2016 – oliver of the levant – debra jopson

Oliver of the Levant Debra Jopson

I photographed my neighbourhood, where fresh concrete walls climbed skyward, leaving crumbs of soil around their edges, as if they were plants pushing up out of the weeds. I knew every speck of view from seven floors up. If I pressed my nose against my bedroom window, I could follow the bony backs of cats stalking invisible prey in the giant hole gouged from orange clay, which we called ‘the quarry’ … The quarry reeked of cats’ piss and rotting fruit mingled with sweet, poisonous exhaust fumes. It didn’t stop people from climbing to the quarry top on the evening to watch the sun drop into the sea. I’d train my lens on them as they munched snacks and danced to tinny taped songs, while their faces turned yellow, then red.

Here’s a little extract from Debra Jopson’s “wise, nuanced coming-of-age story”, Oliver of the Levant, which I reviewed for Newtown Review of Books last week. My thanks, as always, to editors, Linda and Jean. Click here to head over to NRBland and have a read.

glassesgreyxxsm

(And as for returning to blogging, I have a lot to say, it’s just a matter of working out how to say it…and if it’s even worth saying. You know. The usual.)

2016 – everywhere i look – helen garner

everywhereilook

One day I heard what sounded like music, very faint and far away. I thought I was hallucinating, and kept walking. But every time I passed the entrance to a certain west-running hallway, the same thing would happen: fragile drifts of notes and slow arpeggios, as if a ghost in a curtain-muffled room were playing a piano. I was too embarrassed to ask if anyone else had heard it; was I starting to crack up? But one day when there was no one else around I went in search of it. I found that an intersection of two corridors had been roofed in glass or Perspex. Two benches had been placed against a wall, and from a tiny speaker, fixed high in a corner, came showering these delicious droplets of sound. It was a resting place that some nameless benefactor had created, for people who thought they couldn’t go on.

Linda and Jean from Newtown Review of Books were kind enough to let me review Helen Garner’s latest, Everywhere I Look.

(Needless to say, I’m a bit of a Garner fan…)

2014 – the wonders – paddy o’reilly

Wonders

The stare is a different thing altogether. Leon had come to think of the stare as admiration Maybe Kathryn was right. A child uses the stare as a tool of curiosity and wonder. The grotesque is wonderful. The malformed is wonderful, the unexpected is wonderful and so is the beautiful. There is far less judgement in the unguarded stare of a child than the hush-ups of their adult companions.

He told Kathryn how, at a private dinner, a child who was waiting in the corridor for her waitress mother to finish work had asked him if he was a robot. That made him laugh. ‘Is your brain made of metal too?’ she asked. She was five, the age when the questions pour out of a child like milk out of a jug. ‘Do you eat nails? Why did they put it in that way? Do you have feelings?’

‘Oh yes,’ Leon answered her. ‘I have so many feelings that sometimes I think I’ll burst.’

‘Me too, she replied gravely. She touched his hand and looked up at his face with serious eyes. Eyes that didn’t waver. Eyes that never flickered once to the hole in his chest

Earlier this week, I reviewed Paddy O’Reilly’s The Wonders for Newtown Review of Books. It’s a novel so full of ideas it might burst. If you’re interested, head over and take a look.

2014 – angela meyer ~ captives

captives

Captives is slightly larger in size than Paul Wilson’s ‘miniature’, The Little Book of Calm – however, if you’re looking for anything calm in these 112 pages, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The Little Book of Unheimlich would have made a fitting subtitle for Meyer’s collection of 37 captivating microfictions – short works of anything between a single paragraph and a few pages, each bound together by a shared sense of deep disquietude. 

Scuttle over to Newtown Review of Books and read the rest of my review of Angela Meyer’s Captives – a deceptively cute little book about dark, dark things.

More? But of course. Here’s an interview with Angela Meyer by Daniel Young from Tincture Journal about the publication of Captives – as well as writing in a more general sense.

(Coincidentally, happy birthday for today, Franz Kafka! I didn’t have any cockroaches on hand, so ladybeetles will have to do…)