New Oz Lit Fic

Journal: 031

Eltham Bookshop

New Oz Lit Fic: I can’t say I haven’t read any, but I haven’t read much. A situation I’ve ‘undertaken’ to Lisa (ANZLL) to do something about. My preferences can be covered by the words edgy, grunge, experimental, and leaving aside Gerald Murnane, I would say my favourite recent Australian was Elizabeth Tan’s Rubik, and before that The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood and everything by Jane Rawson (here, here and here).

For the second weekend in a row I’m stuck in Melbourne and overnighting at Mum’s (during the week I wasn’t completely idle, though some of Dragan’s drivers were, I did a load of mining equipment to Roxby Downs (map) – a round trip of 2,800 kms according to my run sheet). So, using as my starting point a couple of Lisa’s lists of prize-winners (here, here), the Stella Longlist, and your reviews, I am making up a wish list of my own, which I will take down to my local indie bookshop.

Ok, this is what I came up with:

Jamie Marina Lau, Pink Mountain on Locust Island (Reading Matters)

Ruby Murray, The Biographer’s Lover (Nathan Hobby)

Pip Adam (NZ), The New Animals (ANZLitLovers)

Kristina Olsson, Shell (ANZLitLovers)

Krissy Kneen, Wintering (Readings)

Melissa Lucashenko, Too Much Lip (ANZLitLovers)

Trent Dalton, Boy Swallows Universe (Whispering Gums)

And a couple of extras, in case I run into them in the shop:

Anything by Charlotte Wood before TNWoT

Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which WG (I think) recommended, for my grandson’s approaching birthday

What do you guys think? What have I missed (that fits my criteria)?

None of you has reviewed the Krissy Kneen. I enjoyed her earlier An Uncertain Grace and am tempted to put Wintering at the top of my list. Lisa I’m pretty sure would put Shell and numerous judges have put Boy Swallows Universe about which I am doubtful (on the basis of course of zero evidence).

Kate W where are you? I’d better check your Stella posts too. No, I’m afraid you didn’t persuade me on Little Gods.

I think I will make Pink Mountain on Locust Island my #2. Interestingly Kate (Booksaremyfavouriteandbest) and Kim (Reading Matters) make the same complaint about “nonsensical” similes, but Kate got me at:

I understand why readers are excited by Lau – her writing is expressive and commanding, with bizarre descriptions that have you re-reading and imagining –

Like many of you I follow Kim who covers English, Irish and Canadian Lit as well as Australian, Emma (Book Around the Corner) French and European, and Naomi (Consumed by Ink) Canadian. I am tempted by nearly every new book they review but #solittletime! And of course when I do run into these books as audiobooks, which are anyway mostly mainstream, I don’t connect back to the review. Case in point Herman Koch’s The Dinner. However I will add one US title reviewed by Melanie at Grab the Lapels because I am absolutely determined to read it ‘one day soon’.

fat assassins

And it’s only $1.00 on A*#@*# if I ever open an account.

Has weekend off, takes Mum shopping. How’d it turn out? I wrote most of the above Sat night. Today, Sunday I tried Eltham Bookshop which honestly I didn’t think was as good as its reviews. I looked at but bought neither Too Much Lip nor the prominently displayed Boy Swallows Universe.  Bought a book for Gee because, well she’ll have a birthday eventually, and one for Mum. Then we went round to Warrandyte and had a much more fruitful time in the second hand shop there, not to mention a very nice lunch at Next/Door.


