Jennings, Kate 1948-
JENNINGS, Kate 1948-
PERSONAL: Born 1948, in Australia. Education: University of Sydney, B.A. (with honors).
ADDRESSES: Home—NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Fourth Estate, 77-85 Fulham Palace Rd., London W6 8JB, England.
Come to Me My Melancholy Baby (poetry), Outback Press (Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia), 1975.
(Editor) Mother, I'm Rooted: An Anthology of Australian Women Poets, Outback Press (Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia), 1975.
Women Falling Down in the Street (short fiction), William Heinemann Australia (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1990.
Snake (novel), Ecco Press (Hopewell, NJ), 1997.
Save Me, Joe Louis (autobiography), Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1988.
Moral Hazard (novel), Fourth Estate (London, England), 2002.
Also the author of essays.
SIDELIGHTS: Australian expatriate Kate Jennings is well known in her native country for her poetry, essays, short stories, and novels. In 1997 the feminist writer gained recognition in the United States for Snake, a short novel composed of seventy-seven brief chapters that depict the disintegration of a family of four living in rural Australia during the 1950s. The first and last chapters are told in second person, the first addressed to Rex (the husband), and the final to Irene (the wife). The central part of this short novel is told in third person and describes the family's activities, including those of the children Girlie and Boy. Yet the book mainly focuses on wellborn Irene, who expected more of life and now finds herself consumed with anger at her situation. She has a desire to escape from her deadening existence on the farm.
Writing in Booklist, Mary Carroll described Snake as "a pointillistic portrait of a painfully dysfunctional family." Other commentators discussed Jennings's prose and use of reptile imagery, as literal and figurative snakes abound in the novel. Yvette Weller Olson, writing in Library Journal, called Jennings's writing style forceful and "sparse as the outback she describes, harsh yet beautiful." In Publishers Weekly, a critic termed Snake "lean" and "startling," declaring that "domestic dystopia has rarely been distilled into such concentrated literary form."
Jennings's second novel, Moral Hazard, is about Cath, an honest woman who goes to work on Wall Street in order to support her husband's Alzheimer's. As her husband deteriorates, Cath discovers just how ruthless and corrupt the bankers she works for are. Amanda Craig in the New Statesman wrote, "Jennings's crisp prose conveys pain beyond honesty." A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that Jennings "masterfully documents the culture of economic and corporate arrogance."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Australian Book Review, August, 1996, p. 45.
Book, July-August, 2002, Paul Evans, review of Moral Hazard, p. 83.
Booklist, April 1, 1997, p. 1281.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2002, review of Moral Hazard, p. 359.
Library Journal, April 1, 1997, p. 127.
Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2002, Kai Maristed, review of Moral Hazard, p. E-4.
New Statesman, April 15, 2002, Amanda Craig, review of Moral Hazard, p. 53.
New York Times Book Review, May 11, 1997, p. 11; June 1, 1997, p. 37; June 30, 2002, Lisa Zeidner, review of Moral Hazard, p. 5.
O, The Oprah Magazine, June, 2002, review of Moral Hazard, p. 158.
Publishers Weekly, March 10, 1997, p. 50; April 8, 2002, review of Moral Hazard, p. 201.
Small Press, February, 1990, p. 50.
Time International, May 6, 2002, Michael Fitzgerald, review of Moral Hazard, p. 66.
Times Literary Supplement, March 29, 2002, Margaret Stead, review of Moral Hazard, p. 23.*