''When a succession of murders shatters the tranquillityof an East Anglian seafaring town, irrational suspicion spreads like a contagious plague. In the murky pubs and on the cobbled street corners gossip is rife. Could Frank de Vere have shot his own wife through the head? Could Greg be the mad-dog killer of his brother?'
'Randolph Stow’s ‘English’ novels, The Girl Green as Elderflower (1980) and The Suburbs of Hell (1984) offer complex representations of space in text, which layer narrative and memory each over the other to inform the known setting. The resulting conceptualisation of place holds at its centre a transnational fluidity, which, when combined with the overt textual links between the stories and Stow’s own life, suggests a unique practice of place-making within his writing as an oeuvre. Reading Stow’s The Suburbs of Hell along these lines suggests it has a greater connection to a more general consideration of Australian narratives of place that might be assumed given its English setting. But what is specifically functioning within Stow’s writing practice to create places which embody this transnational mutability? This paper will examine Stow’s practice in writing for the purpose of understanding the manner in which the text constructs its setting, and whether or not reading these connections between Stow’s life and the text are productive of a cognizance of place-making in terms of writing practice.' (Publication abstract)
'Randolph Stow (1935–2010) moved to England in the 1960s, choosing to settle in his ancestral places, first in Suffolk, then in Essex. This article considers how ‘Englishness’ is evident in his choice of home, in the influences on his writings, in his interest in myth, and in his use of dialect. Continuity and renewal lie at the heart of his final two novels, The Girl Green as Elderflower and The Suburbs of Hell in Essex, this ‘circling’ a particularly English trait. Stow came to know and love his new East Anglian countryside, writing its greenness and its flowers into The Girl Green as Elderflower, its gritty coast into The Suburbs of Hell. Much has been written of Stow’s evocation of landscape in his Australian novels, and the same receptivity to place can be seen in his final two novels. The article draws heavily on biographical resonances and on Stow’s many letters home, as well as linking his work to other writers who have been captivated by the unique atmosphere of the east of England, with its flat expanses and wide skies.' (Publication abstract)