What I Actually Bought

Kath Engebretson, Red Dirt Odyssey (2016) for Mum
Nam Le, The Boat (2008)
Gerald Murnane, A Season on Earth (2019)
Gee’s present

David Ireland, City of Women (hardback, dustjacket, 1st ed.)
Another present (One author. Stories from 1910-1920)
Christina Stead, The Little Hotel (hardback, dustjacket, 1st ed.)
Christina Stead, Ocean of Story
Elizabeth Jolley, An Accommodating Spouse
Elizabeth Jolley, Milk and Honey
Kim Mahood, Craft for a Dry Lake (memoir)
Bill Wannan ed., A Marcus Clarke Reader
William Burroughs, Junky

Recent audiobooks 

Judith Saxton (F, Eng), A Merry Mistress (2003) fictionalized life of Nell Gwynne
Jaqueline Winspear (F, Eng), Maisie Dobbs (2003)
Kurt Vonnegut (M, USA), Cat’s Cradle (1963)
John Steinbeck (M, USA), The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
Debra Webb (F, USA), Revenge (2013)
Amy Tan (F, USA), The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2003)
F. Paul Wilson (M, USA), The Dark at the End (2011)
Anne McCaffrey (F, Ire), Freedom’s Landing (1995)
Charles Willeford (M, USA), Miami Blues (1984)

Currently reading

Rob Shackleford, Traveller Inceptio (Australian new release ebook)
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk about when I Talk about Running
Thea Astley, Collected Stories (sitting neglected in the bottom of my backpack)

Currently reading on the net

Palmer Report (here).  If you want to follow the inevitable collapse of the Trump presidency day by day, minute by minute, this is for you (and its slightly hysterical tone is part of its charm).

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 1792 (Project Gutenberg). No, I’m not really reading it but Brona has and discusses it in a must-read post (here) and she in turn references the ‘Vindication’ read-along on A Great Book Study (Intro, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 (Ruth @ AGBS doesn’t seem to provide links between her own posts)).

This is all deserving of a full post but in the meanwhile let me make a couple of notes so they don’t get lost:
1. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was the mother of author Mary Shelley (Wiki).
2. I’ve always thought the major text first wave feminists like Catherine Helen Spence looked back to was JS Mills, The Subjection of Women, 1869 (Project Gutenberg). ” … the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes—the legal subordination of one sex to the other—is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement …”


Roxby Downs: Unloading drill rig from my (red) trailer to low loader for transport into mine.

20 thoughts on “New Oz Lit Fic

  1. Of your list, I have one lined up to read – Shell – but have made a note of the others though whether I can get them here in UK at reasonable price is another matter all together


    • i’m not sure they’re even a reasonable price in Australia. And not all readily available on a sample of one bookshop. I asked about Wintering and they said they’d have to order it in.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shell is sitting in my TBR stack, on the strength of Lisa’s review.

    Of the Stella list, I favoured the family/relationship stories – Little Gods, The Bridge, and Bluebottle. I thought Axiomatic was fantastic as well and two of the ‘essays’ have stayed with me.

    I still think Dovey’s In the Garden of Fugitives should have made the Stella longlist, and Rosalie Ham’s The Year of the Farmer (although, how do you feel about rural-Aus-satire?).

    As for Pink Mountain… well, I hope you enjoy it. I need more entertainment and les irritation when I read 😀

    My favourite books so far this year (reviews to come) – Boy Swallows Universe (yes, it lived up to the hype for me and the audio version is fantastic) and Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak (audio version read by Zusak). Again, both are family stories, albeit unconventional ones.


    • I know I should read the Stella winner – on the basis of Tracker which I came to late, but which I think the judges got absolutely right. But. Not yet. And I’m not even sure why I’m hesitating, so let’s hope I’ve got through 5 or 6 of them by the end of the year.


  3. SO much to comment on here Bill, l’ll probably forget some. I think Dalton is good but I could no more guess whether you would like it than fly! I’m intrigued by Lau but given all the books I ACTUALLY have here I don’t think I’ll get to it. I look forward to your response though. I like what you did buy -have read and loved some, hold others and would read most of the others if I could.

    Anyhow, I bet your mum isn’t sorry about your forced layovers!


    • No, mum’s pretty happy to have me stay. Dalton looked ok and Lukashenko even more so, and I looked at Mullimbimby as well. But I might as well start with Wintering and put up a review. I was really happy with my 2nd hand pickups – cheaper overall than the new. The shop at Warrandyte is well laid out, which is not always the case, and has a huge selection. (I was told the owner lives on his super and that what little profit there is comes from internet sales).


