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Alternative title: ABR
Issue Details: First known date: 2018... no. 405 October 2018 of Australian Book Review est. 1961 Australian Book Review
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  • Environment issue


* Contents derived from the 2018 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
The Other Side of the Fence : Anatomising the Cruel Experiment That Is Offshore Detention, Felicity Plunkett , single work essay

'Behrouz Boochani describes being smashed into the sea by the boulder-like weight of an overpacked, splintering boat transporting asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia. The wreck’s ‘slashed carcass’ gashes the flailing survivors and the bodies of those who have died, and Boochani settles under a wave, finding refuge ‘by imagining myself elsewhere’. Finding the strength to surface, he sees a group of men clinging to a wooden spar torn from the battered boat. Its spikes lacerate Boochani’s legs as he sinks and surfaces amid violent waves. A British boat approaches: ‘our gruelling odyssey has come to an end’. Having faced death in those underwater moments, Boochani reflects that ‘even a brush with mortality gives life a marvellous sense of meaning’.'  (Introduction)

(p. 8-9)
Blindsided, Gail Bell , single work review

'Any Ordinary Day, Leigh Sales’s investigative report from the coalface of tragedy and resilience, is based on solid research and lengthy interviews. Sales, who wants to know the secrets of surviving outrageous fortune, has the journalistic chops to take on the quest. ‘I rely on a particular skill set … I know how to craft a line of questioning,’ she writes early in her new book. Readers familiar with Sales’s on-camera persona as the anchor of ABC television’s The 7.30 Report will perhaps brace themselves for some field surgery as she probes the testimonies of people who have met and overcome one or more tragedies. But those readers may be surprised.'  (Introduction)

(p. 11, 13)
Grasshopper, Danielle Clode , single work review

'In 2014, veteran ABC science broadcaster Robyn Williams was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was, he reports, his third brush with death, following cardiac arrest in 1988 and bladder cancer in 1991. His description of the experience, including surgical reduction of his gut and rectum and subsequent debilitating chemotherapy, is brief but graphic. He has survived, but the experience, as he puts it, quite literally, gave him the shits. More positively though, it also resulted in this book: a collection of letters from the brink, ‘the book you write when you don’t have much time left’, although it is not entirely clear whether this lack of time is his own or, collectively, ours.'  (Introduction)

(p. 13-14)
Shelter, Francesca Sasnaitis , single work review

'For a homeless person, home is the street and the moveable blanket or bedroll. Ultimately, the only home remaining is the body. Fiona Wright is not homeless, she has been un-homed by her body’s betrayal. Whether she can ever feel that she fits again is the primary theme of her second collection of essays, The World Was Whole.'  (Introduction)

(p. 14-15)
'Wittgenstein, 1951, Peppered Moth'i"Tell me how they move", Davina Allison , single work poetry (p. 16)
The Hunter and Other Stories of Men' by David Cohen, Sophie Frazer , single work review

'In David Cohen’s collection of wry and quirky stories, he follows the lives of various men in their rituals of ordinariness – their failures, foibles, and fetishes – with a razor-like eye observing the disenchantments of modernity.'  (Introduction)

(p. 21)
What Makes an Arsonist? : Examining the Events of Black Saturday, Fiona Gruber , single work review

'The language we use to describe fire, Chloe Hooper points out, gives it a creaturely shape: it has flanks, tongues, fingers, a tail. It licks, it devours. Fascinated by its mythic force, we talk about taming a fire as we talk about taming a beast, but when it comes to vast tracts of bush, we can only contain it and wait for another natural force, the weather, to extinguish the flames.'  (Introduction)

(p. 22-23)
The Second Cure by Margaret Morgan, Jack Rowland , single work review
— Review of The Second Cure Margaret Morgan , 2018 single work novel ;

'A plague with myriad weird effects spreads throughout the world in Margaret Morgan’s début, a speculative political thriller. The disease’s name is toxoplasmosis pestis: it causes people to develop intense synaesthesia, to act in impulsive and dangerous ways, or to lose their religious faith. In Sydney, scientist Charlie Zinn attempts to synthesise a cure, while in Brisbane, journalist and ‘political tragic’ Brigid Bayliss tries to ‘shine daylight’ on the rise of a far-right Christian politician who is exploiting his state’s fear to gain power. There is a lot to set up in the novel’s first half, and not all of it is done with equal grace. Occasionally, Morgan’s reliance on scientific jargon can be difficult to wade through, especially when she outlines the disease’s ‘genetic mutation’. A number of chapters are heavily freighted with exposition.'  (Introduction)

(p. 26)
Landscape with Magic Lantern Slidesi"This stillness before rain – a field, its", Lisa Gorton , single work poetry (p. 41)
Dunbar Boys, Nicole Abadee , single work review

'Most writers seek to better their previous books, but in Markus Zusak’s case this goal was particularly difficult, given that his last book was The Book Thief. Published in 2005, it has sold sixteen million copies worldwide and spent ten years on the New York Times bestseller list. It is thus no surprise that Zusak has taken ten years to write Bridge of Clay, his sixth book.'  (Introduction)

