Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Sense of an Ending (Book Review)

The Booker Prize has always enjoyed controversy and acclaim, making it the most (in)famous modern prize in British literature.  People bet heavily on the results and the analysis of the shortlist (‘Why wasn’t insert any author’s name here on it?’) generates endless discussion in newspapers and online. This year, a group of authors has even vowed to set up a rival prize to the Booker in 2012, so that the ‘best’ literary novel of the year really will win.

The winner in 2011 turned out to be Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending. It’s almost a novella, a slim book of 150 pages, the second-shortest novel to win the Booker Prize.  And it’s terrific. Continue reading

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Books of the Year 2011

Most national newspapers publish a ‘Books of the Year’ in December, and The Australian is no exception. This year journalist Stephen Romel produced a fabulous list of reading from people like J.M. Coetzee, Peter Carey and Janette Turner Hospital (Weekend Australian Review, Dec 17 / 18). What intrigued me was the overlap between these recommendations and those of my colleagues and friends.  Continue reading

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Benjamin Black (Book Review)

Benjamin Black is the pseudonym chosen by acclaimed Irish author, John Banville. When Banville is not working on his powerful and highly-regarded literary novels – The Sea won the Booker Prize in 2005 – he writes a series of crime novels set in 1950s Dublin, with the detective’s role taken by a character named Quirke. The latest novel, Death in Summer (Holt, 2011) is the fourth in the series that began in 2006 with the memorable Christine Falls.

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Writers on campus

The sheer variety of published writers we have on campus is amazing: check out Professor Derek Abbott’s clever and humorous Wickedictionary (his book launch is being held in the Reading Room on Wednesday evening this week.)  Then there’s  Bule Juga Manusia (adventures of a crazy tourist in Indonesia), a book and a blog written by Graduate Diploma (Education) student, Richard Miles (warning: unless you speak Indonesian, you’ll need Google  Translator to read his blog!) And in complete contrast, Amy Matthew’s powerful debut novel, End  of the Night Girl, set in Adelaide but dealing with the horrors of the Holocaust.  Amy will be a guest of the WPDN Book Club here on campus later this year.

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Who was Shakespeare?

The recent blockbuster film,  Anonymous, favours the “Shakespeare was really Edward de Vere” conspiracy theory, an idea that was originally proposed by an English schoolmaster with the wonderful name of  Thomas Looney. Scholars, critics and people living in Stratford are less than impressed with this. So who is right? For a clear, cogent and entertaining summary of the various arguments , see Joe Nickell’s article in the latest issue of The Skeptical Inquirer (Nov /Dec 2011) ; for a detailed analysis, read the excellent book Contested Will. (And where do I stand on this? Let me put it this way: I find the anti-Stratfordian theories about as convincing as The Da Vinci Code…)

For more about Shakespeare, check the library’s valuable  print and electronic resources, or catch up with a living source of knowledge on  Shakespeare.

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eBook, iBook or print?

‘Where do you like to read?’ is a question that used to be answered with responses like ‘in bed’ or ‘on the bus’. Now publishers are more interested in our reading habits in terms of online or offline, print or electronic. I still read novels in print, but have friends who swear by their Kindle or their iPad.  What do you do?

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The Slap

Have you read or watched The Slap, said to be ‘one of the most provocative, controversial and talked about’ series on Australian television this year? The novel, by Chris Tsiolkas, has won several awards. What do you think of it?

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