Bennett, Jonathan 1970–
Bennett, Jonathan 1970–
PERSONAL: Born 1970, in Australia; immigrated to Canada.
ADDRESSES: Home—Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Agent—c/o Dean Cooke, The Cooke Agency, 278 Bloor St. E., Ste. 305, Toronto, Ontario M4W 3M4, Canada. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer and educator. Writing instructor at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario; and George Brown College, Toronto.
After Battersea Park (novel), Raincoast Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2001.
Verandah People (short stories), Publishers Group West (Berkeley, CA), 2003.
Here Is My Street, This Tree I Planted (poems), ECW Press, 2004
Contributor to periodicals, including Globe & Mail, Quill & Quire, and Descant.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Jonathan Bennett, an Australian transplanted to Canada, writes in many genres. His first published book, After Battersea Park, is a novel about identical twin brothers who were separated at age four. The two were raised thousands of miles apart, Curt in Australia and William in Canada, yet their lives have eerie similarities. Both have artistic careers, the former as a jazz musician and the latter as a visual artist, and both have difficulties in their personal relationships stemming from a fear of abandonment. Circumstances eventually propel the two to a reunion in Hawaii, but this does not result in the kind of resolution a reader might expect. "In lesser-skilled hands, this scenario would conclude with a kind of hackneyed happiness, a predictably pat ending where both men use each other to 'figure out' themselves," Mark Sampson explained in the Danforth Review. Instead, readers are "given something much richer, much truer." "In remarkably concise fashion," Joanne Wilkinson noted in Booklist, "Bennett's story encompasses two decades and three continents while limning themes of family and cultural identity."
Bennett's next book, Verandah People, is a short-story collection featuring twelve tales set in Australia, in Sydney and the surrounding area. All of the stories feature tragedies, many from the point of view of those who are left behind to try to cope after others are killed. In "Landmarks," a man cannot stop having nightmares about a girl who drowned after her hair tangled in a pool filter; in "Out Walking," a soon-to-be-married woman's life is shattered when a body falls to the street outside the window of a store where she is shopping. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commended "Bennett's sometimes unpolished but ravishing language" and "his ability to animate lives within a landscape that dwarfs the human" in this title.
From Verandah People, Bennett turned to poetry with the publication of Here Is My Street, This Tree I Planted. He began working on the poems, Bennett explained to Poetics.ca interviewer Stephen Brockwell, after some people criticized After Battersea Park for swinging "from plotted, garden-variety prose, to whole scenes written in a far denser way: prose poems, almost…. I was so bloody worried about my voice and if it sounded Australian or Canadian, that I never thought to consider that I might have multiple urges, that is, not just to write novels and stories, but poems, too."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2001, Joanne Wilkinson, review of After Battersea Park, p. 190.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Verandah People, p. 757.
Danforth Review Onlin, http://www.danforthreview.com/ (October 18, 2005), Mark Sampson, review of After Battersea Park.
Jonathan Bennett Home Page, http://www.jonathanbennett.com (October 18, 2005).
Poetics.ca, http://www.poetics.ca/ (October 28, 2005), Stephen Brockwell, "A Time and a Place: An Interview with Jonathan Bennett."