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ABR Arts

Book of the Week

On Kim Scott: Writers on writers
Literary Studies

On Kim Scott: Writers on writers by Tony Birch

In this latest instalment of Black Inc.’s ‘Writers on Writers’ series, we have the intriguing prospect of Tony Birch reflecting on the work of Kim Scott. While most of the previous twelve books in this series have featured a generational gap, Birch and Scott, both born in 1957, are almost exact contemporaries. This is also the first book in the series in which an Indigenous writer is considering the work of another Indigenous writer. It will not be giving too much away to say that Birch’s assessment of Scott’s oeuvre is based in admiration. There is no sting in the tail or smiling twist of the knife.




From the Archive

June–July 2014, no. 362

Meatloaf in Manhattan by Robert Power


‘Buffalo Bill and the Psychiatrist’, ‘The Story of Little-Path and Marcus Kellogg’, ‘Zorro the Chess Master’: the playful titles of Power’s stories appear to belie the seriousness of his concerns. There is light and whimsy in this collection, but how much lies beneath the surface?

Power’s stories skip from Papua to digital worlds, the Wild West to contemporary Melbourne. For all their diverse settings, however, many read as if the events are floating in empty space rather than nailed down by concrete details. Furthermore, the exotic backdrops can feel arbitrary. The orphan protagonist of ‘She Calls Her Boy Amazing’ could be growing up almost anywhere – Vietnam plays no role in either the dramatic or thematic development of the story. Often the settings in Meatloaf in Manhattan seem inconsequential, like a garnish rather than part of the meal.

From the Archive

April 2008, no. 300

The spellbinder

The title is presumably meant to be ambiguous. Not only did the protagonist, Howard Hughes, hurtle round the world in aeroplanes of his own devising, and not only did he ingest amphetamines at a rate that would finish most of us, but there is also a sense of his crashing non-stop through life itself. And 'speed', he tells us in Luke Davies' remarkable new novel, 'shouldered some of the weight for me ... helped me maintain control over a bucking project, since, control, ultimately, is all there is.'

From the Archive

April 2007, no. 290

The Heart of James McAuley by Peter Coleman

It is now thirty years since James McAuley died, and more has been written about him in that time than about any other Australian poet. Poets are not usually of great biographical importance unless they are also caught up in historical and political events, or are a kind of phenomenon like Byron or Rimbaud. McAuley was not a man of action, but he was associated with a number of events which were significant in Australian development and culture; and a large, some would say inordinate, part of his life and energy went into politics and polemics. He became something of a public figure, and, as he himself recognised, the lives of such figures quickly become public property. Any book about him is bound to be of interest.