      • Yes, of course, I know I would forget to say something. My pick, in fact, would be the Lucashenko. I’d have liked to see it win the Stella. Such a clever piece of writing on a number of criteria.


  4. Thanks for the link to my review. Most of those books on your wishlist are on my TBR apart from the Keen. I tried to read one of her books yonks ago and didn’t get on with it and I’ve not been much inclined to try her other stuff. Perhaps I am being unfair.

    Re: Mary Wollstonecraft, I have visited her grave, which is in St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth. I believe she had originally been buried in the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church, near Kings Cross. Not sure of the reason for the move. I need to look it up!


    • You have reminded me that I meant to ring my bookshop in Perth yesterday and order Wintering. I’ll do it (later) today and hopefully my review will give you a better idea.

      I don’t do graves but doesn’t Bournemouth imply a demotion for Wollstonecraft. Perhaps feminists should unite to get her a memorial somewhere more central. In Perth and no doubt elsewhere there is a movement to get more statues of women.


  5. Yay Murakami – one of my favourite books on running and I’ve read it three times, including once each before my first two marathons!

    Thank you for highlighting these new Australian reads. I’m really bad at reading new stuff, apart from the things I get from NetGalley (I’m working on a review for them at the moment: everyone else seems to have liked the author, I need to get the word “insufferable” in there …


    • I hadn’t thought of books about running being a category, though I now bring to mind ‘Loneliness of …’ I guess there are more. I’m preparing a review, slowly, so I can think about my much briefer experience as a marathon swimmer. I can see why as a runner you would keep going back to it. (I think if I ever reviewed Clive James “insufferable” would be worn out by the end of it).

      Liked by 1 person

      • If you page back through my blog you’ll find books about running is definitely a HUGE genre though his was one of the first. There are some great ones out there, though. And yes, with marathons you either do one then often actually stop running altogether, or you get hooked. I’ll be doing my fourth (third official; I missed one race so did the distance around the city here!) at the end of this month. And it’s not like I’m “good” at them, just love them!


      • Sounds like you’re hooked Liz. I have a couple of cousins – one London based- who seem to run marathons around the world non-stop. I’m happy to participate vicariously via Facebook

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I tried to read William Burroughs’s Junky and gave up when my brain couldn’t follow. Perhaps it was Naked Lunch I encountered…..either way, his stream-of-conscious style isn’t up my alley, but I know many lovers of his work! There is an author out of Chicago named Davis Schneiderman who loves and studied/studies Burroughs and wrote a novel in that same style. It’s called Drain. If you like Burroughs, it would be your cup of tea.

    Thanks for including my recommended book on this list! I wonder if Virginia hillbillies are anything like Australian hillbillies….and if you guys even have hillbillies. You must; they’re ubiquitous.


    • I’ve met hillbillies, there are a few families in every country town that fit the bill. I guess the big difference is that Prohibition gave certain mountain areas in the US a separateness and a lawlessness that is absent in Australia.
      I dipped into Junky and it looks great but I’ve decided to review one of the others first.


  7. I am not a runner (& never will be) but I loved Murakami’s running book. I guess it was a case of one introvert responding to another.

    I’m going to throw Flames by Robbie Arnott onto your list of possibilities –
    I appreciated Boy, struggled with Shell & have Axiomatic on my tbr. I really must read more Murnane though – The Plains still haunts me.

    And I think Mary’s grave was moved when the original one was excavated to make way for St Pancreas station.


    • Thanks for reading and commenting, I just wanted you to see that I thought your Wollstonecraft post was important.

      I was going to write everyone should read more Murnane,but it’s not true. Read what you like! However, I will definitely be reading more – A Season on Earth is damn big.

      I think if I was Mary I would rather have stayed at St Pancreas, I like trains, much more interesting than a boring churchyard.

      Liked by 1 person

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