DM Cornish

Around the age of fifteen or sixteen, when a boy has read sufficient science fiction or fantasy to aspire to create his own literary cosmos, he begins a monster story.

Why boys choose a variation on the name ‘Jabberwock’ for the monster and why the creature’s nature should be ambiguous rather than out-and-out evil is a question I’ve never resolved.*

An archetype is obviously involved. However, this does not explain why, of the seven basic plots identified by Christopher Booker, the choice consistently falls on ‘overcoming the monster.’ Nor why the name remains constant.

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Julia Caroline Gollasch
VMI Publishers

Unlike many people I know, I consider allegory and fantasy to be different—cousins but not twins. I love a good fantasy but I cordially dislike allegory. So, consider this fair warning!

I don’t understand why some people like The Pilgrim’s Progress so passionately. It’s too serious, too plainly didactic. It’s like an undressed parable. It’s been stripped of the cloak of mystery that a parable wraps around itself, it’s been shorn of subtlety and generally misses both humour and irony. Perhaps that’s an unfair assessment. But that’s the way it comes across to me.

Fantasy can also be very earnest in tone but in general, it has the shifting light and shadow of a fairytale. The kindly woman by the wayside may turn out to be a witch or a warrior. In allegory, such uncertainty is rare. One thing you can be sure of: both Faithful and Giant Despair will live up to their names.

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Scott Monk
Random House Australia

‘A mystery is a dull question if there’s not plenty of confusion first.’

A random act of kindness propels Michael, a considerate country boy, into an otherworldly adventure. Tormented at his new city school by the vicious Thornleigh sisters and caught in the middle at home between his siblings, Michael’s life undergoes a strange metamorphosis when he gives a dollar to a homeless man.

He meets the man again in a curious old shop while looking for a fancy dress costume and, realising the man is the proprietor, begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Quite an accurate assessment as it turns out when he is chased, along with his brother and sister, from the party they’re attending. As they escape the Thornleighs and other assorted bullies, they discover the Knock-Knock Door—a gorgeously-ornamented gateway that opens only when given the answers to knock-knock jokes and obscure riddles.

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Anne Bartlett
Penguin Books

To read Knitting is to be caught up in a weaving of words as cloud-soft as angora, as shimmering as silk, as tingling as mohair.

After her husband’s death, Sandra finds herself in a skin-tight prison of glass, unable to grieve. Reminded of her own desperation during her husband’s last illness by the fleeting look of a woman kneeling over an unconscious body on the street, she is drawn into the lives of Martha and Cliff.

Martha is rosedown warmth to Sandra’s brittleglass cold. A gifted knitter, she inspires Sandra to invite her to collaborate in a textile exhibition. But Martha’s generosity and her fragile hold on sanity, coupled with the escalating scale of Sandra’s ambition, begin the unravelling of their blossoming friendship.

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An Open Swimmer

Tim Winton

Jerra’s family want him to make something of himself. A girl and a job would be a good start.

But Jerra is tormented by secret memories – thoughts that beach themselves like broken shells caught in the tide wrack of an uneasy sexual awakening and a sense that he has betrayed those he loves.

On a bleak southern shoreline in Western Australia, Jerra meets an old codger whose conscience is as tortured as his own. Unable to confess or forgive, they find an ancient law/hope hovering in their mutilated lives: a single witness shall not stand

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