Friday, August 18, 2006

Title: Another

Genre: Novel

Author: Joel Deane

Publisher: IP

Year: 2004

Pages: 214

ISBN: 1 876819 25 1

Awards: Winner, IP Picks Best Fiction Award

'This striking debut novel by poet and Steve Bracks' speechwriter Deane exposes a mythical outer-suburban housing estate in somewhere (anywhere), Australia. Teenage protagonist Toby is a pacifist stranded in a sea of violence. His scars, arising from a mysterious accident, fascinate young Suzie. Self-harming Suzie pushes Toby into deeper and deeper water, until even murder seems just a precursor to something worse. Side characters are finely drawn, as is the concept of multi-generational domestic abuse and overheated, under-resourced locale. At times, a theme of ghostly indigenous children distracts you from the main narrative, but this winner of the IP Fiction Prize represents a fresh, compelling voice in contemporary Australian fiction. Not for the squemish.' - Jen Jewel Brown, Melbourne Weekly

'The novel is filmic in its attention to detail and almost unremittingly bleak. However, despite the grotty realism, the narrative is interspersed with lyrical magical realist moments. At times a narrator, in utero, contemplates the cosmic wonder of life in lines that reveal Deane’s double life as a poet: ‘I see this day dying ... and find myself in love with [it] for no good reason.’ The unborn narrator also comments on Toby’s blindness to the future and the past, which includes, as well as his own family’s tragedies, crimes against Aborigines. Sometimes Toby does see the shadows of history that rise – like the undead, like sinister unreason – with the night. These interludes are reminiscent of those in Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, which provides an interesting counterpoint. Deane’s novel represents a similar workingclass demographic, but rejects Winton’s heady romanticisation.' - Maria Takolander, Australian Book Review

'Another is harsh, a gruelling depiction of family breakdown, petty crime, adolescent discontent and inner and outer scars. Its confronting stream of short sentences jerked out as if in pain, convincingly capture the mood of sullen confusion.' - Paul Gimmel, Overland

'Another is a cleverly-structured piece of dark realist literature, portraying the harsh realities of everyday life in a most visual manner. Deane succeeds in creating disjointed slices of reality that come together to both shock and haunt his readers.' Rachael Blair, Journal of Australian Studies

'Joel Deane's first novel has just been published and is, in a word, compelling.' - Bob Hart, Herald Sun

'An unremitingly bleak story ... it is a part of Australian life that our literature hasn't much interest in coming to terms with and Deane seems to write about it from the inside and with real compassion for his characters' struggles.' - Owen Richardson, The Age

'This is the rubble of suburbia, an Australia we are too smug to acknowledge, too scared to enter. Joel Deane has written a dark and moving novel about families on the margins.' - George Megalogenis
Title: Subterranean Radio Songs

Genre: Poetry

Author: Joel Deane

Year: 2005

ISBN: 1 876819 31 6

  • Shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award
  • Winner IP Picks Best Poetry

'Joel Deane’s Subterranean Radio Songs is relaxed and full of flare.' Kevin Brophy and Robyn Rowland, judges of Anne Elder Award

'His work demonstrates distinct undertones of both worldliness and urbanity. He is also alert to what constitutes a ‘story’, including its colour and drama. For Deane events are related through the first-person singular – an authorial ‘I’, usually presented in a natural and straightforward way. The exception is Deane’s excellent ‘Dogma 95’, which toys with the ‘problem’ of authenticity. In this poem, two lovers on a beach act out roles, as if in separate movies. The ‘problem’ is this: we only have culturally determined strategies for any representation of self, all of them ‘second-degree’, and hence falsifying. I like Deane’s strong grasp of the so-called ‘dilemma’, and his nerve in sending it all up as bad faith and absurd intellectual cowardice, cutting through to the lovers’ genuine feelings. Deane’s book is an autobiography in two parts, with the first section (‘South’) taking us breezily through his childhood, to his first marriage and tragic loss of a child, then a traumatic break-up. ‘South’ concludes with the brilliantly energetic ‘Under Westgate’. In this virtuosic ‘poem in motion’, the hard, jerky, foot-down rhythms and kinaesthetic imagery convey a visceral experience of driving under the site of the famous bridge disaster, while everything spins emotionally out of control.' - John Jenkins, Australian Book Review

'Deane combines his storytelling skills with a natural instinct for the rhythms, rhymes and finely tuned lines of poetry. His work owes a lot to the tradition of the Beats and spoken word generally. The poetry is natural, fluid and accessible but there is emotional complexity, and a beating heart. The poems speak directly to the restless human spirit and hunger for experience. It made me long to grab a backpack and hit the road.' - IP Picks 2005 Judges’ Report