Real Review in Killings

Some of you have enjoyed my mock review of Kill Your Darlings. Some of you are also probably wondering if I can actually write a serious review. I wonder too sometimes, especially since I haven’t reviewed anything since said mock review. But I can critique if I put my mind to it and I can prove it too. Estelle Tang asked me to write a review for Kill Your Darlings’ Killings blog, so I wrote one for Narrelle M. Harris’ The Opposite of Life. Check it out here.

April 12: What’s happening, Melbourne?

According to my personal assistant, Facebook, there’s a poetry gig going down at Readings Carlton 6.30pm tonight. It’s free and it’s featuring Jodie Albiston, Jennifer Harrison, and Josephine Rowe.

The launch for Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing # 1 will also be held at Readings Carlton. Miscellaneous Voices # 1 showcases writing from writer bloggers such as Angela Meyer,  Lisa Dempster, and A.S. Patric. Things start happening at 6pm on Wednesday, 14 March.

Storytelling @ Dog’s Bar is now free and we like free things. We also like the starving artist’s specials in the restaurant next door. The likes of Angela Meyer (Literary Minded) and George Dunford (Lonely Planet) will be in the comfy armchair this Thursday, so have your $16 meal+wine and listen to some quality rambling.

The leather armchair at Dog's Bar (courtesy of Storytelling).

For all of those people who prefer swimming to jogging, drinking to eating, and drowning to spontaneous combustion, Waterproof’s performers will be splashing about in the Melbourne City Baths, starting Friday 16 March. Prose is by Read You Bastards’ Bastard Simon McInerney, aka ‘that guy who reads about murderers disposing body parts in Williamstown and the Maribynong River’, so it should be dark, fascinating stuff.

And, for those in a monogamous relationship with their computers and aren’t allowed to see other people, Elena Gomez has reviewed Issue One of Kill Your Darlings. It’s interesting comparing other people’s reviews with mine. Ditto in regards to Gideon Haigh, girl!

Gideon Haigh debate

Is Australian reviewing just ‘lacklustre infomerciality’? Or does it actually have guts? For those of you who have been following the debate surrounding Gideon Haigh’s Kill Your Darlings article about Australia’s reviewing culture, there’s a discussion with Clem Bastow and Anthony Morris happening tonight at Readings Carlton. Starts 6.30pm. Email jocase@optusnet.com.au for free bookings.

(Mock) Review: Kill Your Darlings Issue One

Far easier to summarise the contents, recapitulate the blurb, describe the author’s reputation, or examine the author’s politics in a thinly veiled op-ed—is he or she ‘one of us’? After all, the author might be reviewing us one day, or perhaps already has. In which case, it may, of course, be payback time. (Gideon Haigh in ‘Feeding the Hand that Bites’)

1) Summarise the contents

Kill Your Darlings, the First, is a collection of non-fiction, fiction, reviews, and one lengthy interview. The non-fiction ranges from the opinionated ‘Feeding the Hand that Bites’ from Gideon Haigh, to introspectives from Tracy Crisp and Paul Mitchell, and wit from Justin Heazlewood and Clementine Ford. Georgia Gowing’s ‘Talk Derby to Me’, a romp around the roller derby circuit, is the most informative of the pieces on offering, but what the others lack in encyclopaedic content, they make up for sass.

Some of the reviews are microscopic, some are not (like Anthony Morris’ dedication to The Wire), there’s a Ricky Lee cartoon from Oslo Davis, and the interview with Sarah Waters examines the historical genre as well as the usual writing process.

Fiction is honed to a dark edge, which is unsurprising for a literary journal titled ‘Kill Your Darlings’. ‘Theories of Relativity’ is particularly commendable. It rocks. It’s awesome. Yeah. I have never watched an episode of Beavis and Butthead, so I am going to stop here.

2) Recapitulate the blurb

Um. There’s an inkblot. And a whole bunch of names like Gideon Haigh, Emmett Stinson, Kalinda Ashton, Chris Flynn…

Apparently such names speak for themselves, though, to be fair, I believe name-dropping is commonly practised by literary journals.

3) Describe the author’s reputation

Why bother when you can quote author bios? i.e. ‘Patrick Cullen’s book, What Came Between, includes five stories published in The Best Australian Stories between 2005 and 2007.’ Bios are much more fun to regurgitate, especially when they reveal quirky phobias or the number of pets the author has.

In truth, I was disappointed by Kill Your Darlings’ selection of author bios. Apart from Clementine Ford’s ‘writes from the comfort of her bedroom while daydreaming of bearded men’, they had the creativity of a stapler. This must be rectified!

4) Examine the author’s (editors’) politics. Is he or she ‘one of us’?

Do I know any of these editors? Not really. That was obvious when I turned up at the launch, and found myself pressed against a whole lot of bodies I didn’t have names for.

If I write a really nice review, will they publish my work? Most likely…not.

Why am I writing this review? To make me read another lit journal. (And it worked, didn’t it?)

The Kill Your Darlings 'blurb'