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The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin

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On a frosty January morning in 2019, I found myself listening to oral argument at the Supreme Court of the United States. The cases I witnessed were not destined for headlines – no abortion, free speech, or death penalty cases that day – but I was still fortunate to get a seat. Queues snaked around the building, with tightly controlled ticketed entry and heavily armed security. As a scholar of constitutional courts, I was delighted by the public interest (less so by the guns), even if a Trump shut-down of nearby tourist attractions may have augmented the numbers. But none of us attending that day expected to witness something extraordinary: Clarence Thomas speaking.



Ali Alizadeh is Poet of the Month

In the first review of my poetry, I discovered that my writing was ‘headache-inducing’ and ‘best avoided’. I was pleased that my book had at least caused a headache for that sinister reviewer! Over the years, though, even hysterically negative reviews – and, boy, do I attract them! – don’t excite or bother me too much. The best thing I’ve got from a review is knowing that there are readers who pay attention to a book’s composition, to the labour that I’ve put into producing the thing.



Open Page with James Bradley

I’m always little uneasy about the edge of élitism underlying the policing of language, but I have to confess to a loathing for psychological banalities like ‘closure’ and ‘unconditional love’, most of which are actually worse than meaningless.



An interview with Jane Curry

I have always published the books that reflect what I would like to write myself, which is why our list champions the female voice so well and also mental health issues. I did start a memoir a few years ago. But it was too gloomy for me to write let alone for someone to read. My father had died the same year so I see now it was completely the wrong time. It was such hard work to find my voice and so lonely a task that I have the utmost respect for writers. However after a trip back to England for Christmas, I find that the words are flowing. Writing takes me to a place of deep and productive solitude – and I now no longer fear where my writing might take me.

From the Archive

April 2006, no. 280

The Meaning of Recognition: New Essays 2001–2005 by Clive James

Clive James once said that the problem with being famous is that you begin by being loved for what you do and end up thinking that you are loved for who you are. Quite possibly, it is to avoid such a fate that James has returned in the past few years to the thing that got him noticed in the first place – writing dazzling prose. Absenting himself from the Crystal Bucket, he has become once more a full-time writer, popping up in the Times Literary Supplement and Australian Book Review with gratifying regularity. The title of his latest collection of essays refers to its first and final pieces, both of which deal with the crucial difference between celebrity and recognition, a subject currently dear to his heart, partly for the reason outlined above, partly because the current media is saturated with noisy nonentities. Since James is no doubt frequently recognised by people ignorant of the very achievement for which he really deserves recognition, his thoughts on the subject are clearly invaluable.

From the Archive

November 1993, no. 156

The Grisly Wife by Rodney Hall

With the publication of Rodney Hall’s latest novel, The Grisly Wife, the author has brought to completion a trilogy that first began appearing in 1988. Since this last published novel is actually the middle work of the trilogy and what were formerly two separate novels are now bridged by this newcomer, we are finally given the opportunity to assess if and how the parts relate to the whole.

From the Archive

December 1985–January 1986, no. 77

Ramming the Shears by Michael Leunig

The thing that has distinguished the ‘inspired genius’ from the run of the mill ‘practitioner’ in all creativity is quality of mind. Michael Leunig, few Australians have to be told, has this. But astonishingly, quality of mind has not been a gradual, developing part of Leunig’s work, for it was evident as an integral part of his art, first widely seen in the pages of the fondly remembered National Review fifteen years ago. This is not to say he has not developed – he has in subtle directions and of course his graphic expression too has developed, as it should, with the discipline of creating for the Melbourne Age newspaper.

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