a magical tale?

Long before Australia was discovered by Europeans, it was imagined in the hearts and souls and minds of rulers, explorers and romantics on the other side of the world. Martin Edmond is a modern day romantic who embarked on a journey to discover the mystery around Luca Antara, now known as Australia. This is not a standard historical text, nor strictly a memoir. Edmond has written a magical tale about himself and his obsession with the past ....

Mary Philip in the Brisbane Courier Mail, 16.12.06


beautiful lie or elaborate joke?

This seems like an altogether more reasonable - and generous - account of what the book is, and is about. Apropos the SMH review, my publisher wrote yesterday and said: The best books generate a range of responses. Have no idea if this is true or not but it was sweet of her to say so. As to the question, it's perhaps a case of both/and not either/or.



My agent told me on the phone this morning that there's another Luca review in the Australian Book Review. It's not available online & so haven't read it yet. But Fran said it describes the writing as 'impeccable'. This goes someway towards mollifying my outrage at the SMH's 'pedestrian' slur, even though I've always been a walker & believe, in fact, that prose writing at its best does have a peripatetic dimension. Or should that be ambulatory? Anyway ... I've been extremely well treated by NZ reviewers in recent years so perhaps the violence of my reaction to a bad review is partly due to a false sense of entitlement? Don't know. Interesting that the ABR also reviewed Luca as a work of fiction. Which, I repeat, though some of it is 'made up', in totality, it isn't. If that makes any sense.

PS Actually the word she uses is flawless as in flawlessly written. And closes with the adjectives beautiful and overwhelming although this second is not meant in an absolutely complimentary way but rather to suggest that there's just too much in the book. That's okay - I can live with that.


Stopped buying & reading the Sydney Morning Herald on a regular basis about a month ago because I was sick of their increasingly shallow & sensational approach to news & current affairs. Switched to The Australian which, while deeply conservative in many respects, does give a wider & less parochial consideration both to what is happening & what it might mean. So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the miserable review of Luca Antara the SMH published this weekend. Must be a piece of attempted cleverness on someone's part to have it reviewed as a work of fiction, which it isn't, & this smart-arsedness is echoed in the review itself, which says, on the one hand, that the book exorcises the spectre of fiction and on the other that Luca Antara is yet to be written - huh? I think what the guy is saying is that I wrote a book like this because I wasn't able to write a novel. Echoing, it's true, something I - or 'the narrator' - also says at one point. The earnest often fail to recognise irony & thereby take seriously what is meant in jest, in the same way that the mean-spirited sometimes resent generosity in others. Everyone who writes knows that there is a shadow side to their work, a possible view or assessment of it that condemns it as negligible or nugatory; just as there is an alternative view that overstates its claims or reckons all that is attempted, achieved. Guess you hope reviewers see both possibilities & negotiate some kind of accord between them. What you don't ever want to read is a response that seems to arise out of anger or dismay at your temerity in writing the book at all. Unfortunately, that's what seems to have happened here. It's galling, particularly since the review focuses on formal matters, which aren't of particular interest to me, at the expense of content, which is, but what can you do? Something about the fiction of non-fiction was perhaps always going to end up in the Herald's too hard basket.


cherchez la femme

One of my neighbours the other day told me she saw a woman on a train reading Luca Antara - & she was a long way into it. A local Summer Hiller perhaps? Someone who was at the launch? Or - tantalising thought - a complete stranger? Guess I'll never know ...