Showing posts from July, 2019

Heart of the Grass Tree

Molly Murn’s Heart of the Grass Tree (2018) is a complex story and one that reveals her courage and ambition. In writing this, I know that certain readers will remember Sir Humphrey Appleby’s particular use of the word ‘courageous’ in Yes Minister to suggest something brave but politically risky. Murn’s novel is courageous in the more profound sense that she takes the reader into the ‘heart of the grass tree’ – and that heart means confronting historical injustices for the indigenous Ngarrindjeri people.
Murn obviously cares deeply about her subject matter; her approach demonstrates sensitivity, balancing scholarship with seeking permission from individual Ngarrindjeri people. This she outlines in the ‘Author’s Note’. The sensitivity is evident also in her narrative  structure. By including a contemporary story – a young woman grieving for her recently departed grandmother – the reader is introduced into the universal idea of ‘story’ and ‘place’ through the special memories Pearl has …

White Noise

It is hard to call yourself a Don Delillo fan when he has published 15+ novels and all you have read is Endzone (see earlier review), White Noise, and the short story collection The Angel Esmeralda. Still, I’m a fan. White Noise is a novel I’d heard about and perhaps wondered about for a long time. It was published in 1984, in the midst of the 1980s escalation of the Cold War and it has everything you would expect from a great novelist. A clever setup – Jack Gladney, lecturer in Hitler studies no less, is a man with a certain nervousness around his family and a insecurity complex coming in part from his lack of familiarity with the German language.  Then the catalyst for change: a chemical cloud, an ‘airborne toxic event’ which hovers gigantic nearby and causes the evacuation of the university town where Jack lives, like a radiation cloud gone astray from its nuclear referent. Around this event the novel circulates, crackles even, with brilliance, particularly in dialogue. Here’s just …