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ABR Arts

Book of the Week

Hazzard and Harrower: The letters

Hazzard and Harrower: The letters edited by Brigitta Olubas and Susan Wyndham

‘Everyone allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female.’ So said Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey. Even allowing for Regency hyperbole, there is some truth in the sally. We think of the inimitable letters of Emily Dickinson, who once wrote to a succinct correspondent: ‘It were dearer had you protracted it, but the Sparrow must not propound his crumb.’ In 2001, Gregory Kratzmann edited A Steady Stream of Correspondence: Selected Letters of Gwen Harwood, 1943-1995. Anyone who ever received a letter or postcard from Harwood – surely our finest letter writer – knows what an event that was. She was nonpareil: witty, astringent, frank, irrepressible. Now we have this welcome collection of letters written by Elizabeth Harrower and Shirley Hazzard (unalphabetised on the cover, in a possible concession to the expatriate Hazzard’s international fame).




From the Archive

February–March 1985, no. 68

The Children’s Bach by Helen Garner

The characters in Helen Garner’s new novella The Children’s Bach make up the kind of social molecule in at least one of which all of us feature as an atom.

From the Archive

April 2013, no. 350

Exile: The Lives and Hopes of Werner Pelz by Roger Averill

In 1985, at La Trobe University, a sociology undergraduate is in a tutorial with his supervisor. He has chosen to write 6000 words on the role of art and the artist in capitalist societies and his sixty-four-year-old tutor has, rather surprisingly, encouraged him.

From the Archive

May 2008, no. 301

‘Invisible Hinges’ by Chris Andrews

If between one footfall and the next, the wind
can swivel and issue empty threats of rain,
for all we know this could be one of those days,
unpinpointable even in retrospect,
when a dimly held belief begins to melt,
say the belief that it’s somehow generous
to assume that everyone’s rather like you.
An open-ended day promising nothing,
but just as full of zipjams, language splashes
and thixotropic flows, lost somewhere between
the day you realised you wouldn’t always
have to pretend to be interested in X
(opera, hot cars, Buffy Summers, poetry)