Steep Stairs Review Volume 6

December 16, 2011

When I start to read a new collection of essays or reviews, I prefer the introduction to be both informative and as brief as possible, to allow me to get started on the more interesting reading. But just let me say that putting together this latest volume of Steep Stairs Review has been a sincere pleasure. No reader of these excellent reviews should be left in doubt that literature, arts and culture are still vital and relevant aspects of contemporary society, or that current events in Australia and around the world cannot be illuminated and understood in very different ways, by considering them through the varied prisms of art, history, activism and the observant eyes of novelists and critics. There is a mix of classic and popular, longer and shorter, critical and praising opinions – something, indeed, for everyone’s tastes – and just in time for Christmas!


Anthony Horowitz, The House of Silk, (Michael Todd)
Review of an intriguing new novel by acclaimed screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, The House of Silk, based on a continuation of Conan Doyle’s Holmes’ mysteries.
McKenzie Wark,The Beach Beneath the Street, (Gary Pearce)  
McKenzie Wark’s exploration of the enduring cultural legacies of the Situationist International movement, including contemporary protest movements.
Rosalie Ham, There Should Be More Dancing, (Michael Heald) 
This book is a work of “deep humanness” … “an accomplishment of the soul” – in a novel which goes to the extraordinary heart of seemingly ordinary people.
 Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life, (Glen Jennings) 
The most recent ‘bicentenary’ biography of Charles Dickens by Tomalin presents some alternative readings of Dickens’ life and loves – some of which are engaging, and some which detract from a clearer evaluation of Dickens’ work.
Isobelle Carmody, The Obernewtyn Chronicles, (Katherine Firth) 
A reflection on the contribution to the Australian imagination of the long-running young adult series. The penultimate volume, The Sending, has just been published, with the final volume The Red Queen due in 2012.
Anonymous. “A Film for our Time? (but not in a good way). Gayle Allan
A candid evaluation of the film Anonymous. “Was Shakespeare a Fraud?” Why do we need to keep asking, and who’s raking in the profits? “It tells an exciting story and, if we didn’t know better (and we most certainly do), it could be plausible.”
 Stephen Kelman, Pigeon English (A.G. Craig)
The life of Harri Opuku, a Ghanian immigrant in poor urban London, is brought to life through the exploration of learning a new language: “Who’d chook a boy just to get his Chicken Joe’s?” Indeed!
Danny Fahey, The Tree Singer (Neralie Hoadley) 
Healing and personal meaning are among the many lyrical strains in this lovely fantasy novel.
Jeff Martin & C. Max Magee, The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books (Jennifer Mitchell)
 The challenges and the gifts of reading and writing in new ways.
Paul French, Midnight in Peking, (Glen Jennings) “Reopening the Case: A Chinese Murder,”
This book which explores in graphic detail the brutal murder of young Englishwoman Pamela Werner, in Peking in 1937. French looks closely at the precarious lives of foreigners and locals in the last heady and violent days of Old China.
 Elizabeth Taylor, A View of the Harbour (Rosalie Ham)
In what will hopefully be a regular section in Steep Stairs Review, Rosalie Ham looks back at a classic novel from the past.

Thanks for reading – Enjoy!


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