR appears at a time of enormous crisis and seclusion around the world. Never has good journalism or creative writing been more important. In 'Coronavirus and Australian Book Review', the Editor outlines how the magazine is responding to Covid-19. Elsewhere in the issue, Jenny Hocking (Gough Whitlam's biographer) writes about John Kerr and the Palace Letters, and Johanna Leggatt laments the likely closure of AAP, with its ominous consequences for media diversity and investigative journalism. We have reviews of new books by Felicity Plunkett, Cassandra Pybus, Tom Keneally, Lydia Davis, and many more.' (Publication summary)


  • Contents indexed selectively.


* Contents derived from the 2020 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Coronavirus and Australian Book Review, Peter Rose , single work essay

'After a summer of bushfires across the nation and phenomenal loss and destruction, Australia – like the rest of world – now faces a health crisis of fearsome scope. As we go to press (earlier than planned because of present uncertainties), the scale of the threat, unprecedented in our times, is becoming stark.' (Introduction)

Desire Lines by Felicity Volk, Alice Nelson , single work review
— Review of Desire Lines Felicity Volk , 2020 single work novel ;

'The poet Anne Michaels once wrote that when love finds us, our pasts suddenly become obsolete science. All the secret places left fallow by loneliness are flooded with light and the immanence of the longed-for one draws us into the clearing, stains us with radiance. Yeats’s wing-footed wanderer arrives at last and the miraculous restorations of love and the imperatives of desire render our separate pasts ‘old maps, disproved theories, a diorama’.' (Introduction)

The Dickens Boy by Tom Keneally, Geordie Williamson , single work review
— Review of The Dickens Boy Thomas Keneally , 2020 single work novel ;

'When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished.’ That gunshot of a quotation comes from the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. I suspect he means writers are traitors to biology – they have higher allegiances than blood ties. Art is their true spouse; their works are the favoured first-born.'  (Introduction)

Amnesty by Aravind Adiga, Alison Broinowski , single work review
— Review of Amnesty Aravind Adiga , 2020 novel ;

'Much political mileage has been made in Australia from the turning back of ‘boat people’. Travel by boat is the cheapest means of getting to this island continent, and the most dangerous. Boat travellers are the poorest and the most likely to be caught and deported or sent to an offshore camp. But their number is less than half of those who arrive by air as tourists and apply for refugee protection: some 100,000 have done so during the seven years of this Coalition government.' (Introduction)

Four Auspicious Début Collections by Mandy Beaumont, Dominic Carew, Wayne Marshall, and Sean O'Beirne, Susan Midalia , single work review
— Review of Wild Fearless Chests Mandy Beaumont , 2020 selected work short story ; No Neat Endings : Stories Dominic Carew , 2020 selected work short story ; Shirl Wayne Marshall , 2020 selected work short story ; A Couple of Things Before the End : Stories Sean O'Bierne , 2020 selected work short story ;

'The American writer Jack Matthews had no time for what he called ‘a discontent’ with the brevity of the short story. ‘Ask a coral snake,’ he declared, ‘which is as deadly as it is small.’ The claim for ‘deadliness’ certainly applies to four recent début collections; in the tight spaces of the short story, each one presents confronting ideas about contemporary Australia.'  (Introduction)

The Loudness of Unsaid Things by Hilde Hinton, Naama Grey-Smith , single work review
— Review of The Loudness of Unsaid Things Hilde Hinton , 2020 single work novel ;

'Hilde Hinton’s début novel is character-driven storytelling at its best. Its narrator, Susie, is a perpetual outsider whose world comprises ‘her dad, her crazy sometimes-there mum and a house that didn’t look like the others’. Susie faces life’s brutal realities earlier than most: by Year Seven she has moved from the country to the city, taken up selling newspapers in Melbourne’s streets, where adventure lurks but so do ill-motivated men, and seen her mother drifting ‘in and out of the mind hospitals’.'  (Introduction)

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan, Kirsten Tranter , single work review
— Review of The Good Turn Dervla McTiernan , 2020 single work novel ;

'Dervla McTiernan’s third novel consolidates her standing as a star of Irish detective fiction, following her breakout début, The Rúin (2018), and its follow-up, The Scholar (2019), all featuring Detective Sergeant Cormac Reilly.'  (Introduction)

The Coconut Children by Vivian Pham, Sonia Nair , single work review
— Review of The Coconut Children Vivian Pham , 2017 single work novel ;

'The Coconut Children is an assured début from nineteen-year-old novelist Vivian Pham, who has drawn upon the richness of Sydney’s south-western suburbs to construct a deeply affecting coming-of-age story revolving around teenager Sonny.' (Introduction)

The Hypermarket by Gabriel García Ochoa, Cassandra Atherton , single work review
— Review of The Hypermarket Gabriel Garcia Ochoa , 2019 single work novel ;

'The Hypermarket, an enigmatic and deeply uncanny novel, explores ‘mistranslation’ against the backdrop of Nietzsche’s philosophy of Eternal Return. Gabriel García Ochoa’s début novel transforms the Houghton Library at Harvard University into a Borgesian space. As the narrator is undertaking his research, he comes across an excerpt from a letter copied into an old diary. It details the lives of people living in a supernatural Hypermarket, ‘where the linoleum floor gives way to moss and a young, tender turf’. In a highly significant moment, the narrator rips out the pages and stores them in volume six of The Arabian Nights.' (Introduction)

