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The Last Werewolf

Just a quick note to say I’ve got a number of reviews in publications that are just hitting the newstands.

The first is of Glen Duncan’s slick, sexy reworking of late-capitalist lycanthropy, The Last Werewolf, which you’ll find in today’s Weekend Australian. I’ve long thought Duncan was a writer who deserved a wider audience, and I suspect The Last Werewolf may be the book to do that for him: certainly he brings a panache and intelligence to the material which lends it real distinction.

Meanwhile in the land of Fairfax I’ve got a review of wunderkind-of-the-week Téa Orbreht’s debut, The Tiger’s Wife in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald (it’s not online yet, but if it doesn’t turn up by Monday I’ll post it on my Writing page). If you haven’t heard of Obreht yet I’m sure you will soon (if you’re in Australia she’s actually a guest at Sydney Writers’ Festival, the program for which was released on Thursday). Whether The Tiger’s Wife lives up to the hype seems to me to be an open question. It’s good, and Orbreht is enormously poised and polished for her age, but it’s also less innovative than the buzz makes it out to be, owing quite a lot to both the magical realists of the 1980s and more contemporary fantasy and horror writers such as Kelly Link, Margo Lanagan and Neil Gaiman (it’s actually rather interesting to speculate which of the two traditions she’s drawing upon).

As well as the Duncan and Obreht reviews I’ve got a long piece about Annie Proulx’s Bird Cloud in the April Australian Book Review. It’s not online either, which would be a pity except that it gives me an opportunity to mention that ABR have just launched their new online edition, which not only allows subscribers to choose between digital and print subscriptions, but also grants access to ABR’s extensive backlist and other, online-only features. It’s a pretty amazing resource and very worth checking out.

And finally I’d be remiss if I didn’t direct you to Rjurik Davidson’s excellent essay about New Wave SF in the most recent Overland, which I read about ten minutes after publishing my last post. Davidson is of course the author of the justly-praised short story collection The Library of Forgotten Books but he’s also an astute and talented critic, and even if you’re not familiar with the writers lumped together under the somewhat misleading term who make up SF’s “New Wave”, it’s well worth a read (not least because the new China Mieville, Embassytown, is in many ways an extended homage to Silverberg and Aldiss).

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Over at The Interminable Rantings of Mr Wu, Rjurik Davidson has posted a follow-up piece about the definition of the New Wave which is well worth a look:

    I’ve also altered the wording of the original post slightly because it was a bit sloppy and suggested I disagreed with Rjurik’s definition of the New Wave, which I don’t.

    April 3, 2011
  2. Michael Whitting #

    Dear James

    I enjoyed the review of ‘Bird CLoud’. I notice that you didn’t make much of Chr 10, which I thought was very well-written.

    I agree that the book is stitched together from various styles and themes, probably because of the need to counter mounting debts.

    She put the house up for sale soon after it was finished, so I’m told. The asking price was $3.75 million. Apparently it’s now sold.

    Loved the ‘Racing In The Street’ clip too. The song is about so much more, but that’s Bruce.

    April 16, 2011
  3. Re The Last Werewolf, there’s an interesting interview with Duncan here which suggests that he wrote the book as a deliberate attempt to, as you say, find a wider audience.

    Me: If I write another literary novel, do you think you’ll be able to sell it?
    Agent: No.

    April 19, 2011
  4. That’s very interesting – thank you.

    April 19, 2011

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