Novel Reviews

After years of living with a manuscript that I barely discussed with anyone, being reviewed and having people articulate their responses to the novel is an unusual (and exciting) experience. I want to write a bit about the experience. Not just yet though – I think I should wait a bit longer for that.

But in the meantime, here is a selection of links and quotes from people who have written about my writing.

The first response I read to the novel was Deborah’s post on In A Strange Land. There is this similarly thoughtful and detailed response on Helen’s blog at Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony. Pavlov’s Cat wrote this post the day after the launch. Deborah also had this to say about The Advertiser‘s review.

Here is a transcript of a radio review by Gillian Dooley, the final paragraph of which reads/says (?) “Black Dust Dancing could appear to be a fairly simple morality tale about the conflict between loyalty and making a principled stand. But it’s surprisingly deep and its economy and the lucidity of its language are stunning when you consider the complexities it contains.”

In The Big Issue, Kabita Dhara ended her review by saying:
“Based on true events in a rural Australian town, this is a remarkable debut novel. Quietly self-assured, with a sharp eye for detail, Tracy Crisp explores the complex relationships between people in a town whose loyalties are being strained, as well as between families struggling with changing times.”

On the Readings website, Jo Case opens her review by saying:

“This intimate, deeply-felt novel centres on a small industrial town where the industry that supports the community appears to be threatening its children.” Later on, she says, that the novel’s “…pleasures lie within its crisply drawn characterisations, choice details and observations, and the gradually excavated fault lines in its relationships” and ends by saying that, “the reader is kept thinking and guessing as they piece together the way the past is feeding into the present. ‘Just because people don’t lie, doesn’t mean they tell the truth,’ says one character – and that observation is at the heart of this impressive first novel.”

I like what they say about the relationships in the novel. I like that a lot.

In Australian Book Review, Jay Daniel Thompson says that, “throughout Dancing, there is some richly evocative prose”, so that’s good, but he thinks that generally the story is “slow and uneventful”. I always knew that some people would find this problematic, so although I’m sorry to see it turn up in a review, I’m not surprised.

I completely disagree with his assertion that, “The key theme of Tracy Crisp’s novel is the way in which our surroundings can impact on our physical and mental well-being”. I agree that it’s a theme, or at least is an element of the book, but it’s certainly not what I had uppermost in my mind as something I wanted to explore. So I have to do a bit of thinking about how I feel about that and what impact that might have on current projects and so on.

And meanwhile, I’m working away on my script, which will be very public, very soon, all the while thinking, ‘Oh, look at that, I can write’ quickly followed by, ‘Oh, no, I was right all along, I can’t’, consoling myself with, ‘You can’t appeal to everyone’, followed by hanging another load of washing out. Wish I were one of those people who never read reviews. Or one of those people whose reviews were all raves.

Updated to add: I have been editing this page as I go, and I will probably keep changing it. Overall, I’m still not sure how to approach this, but I do get google searches coming here looking for reviews so I’ve got it here for now.


2 Responses to “Novel Reviews”

  1. SQ May 21, 2009 at 3:44 pm #

    And imagine being able to have a navigation element that says ‘Novel Reviews’. How cool is that.

  2. genevieve September 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    For what it’s worth, I think this page is very good, Tracy. Tom Cho is the only other person I’ve seen doing this and he’s received some commendations for the exercise. So, a good move.

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