Below Deck by Sophie Hardcastle, Astrid Edwards , single work review
— Review of Below Deck Sophie Hardcastle , 2020 single work novel ;

'Below Deck is a stunning literary novel. This is a poetic work that can be read aloud just as easily as it can be read in silence. Sophie Hardcastle wrote Below Deck in 2018 when she was a Provost’s Scholar in English Literature at Worcester College at the University of Oxford. As she reveals in the acknowledgments, she read a draft aloud to her professor, an experience that no doubt consolidated the flow of her prose.'  (Introduction)

The Grass Library by David Brooks, Ben Brooker , single work review
— Review of The Grass Library David Brooks , 2019 single work autobiography ;

'From the Man’s horse ‘blood[ied] from hip to shoulder’ in Banjo Paterson’s ‘The Man from Snowy River’ (1890) to the kangaroos drunkenly slaughtered in Kenneth Cook’s Wake in Fright (1961), non-human animals have not fared well in Australian literature. Even when, as in Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals (2014), the author’s imagination is fully brought to bear on the inner lives of animals, their fate tends towards the Hobbesian – ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’ – reflecting back to us our own often unexamined cruelty. The rare exceptions, such as J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello (2003), incorporating a fictionalised series of animal-rights lectures, serve only to point up the rule.' (Introduction)

Ten Doors Down : The Story of an Extraordinary Adoption Reunion by Robert Tickner, Josh Black , single work review
— Review of Ten Doors Down Robert Tickner , 2020 single work autobiography ;

'Twenty years ago, Robert Tickner tried his hand at the nuanced art of political memoir. Taking a Stand (2001) was, he said, ‘an insider’s account of momentous initiatives’ in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs portfolio in the 1990s. A portrait of the politician as a young man, son, father, and husband was not in the offing. Cabinet diarist Neal Blewett, a man not renowned for political flamboyance, described Tickner’s narrative as ‘remorselessly impersonal’. Privately, it seems, Tickner also protested that ‘the public me is not the real me!’' (Introduction)

The Woman Who Cracked the Anxiety Code : The Extraordinary Life of Dr Claire Weekes by Judith Hoare, Carol Middleton , single work review

'On Boxing Day 1962, The Australian Women’s Weekly opened with a two-page spread on a new publication, Self Help for Your Nerves, by Sydney physician Dr Claire Weekes. Her four precepts for people suffering from ‘nerves’ appeared in huge, bold type: facingacceptingfloating, and letting time pass. Positive reviews followed, including one by Max Harris in ABR’s December 1962 issue. Wary of the ‘help yourself psychiatry’ genre, Harris was quickly persuaded by its ‘particular excellence’. The book went on to become a bestseller in the US and UK markets, and Weekes followed it up with four more.' (Introduction)

Advances : Literary News, Peter Rose , single work obituary
A Kinder Sea by Felicity Plunkett, Philip Mead , single work review
— Review of A Kinder Sea Felicity Plunkett , 2020 selected work poetry ;

'Felicity Plunkett has being doing good works in the poetry sphere for some time now. She has edited for UQP a recent series of new and established poets; she reviews a wide variety of poetry in newspapers and magazines, as well as writing evocatively, in this journal, about influential figures in popular Australian poetics like Nick Cave and Gurrumul Yunupingu. Valuably, she has also made practical contributions to poetry teaching in the secondary English curriculum. Now she has published a second volume of her own poetry, a varied collection of highly accomplished poems.'  (Introduction)

David McCooey Reviews Three New Poetry Collections, David McCooey , single work review
— Review of Enfolded in the Wings of a Great Darkness Peter Boyle , 2019 selected work poetry ; The Lowlands of Moyne Brendan Ryan , 2019 selected work poetry ; Carte Blanche Thom Sullivan , 2019 selected work poetry ;
Eagerly We Burn: Selected Poems 1980–2018 by Barry Hill, Geoff Page , single work review
— Review of Eagerly We Burn Barry Hill , 2019 selected work poetry ;

'There is probably no book in a poet’s career more important than his or her first Selected Poems. It is here that poets have the opportunity to display the best of their work in all its variety over several decades. Individual collections are a mere step on the way. Collecteds tend to be posthumous and of interest mainly to scholars, reference libraries, and a cluster of devotees.' (Introduction)

Blueberries by Ellena Savage, Caitlin McGregor , single work review
— Review of Blueberries Ellena Savage , 2020 selected work prose ;

'The writerly ‘I’ is notoriously fraught and political in non-fiction writing. What are the implications of writing from a biased and limited perspective (as all of us inevitably do)? How to get around – or work within – the constraints of the personal? These questions are ethical ones but also ones of craft. Many memoirists and essayists have grappled explicitly with them on the page.' (Introduction)

Ali Alizadeh Is Poet of the Month, single work interview
Open Page with Cassandra Pybus, single work interview

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Last amended 17 Apr 2020 09:15:55
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