Bookseller Martin Shaw asked Australian writers what they are excited about reading in 2012. Today, we hear from Wayne Macauley, Angela Meyer, Pip Newling, Favel Parrett, A S Patric and Laurie Steed. This is the second part of this series. For Part I, click here.
Locally, I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Gerald Murnane, A History of Books (Giramondo, June). Elsewhere, I am looking forward to new works by two writers I’ve only recently started reading: Roberto Bolaño’s The Secret of Evil and László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango (April, March – both through New Directions).
I believe Susan Orlean‘s biography of the movie dog Rin Tin Tin comes out here in March (Atlantic), and I saw on Twitter that she’ll be gracing our shores this year. I haven’t read Orlean’s work yet, but I love movies and I love dogs, so I’m looking forward to this one.
I’m a fan of Paddy O’Reilly‘s short story collection The End of the World and her new novel The Fine Colour of Rust is due out in March (HarperCollins). She’s releasing it under the name PA O’Reilly, as it departs a little from her more ‘literary’ writings, and I’m very curious about that. It’s about a single mother, a dreamer with a big heart, living in the bush and sticking up for what she believes in.
I enjoyed Simon Cleary‘s elegant first novel, The Comfort of Figs, and was happy to learn of his new book Closer to Stone (March, UQP). It’s set in the early 1990s in northern Africa and then later in the US, and is about a sculptor searching for his missing brother. It sounds like a character story with a complex backdrop of religion and politics. Cleary himself hitch-hiked through the Sahara 20 years ago.
I’ve been following Ruby Murray‘s writings for years, including her blog when she was living in Indonesia. Her novel set in Jakarta, Running Dogs, is due out with Scribe in May. She’s an incredible writer and I’m very excited to read this. From her website: ‘Set in a global city where poverty, corruption and extreme wealth sit side by side, this is a novel about power and responsibility, about the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive, and the damage they can do.’
Edmund White’s Jack Holmes and His Friend (Bloomsbury): I have loved White’s prose since discovering A Boy’s Own Story years ago and then devotedly carrying The Flâneur around Paris the last couple of times I have been there. White has the capacity to turn the everyday into a wild beating heart of resonance with simplicity and elegance, and his latest novel is nothing less than brilliant in its intimacy and insight.
Sulari Gentill’s third crime novel Miles Off Course (Pantera Press) is the next instalment in the Rowland Sinclair series. How could you go wrong with a story that begins in 1933 with cocktails on the balcony of the Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath, in the NSW Blue Mountains? Gentill knows exactly the type of story she is telling and, supported with terrific research and a scattering of real events and people, she never puts a foot wrong.
I’m also looking forward to M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans (Vintage, April), her debut novel. Usually I baulk at books that are sold for huge amounts and garner praise long before they hit the shelves but for some reason this one feels different. Set in Western Australia in the 1920s, it centres on a decision a lighthouse keeper and his wife make that has dire results. Stedman, born in WA, has proven herself a terrific short story writer and The Light Between Oceans will be one of my highlights for the year.
Volt is a short story collection by American writer Alan Heathcock (Graywolf, March). I came across it in the ‘best of’ lists from the US just before Christmas and added it to my Christmas list. It is a stunning collection of contemporary American gothic executed with rare lyricism and compassion. Perhaps 2012 will deliver this extraordinary collection to the shores of Australia.
I have heard so many great things about Paddy O’Reilly’s novel The Fine Colour of Rust (HarperCollins, March). People have told me that it is full of heart and made them laugh. Sounds wonderful.
There are a couple of short story anthologies by fantastic Australian writers coming out later this year from UQP. First up is Josephine Rowe’s collection called Tarcutta Wake (August), and later in the year the yet-to-be-titled collection by Chris Somerville. I have enjoyed reading stories from both of these writers for years and think they are two of our best.
I can’t wait to see Johan Harstad at the Perth Writers’ Festival. Last week I picked up his novel Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? (UWA Press) and I can’t stop thinking about it. Looking forward to hearing more from him.
A S Patric
Vicky Swanky is a Beauty by Diane Williams (Transit Lounge, July; McSweeney’s, January) presents a collection of flash fiction that explodes our conception of narrative possibility. The detonation is felt at the core of our literary experience. Which is to say, Williams changes the way we read. I’m not suggesting this is always pleasant, but if you’re looking for the edge of the envelope, you’ll find a tear in the scorched shape of Vicky Swanky is a Beauty.
Ryan O’Neill is the foremost writer of experimental prose in Australia. ‘Experimental’ is often synonymous with self-indulgent, laborious, convoluted, pretentious or cerebral prose. O’Neill’s collection of stories, The Weight of a Human Heart (Black Inc., May) showcases all the qualities we prefer to see in literary experimentation: playfulness, humour, exuberance and regular displays of genius.
Etgar Keret’s latest collection, Suddenly a Knock on the Door (Vintage), shows the kind of mastery displayed in his groundbreaking collection The Girl on the Fridge. Comedy that cuts through the bone and a rampant imagination so far outside the box Houdini would have wept. Keret is free in ways most writers can only dream about and his new collection will prove once more that he’s a true virtuoso of the short form.
The Weight of a Human Heart, Ryan O’Neill (Black Inc., May): Ryan O’Neill is an innovator, an inquisitor and a particularly funny writer. He’s also willing to push the short story form to exciting and surprising places, all the while charting the inner landscapes of distressingly recognisable folk. In a word, groundbreaking.
Running Dogs, Ruby Muray (Scribe, May): Murray’s fiction has thus far been impeccably detailed, with a lyrical take on all subjects, from trauma to tragedy and all ports in between. In Running Dogs, she takes us to Jakarta, and an Australian aid worker’s journey through both personal and political legacy. Rest assured, you’ll be in good hands here.
The Fine Colour of Rust, Paddy O’Reilly (HarperCollins, March): This book charts the journey of single mother and dreamer Loretta Boskovic, who lives in Gunapan, a town lost in the scrubby Australian bush. Truth be told I’d probably read Paddy O’Reilly’s take on the White Pages, such is her talent as a writer, but given that she’s written a new novel, I’ll happily read that instead.
Martin Shaw is Books Division Manager of Readings, and an editorial advisor at Kill Your Darlings.