Things To Look Forward To 

David Gaunt has owned Gleebooks with partner Roger Mackell since 1976.

November 2017

 - Wednesday, November 01, 2017
It’s a great Christmas for Australian fiction with a swag of terrific new novels, some of which we’ve already reviewed. There’s no question that the genius for reinvention is alive and thriving in the new books of Michelle de Kretser, Peter Carey and Richard Flanagan, but I’d like to pay some attention to something I’d overlooked.

You have to dip your lid to Literary Award judges (thankless job, really). This year’s Miles Franklin was bound to be awarded to an author without a high profile, once the short list was known. But the winning book, Josephine Wilson’s  Extinctions is a cracker. And more than that, suddenly a book which had barely sold a copy is a best seller as the judges’ choice is validated by readers’ opinions. I’m glad to have discovered it. It’s full of the darkest of our preoccupations (the despairs of ageing and loss, environmental degradation, aboriginal identity in an age of dispossession, and family conflict—to name a few), but Wilson is a deft and assured storyteller, and the novel’s not without redemptive elements or characters, and she brings a wry and sympathetic intelligence to a very well-written story.

I’ve had a week off and a chance to return to Flanagan’s First Person. It’s great. I’d imagine, given its subject matter, that readers would always see The Narrow Road to the Deep North as his most important book, and rightly so. But this is brilliantly written, engrossing and haunting and engaged in the writer’s own experience in ways that are light and profound at once.

And for a holiday indulgence I’ve got to give a plug to a lovely package of Helen Garner which Text are publishing to celebrate her 75th birthday: companion hardcover volumes of Collected Shorter Fiction and Short Nonfiction. Terrific value at $50.00 the pair, and be captivated again by the range & depth of her writing across nearly fifty years. Treat yourself. Season’s Best, David Gaunt