(p. 42)
Jonestown Revisited, Anna MacDonald , single work review

'Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s novel Beautiful Revolutionarychronicles the decade leading up to the Jonestown massacre in Guyana when Jim Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple, orchestrated the ‘revolutionary suicide’ and murder of more than 900 members of his congregation, as well as the assassinations of US Congressman Leo Ryan, a delegation of journalists, and a defector from ‘the Cause’.'  (Introduction)

(p. 43)
Crossroads, Jane Sullivan , single work review

'A stranger rides into a one-horse town on a shiny new motorbike. Cue Ennio Morricone music. Except it’s not a stranger, it’s that skinny dark girl Kerry Salter, back to say goodbye to her Pop before he falls off the perch. The first conversation she has is in the Bundjalung language (translated for our benefit) with three cheeky crows. One bites a dead snake in the head and its fangs get wedged onto the bird’s beak, fastening it shut. Chances are it’ll starve to death, thinks Kerry. ‘The eaters and the eaten of Durrongo, having it out at the crossroads.’'  (Introduction)

(p. 46)
Water Worries, Brenda Walker , single work review

'‘In time and with water, everything changes,’ according to Leonardo da Vinci, who worked with Machiavelli on a strategic and ultimately doomed attempt to channel the flow of the Arno. Large-scale water management has had some notable successes in parts of Australia, but as poor practices and climate change put river systems under near-terminal stress, we face irreversible and potentially catastrophic ecological failures. Michael Cathcart, in The Water Dreamers (2009), provides an account of this. Attempts to rectify the ecological degradation of our rivers involve expensive and possibly futile federal policies, opportunism, and the potential for suffering in farming communities. Everything may indeed change in time and with water, but changes in water practices in Australia are particularly fraught.'  (Introduction)

(p. 47)
Marina and Constance, Sarah Holland-Batt , single work review

'What are the limits of maternal love? How do children fare in its absence? Is mothering a socialised behaviour or a biological impulse? These are the questions Alice Nelson pursues in her second novel, The Children’s House, which draws its title from the name given to the separate quarters alloted to children in the communal child-rearing characteristic of life in kibbutzim in Israel. The idea underpinning this parenting model is utopian, egalitarian, and socialist: the community, rather than the mother or father, assumes responsibility for the child; the parents, alleviated from the financial burden of caretaking, are free to pursue bonding and love in a way that capitalist imperatives preclude.'  (Introduction)

(p. 48)
Painting into the Eye of the Light : Evoking Bernard Smith, Brian Matthews , single work review

'The editors begin their introduction to Antipodean Perspective with some ground clearing: ‘The putting together of a series of responses to an important scholar’s work is a classic academic exercise. It is undoubtedly a worthy, but also necessarily a selective undertaking. In German it is called a Festschrift …’ The Festschrift continues to be, in academic circles especially, a way of honouring the work, contribution, influence, and originality of this or that scholar or, sometimes, of a university librarian or outstanding teacher.'  (Introduction)

(p. 53-54)
Open Page with Kristina Olsson, single work interview (p. 56)
Devilry, David Dick , single work review

'It is time to repent my sins. Recently, I have been asking myself if poetry is exempt from a need to entertain. Is the act of reading a poem or a book of poetry an escapist, amusing, joyous diversion from the rigours of reality? Or is it something more tedious, cold-blooded, blandly intellectual – an act not of enjoyment, but of control and imposition?'  (Introduction)

(p. 57)
The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady, Jay Daniel Thompson , single work review

'Cub lives next door to the yellow house. The girl also lives in the shadow of her grandfather, Les, who once owned that property, and who died years ago, after doing ‘ugly things’ to women. Indeed, Les’s crimes seem to cast a pall over Cub’s entire family. This is a family where warmth is in short supply. The parents speak in harsh, defensive tones. They refuse to discuss Les’s misdemeanours. Also, Cub’s parents refuse to allow their children to grow their hair, and react violently when this rule is disobeyed. Then Ian, a young man who is obsessed with Les, befriends Cub’s brother.' (Introduction)

(p. 58)
Conspiracy of Secrets : The Clamour and Comfort of Friends in Four YA Novels, Margaret Robson Kett , single work review
— Review of Between Us Clare Atkins , 2018 single work novel ; Hive A. J. Betts , 2018 single work novel ; I Had Such Friends Meg Gatland-Veness , 2018 single work novel ; P is for Pearl Eliza Henry-Jones , 2018 single work novel ;
(p. 58-59)
'The Coves' by David Whish-Wilson, Gillian Dooley , single work review

'A small bay is a cove, and so is a man, according to old-fashioned slang. The Coves takes advantage of this coincidence: it’s a story about a gang of men that rules ‘Sydney Cove’ in the mid-nineteenth century. But this is not the familiar Sydney Cove in New South Wales. There is another one across the Pacific in San Francisco, where arrivals from Australia, ‘pioneers in … viciousness and depravity’, were said to commit ‘atrocious crimes’, according to the novel’s epigraph from Herbert Asbury’s The Barbary Coast (1933).'  (Introduction)

(p. 59)

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Last amended 4 Oct 2018 06:29:13
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