The shortlist: 'My Father's Thesaurus' by A. Frances Johnson; 'Precision Signs' by Lachlan Brown; 'Constellation of Bees' by Julie Manning; 'That Wadjela Tongue' by Claire G. Coleman; 'South Coast Sonnets' by Ross Gillett.
Finding the Heart of the Nation: The journey of the Uluru Statement towards voice, treaty and truth by Thomas Mayor
The ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ emerged in May 2017 from a convention held in Arrernte country in Central Australia attended by 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from around the nation. The Statement called for a ‘First Nations Voice’ to be enshrined in the Constitution enabling, in general terms, a process of influence on future legislation and policy affecting Indigenous communities. The Statement also seeks a commitment to agreement-making between government and Indigenous groups and ‘truth-telling’ about the history of colonisation.
Dancing Under the Southern Skies: A history of ballet in Australia by Valerie Lawson
Valerie Lawson is a balletomane whose writing on dance encompasses newspaper articles and also articles and editorials for numerous dance companies. Lawson’s lavishly illustrated Dancing Under the Southern Skies, like Arnold Haskell’s mid-twentieth-century popular histories of ballet, substitutes stories about ballet and ballet dancers for a cohesive historical narrative about ballet in Australia. Portraits, images of ballet dancers posing in photographers’ studios, and ephemera are reproduced in the book; but the total sum of stage photos – of dancing – can be counted on one hand.
The Topeka School by Ben Lerner
Modern US culture has a peculiar love of the extracurricular world of teenagers, valorising the spelling bees, debating competitions, and varsity-level football games of its youth. In Ben Lerner’s new novel, The Topeka School, the interscholastic debating trophy is so sought after that tournaments resemble verbal combat, in which high-school competitors rely on sly technique rather than substance. Witness the use of what our teenage protagonist, Adam Gordon, aptly refers to as ‘the spread’: a rapid-fire, near-hysterical diatribe designed to deliver so many arguments in such a short amount of time that the opposing team will be unable to address each point.
From the Issue
Almost Human: A biography of Julius the chimpanzee by Alfred Fidjestøl
The Manner of Their Going: Prime ministerial exits in Australia by Norman Abjorensen
Love is Strong as Death: Poems chosen by Paul Kelly edited by Paul Kelly
The assertion that ‘love is strong as death’ comes from the Song of Solomon, a swooning paean to sexual love that those unfamiliar with the Old Testament might be startled to find there. Songwriter and musician Paul Kelly has included it in this hefty, eclectic, and beautifully produced anthology of poetry, which has ‘meaningful gift’ written all over it.
Liberalism at Large: The world according to The Economist by Alexander Zevin
Few media institutions are revered across the mainstream political spectrum quite like The Economist. Since its founding in London in 1843, The Economist – which insists on calling itself a newspaper despite switching to a magazine format in the mid-twentieth century – has developed a reputation for intelligent, factual reporting and forthright advocacy for free trade and economic expansion. And it has weathered the digital storm far better than most publications, with print circulation now higher than it was prior to the arrival of the internet.
There is something fundamentally irritating about Adam Sandler. Whether it’s his two-dimensional characters, mousey face, or nasally voice, he reminds you of that obnoxious guy whose loud voice dominates a party. He is the poster boy of puerile comedy, the SNL-alum visionary of some of the most blasphemously bad films of all time. The sheer offensiveness of his work is unignorable: the homophobia of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), the racism of Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008), the sexism of … pretty much all of it. Each film generally comprises a character arc of Sandler urinating freely, shouting petulantly, fucking wildly, and then maybe punching someone: The end.
On The Plain Of Snakes: A Mexican road trip by Paul Theroux
At seventy-six, Paul Theroux drove from his home in Cape Cod to Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican road trip is his account of this adventure, at times misinformed, on occasions tedious, with moments of entertaining, well-researched discussions about the scintillating complexity of Mexico.