Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Review: White Time - Margo Lanagan

Published: 2010, David Fickling Books (originally published 2000)
Pages: 250 pages, paperback
Series/standalone?: Yes
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Margo Lanagan's North American debut, Black Juice, won a 2005 Printz Honor award. Now the Sydney, Australia-based author returns with a new collection of stories about the slippery space between reality and other dimensions.

My review: I've been a huge fan of Margo Lanagan ever since I first read Tender Morsels, which was one of the first review copies I ever received. I fell in love with her beautiful writing style within the first few pages and have since enjoyed Red Spikes and Black Juice, two of her short story collections.

White Time is another short story collection (published before Red Spikes and Black Juice), this time focusing more on sci-fi and dystopia than the more fantastical elements that we saw in Red Spikes. Although it was slightly outside the genres I usually read I thought I'd give it a go as I'm such a fan of Lanagan. I'm glad I took a chance on White Time as there are some real gems in the collection.

The Boy Who Didn't Yearn is a fantastic story and definitely stood out for me as the winner; I reread it a couple of times and enjoyed it just as much on the second and third read. Every story is full of Lanagan's wonderful use of imagery and turn of phrase, which I really do love. I think I'll always try and keep up with her releases as she always delivers such unique and interesting ideas. Also, she's one of my favourite writers on Twitter so do check her out on there.

I think Lanagan's writing may not suit everybody's tastes; I'm lucky that I really love her work but her writing can be a little abrupt so I'm not sure how well that would sit with all readers. Especially the endings! I find she loves to plunge readers in mid-way through the action (no pointless scene setting here - hooray) but can also pull us out of the story a little sooner than some of us might want to leave. I do like her abrupt endings but in certain stories I did find it a little frustrating.

If you've never read anything by Margo Lanagan before I'd probably point you in the direction of Red Spikes first, which is my favourite of her short story collections. White Time is another great collection from one of my top writers but I don't think it quite tops the brilliance of Tender Morsels.

First line: '"Bugga." Sheneel crumpled the hard copy, tossed it bin-wards and banged her head a few times on the desk.'

Read if you liked…: Red Spikes - Margo Lanagan

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5
Total: 16/20 (B)


  1. I didn't realise she had written anything else other than Tender Morsels. I hope to read that one soon, as I picked it up at the event we went too.

  2. Black Juice is excellent, too--that was my introduction to Margo. :) Eerie and evocative, as usual!

  3. I think what you said was completely right about Margo's style of writing. I couldn't quite get to grips with the abruptness of some of the stories that I tried to read. Which is a shame, because so many people such great things about her work.


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