Chris Somerville

Chris works for the online team. He is the author of a short-story collection, We Are Not The Same Anymore.

Reviews

From the Wreck by Jane Rawson

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

While there’s certainly no drought of Australian historical fiction, it’s probably fair to say that no-one else has tackled the genre in quite the same way as Jane Rawson. From the Wreck opens with a…

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Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

Since the publication of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline in 1996, George Saunders has produced an incredible body of work, the majority of which are short stories, though there’s also a novella, a childr…

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The Nix by Nathan Hill

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

While Nathan Hill’s debut novel The Nix is certainly ambitious, given that it contains the Chicago riots of 1968, the invasion of Iraq, the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as online gamin…

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Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

The latest book from Teju Cole is a collection of essays, put out over a number of years, from various magazines and loosely arranged into three categories: reading, seeing and travel. While it would…

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Barkskins by Annie Proulx

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

Since the publication of Annie Proulx’s last book, almost a decade ago, details have filtered through that she was working on an epic about the wood trade in the late 1600s. The appearance of an exce…

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One by Patrick Holland

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

Patrick Holland’s latest novel, One, charts the final days of the Keniff brothers, James and Patrick, Australia’s last bushrangers, and their antagonist Sergeant Nixon, a man obsessed by bringing the…

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How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

Midway through Jesse Ball’s novel How to Set a Fire and Why, the narrator, a fifteen-year-old girl called Lucia Stanton, takes a series of tests to see if she can be accepted into a prestigious schoo…

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See You at Breakfast by Guillermo Fadanelli

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

Guillermo Fadanelli’s short novel, See You At Breakfast? was originally published in Spanish, in 1999, and has now been released locally by Sydney publishing house Giramondo. Set in Mexico City, it f…

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The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

In Vendela Vida’s latest novel, the unnamed protagonist leaves her life in Florida and arrives in Morocco. Almost immediately she begins to wonder if every move she’s making is the wrong one; not onl…

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An Astronaut’s Life by Sonja Dechian

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

The settings in An Astronaut’s Life, Sonja Dechian’s debut collection of short stories, are planted both within the familiar and outlandish. The opener ‘After Francis Crick’ works not only as a story…

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Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

The stories in Tegan Bennett Daylight’s Six Bedrooms, her fourth book, are mostly focused on the highs and lows of teendom, and the awkwardness from this that never really leaves us. The setups are o…

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Find Me by Laura Van den Berg

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

Laura van den Berg’s first two books, the short-story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and Isle of Youth, established her as an incredibly inventive writer with …

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The Ash Burner by Kári Gíslason

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

The Ash Burner is Kári Gíslason’s first novel. Midway through the book, a character, on the eve of his departure from his hometown, insists that his best friend Ted write him letters. ‘He thought you…

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The First Bad Man by Miranda July

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

Miranda July’s first book, No One Belongs Here More Than You, was a collection of short stories that, while not linked in the traditional ways through character or plot, was bound into a cohesive who…

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Let Me be Frank with You by Richard Ford

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

One of Richard Ford’s greatest gifts to modern literature is Frank Bascombe. Frank’s dryly humorous voice first appeared in The Sportswriter, which is widely regarded as Ford’s breakthrough novel, bo…

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Trilobites and Other Stories by Breece D’J Pancake

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

It’s inevitable that when reading Trilobites, the collected short stories of Breece D’J Pancake, that we come to consider the backstory of the author. This slim volume was pulled together after Panca…

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Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

Midway through ‘World Party’, one of the seven stories that make up Rebecca Lee’s debut collection, Bobcat and Other Stories, the narrator describes a fellow lecturer from her university: ‘She used h…

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Life Drawing by Robin Black

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

When Robin Black’s collection of stories, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, was published in 2010, she had been a teacher of fiction and was in her 40s, facts which seemed to pop up quite often …

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Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

First published in 2007, Teju Cole’s novella is now available for the first time outside of Nigeria. It’s difficult to view this work without considering his brilliant debut novel, Open City, which d…

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The Secret Maker of the World by Abbas El-Zein

Reviewed by Chris Somerville

The stories in The Secret Maker of the World span different time periods, transporting readers across the world, from Lebanon to Australia, to China. We meet a mayor facing down scandal, a priest wel…

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News

Six Australian short-story collections that made an impression on me this year

by Chris Somerville

For a long time, even before I’d written a book but told people, misguidedly, that I was working on a collection of short stories, the response I received would usually be, ‘I heard short stories are making a comeback’, sometimes with a sympathetic nod, or whispered like a quiet, sad mantra. That was several years ago. Did this happen? I honestly can’t tell, and it probably doesn’t even matter.

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What I Loved: Americana by Don DeLillo

by Chris Somerville

Here is how I ended up with a copy of Americana: I was 17 and it was lent to me by a neighbour, a professor at the university my father had worked at, who told me it was good but not Don DeLillo’s best. At the time I was like a lot of 17-year-olds who studied creative writing; likely too arrogant and too annoying to be around.

I’d borrowed the book with the idea that I wanted to read first novel…

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Top five songs to get a NYE party started

by Chris Somerville

The social anxiety that is pulled along by New Year’s Eve is never worth it. Usually you’ll spend most of your night worrying that everyone is going to have a better time than you. Here’s five songs you can play - in a row - at your garbage party to make it the best time ever.

1. ‘Senorita’ by Justin Timberlake.

You are throwing a party. People have turned up. They’re eating dip and drinking. Y…

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Gabrielle Carey chats to Chris Somerville about Moving Among Strangers

by Chris Somerville

Gabrielle Carey talks to Chris Somerville about the reclusive novelist Randolph Stow, the secrets families keep and her new memoir, Moving Among Strangers.

‘One night I dreamt I saw Randolph Stow. He was sitting in a cave, wearing a long robe, his chest bare, ascetic, like one of the desert fathers. There was something magisterial about his aspect, and compelling, magnetic.
I woke with a shock.

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Five Notable Uses of Music In Breaking Bad

by Chris Somerville

Chris Somerville talks about some of his music highlights in the television drama, Breaking Bad.

Currently I’m trying to catch up on Breaking Bad before the season ends and everyone talks about it on social media. I realise, of course, that this is entirely my own fault, and that I’ve had ample time to catch up. Even so it irked me when recently a woman sitting next to me on a plane saw me wat…

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The lies we tell, you and I

by Chris Somerville

Chris Somerville writes on the anxieties of literary taste, and the lies we tell to cover them.

When I was around nineteen or in my early twenties, I went into a second hand bookstore near my house. Where I live, on the Gold Coast, is not the best place for bookstores, but there are a few great second hand ones scattered about. I was browsing through the fiction when I spotted a book that I re…

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