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ABR Arts

Book of the Week

Long Island

Long Island by Colm Tóibín

Enniscorthy, a town in County Wexford, was Colm Tóibín’s birthplace in 1955. His father was a schoolteacher and local historian. Martin Tóibín died young, when Colm was twelve, an early loss explored in Tóibín’s novel Nora Webster (2014), in which the eponymous widow’s son Donal is likewise twelve and a stammerer. In 2009, Tóibín published Brooklyn, which moves between Enniscorthy and New York City. The very modesty of Tóibín’s middle-class settings and characters – their constrained lives, village absorptions, small defeats – could not obscure Tóibín’s subtle artistry or his forensic interest in psychology, especially that of his women, many of whom are so complex, so contradictory, as to make the male characters seem extraneous, unimaginative, stolid.


Calibre Essays

From the Archive

March 2006, no. 279

A Trial Separation: Australia and the decolonisation of Papua New Guinea by Donald Denoon

This book is a milestone in the historiography of Australia and Papua New Guinea. It puts paid to sterile debates about whether PNG’s independence came too early. ‘Decolonisation,’ Professor Donald Denoon concludes, ‘is by no means complete and independence is a work in progress.’ What happened on 16 September 1975 was the beginning of a ‘trial separation’: ‘Australian rule over the territory was not a marriage made in heaven, and it could never be consummated by full integration. Yet those countries are so close in so many ways that the divorce cannot easily be made absolute.’

From the Archive

March 2006, no. 279

Collins by Judith Raphael Buckrich (with Keith Dunstan, Rohan Storey and Marc Strizic) & Go! Melbourne edited by Seamus O’Hanlon and Tanja Luckins

Two new books with Melbourne as their subject couldn’t be more disparate in size, form, content and accuracy. Collins: The Story of Australia’s Premier Street is a big, well-designed book. It has a mysterious provenance and more than a smattering of inaccuracies: but it has pictures. These are mostly from the State Library of Victoria, and even those dating from the early years of outside photography provide clear details of the buildings and people of the time. They will enchant even those who dare think that our premier street is not so very different from the main streets of Manchester or Madison.

From the Archive

December 1985–January 1986, no. 77

Aboriginal Writing Today edited by Jack Davis and Bob Hodge

This book is a collection of papers from the first Aboriginal Writer’s Conference, held at Murdoch University in February 1983. Despite the long (unexplained) lapse between the conference and the appearance of this book, the papers raise a number of urgent and complex problems, for writers and commentators.