''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 expatriate novels, Visitants (1979), The Girl Green as Elderflower (1980) and The Suburbs of Hell (1984) are often read as emerging from specific experiences in Stow’s expatriate life, beyond Australia—the two former as his ‘fever’ novels, informed by his work and illness in the Trobriand Islands and subsequent recovery in England; and the latter carrying the experience of an event from Stow’s Australian past into the setting of Harwich, England, where he lived from the early 1980s until his death in 2010. I have discussed elsewhere the overt connection in The Suburbs of Hell to Australia (Noske, ‘Chatter’), but it is also possible to read in the earlier texts connections with Stow’s life in Australia, particularly in his representation of landscape. Reading The Girl Green as Elderflower in this context opens interesting possibilities in understanding the spaces constructed within. This article will argue that Stow’s writing in the novel presents a complex transnationalism, one which challenges extant critical responses to Stow’s expatriation. It reads Stow’s place-making as embracing a fluidity that allows him to actively respond to postcolonialism as a global phenomenon and in doing so, examine Australian spaces through the lens of expatriation.' (Publication abstract)
'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)