’70s-style dystopia: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

This Perfect Day is a dystopian sci-fi novel, published in 1970, in the vein of Brave New World and Logan’s Run. People are born into a happy (read: bland) unified society, ruled by UniComp, which is literally a giant computer. Over the generations heterogeneity has been genetically blended out, and every member of ‘The Family’ … Continue reading ’70s-style dystopia: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

Between worlds: Dominic Smith on Bright and Distant Shores

  Allen & Unwin, 9781742374161, 2011 (Aus paperback, ebook + US/Kindle) Bright and Distant Shores is hugely imaginative historical fiction. It’s set just before the dawn of the 20th century in Chicago and the South Pacific. Owen Graves is sent by Hale Gray, the president of Chicago First Equitable, to collect some ‘special items’ to … Continue reading Between worlds: Dominic Smith on Bright and Distant Shores

The epic qualities of outwardly ordinary lives: By Nightfall and Michael Cunningham in Australia

By Nightfall, Michael Cunningham, HarperCollins (Aus pb, Aus ebook, US and Kindle, UK) Over the past few days I’ve been in the audience of four sessions featuring my favourite American author Michael Cunningham. Cunningham’s latest novel is By Nightfall. I've drafted a few posts on it since I read it, but was never able to adequately … Continue reading The epic qualities of outwardly ordinary lives: By Nightfall and Michael Cunningham in Australia

Guest review: Alice Grundy on Mr Peanut by Adam Ross

Vintage, 9780099535379 (Aus, UK, US) Reviewed by Alice Grundy The cover of Adam Ross’ first novel, Mr Peanut, is swathed in praise from no lesser lights than Stephen King and Michiko Kakutani. The title page features a reproduction of Escher’s ‘Mobius’ flagging the role of the double in the plot. All the signs point towards … Continue reading Guest review: Alice Grundy on Mr Peanut by Adam Ross

Guest review: Matthia Dempsey on What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg

Scribe Publications, February 2011 (Aus, US, UK) 9781921640896 Reviewed by Matthia Dempsey Laura van den Berg has particular skill in capturing the strangeness that can come at times—the sense of being a stranger to your own life and the world. For many of the women in her stories this feeling is the result of a … Continue reading Guest review: Matthia Dempsey on What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg

20 classics in 2011 #2: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

I’m reading 20 classic, modern-classic or cult books in 2011. Read more about this project here. ‘A great many people give me the impression of never having for a moment felt anything’ – Isabel Archer, The Portrait of a Lady. Why did I want to read it? Well, first of all, Henry James is one of the ‘great’ novelists … Continue reading 20 classics in 2011 #2: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Cult carny lit: Katherine Dunn's Geek Love

Vintage, 1989 9780375713347 (2002 edn) (Also Aus, US, UK) Miss Olympia is an emotional, hunchbacked albino dwarf, and the complex narrator of this wonderful novel. In the present, Oly secretly watches over the remaining members of her carnival-of-freaks family: her daughter, Miranda, and her mother, Crystal Lil. Why her observance and care is secretive is revealed through … Continue reading Cult carny lit: Katherine Dunn's Geek Love