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Two Book Reviews

The following book reviews were written for The Weekend Australian back in 2016. For whatever reason — probably the fact that I didn’t file them on time — they were never published. I’m putting them out there now for posterity’s sake. From the review

Why read ‘The Flashman Papers’ today?

When George MacDonald Fraser sat down to pen Flashman, the first volume of what would eventually become a thirteen-book series known as ‘The Flashman Papers’, one doubts he knew how enduring his titular character would become. A minor figure in Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s

‘Saga Land’ brings Iceland’s historic stories to life

I didn’t know much about the Icelandic sagas—or indeed much about Iceland itself, as it turned out—before opening Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason’s Saga Land. I’d be surprised if I’m alone in learning something new in its pages. I’d made

A novel idea

A novel idea

Books , Criticism Jun 29, 2017

In her celebrated 2008 essay, ‘Two Paths for the Novel,’ Zadie Smith set out to define exactly what it said on the label. There was Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland, with its lyrical realism and “authentic story of a self,” and Tom

Louis Nowra’s paean to a suburb

It’s a rare profile of Sydney writer Louis Nowra that fails to mention his long-term patronage of the Old Fitzroy Hotel in Woolloomooloo. It’s an easy journalistic go-to (and, as he reveals at one point in Woolloomooloo: A Biography, an

Stranger than fiction: Donald Trump and ‘The Plot Against America’

No author of speculative fiction wants to be proven right. To be proven right in the spec-fic game is to see the worst come to pass. No, speculative fiction is written as a warning, and the crow of “I told

Fran Bryson a traveller with a nose for social injustice

Brazil is in the news again. Just as FIFA World Cup celebrations two years ago were marred by popular protests in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere in response to exorbitant public spending on the event, while public services

Sandor Jaszberenyi’s ‘The Devil is a Black Dog’ fires on reporters

At what point should a journalist transmute first-hand experience into fiction? Where does one draw the line between what can be reported as fact and what should probably be reported some other way, even if one has seen it with