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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

From the Archive

October 2014, no. 365

Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe' by Matthew Pratt Guterl

When Josephine Baker died in Paris in April 1975, it was almost fifty years since her sensational triumph in that city in 1925 as the star of La Revue Nègre. Her legendary status in France today remains linked to her emblematic role in the extraordinary unleashing of emotion and sensuality that came with the French Jazz Age and its upheaval of tradition. But her image also includes her work in the Resistance during the German Occupation, work which saved lives and assisted vital communication, earning her the Croix de Guerre, the Resistance Medal, and the Legion of Honour. Both culturally and politically she is perceived as a figure of liberation. Her experiment in adopting a large multiracial family – The ‘Rainbow Tribe’ – and raising the children in her Dordogne château, while generally shrugged off as a failed Utopian dream, and the cause of the financial ruin that necessitated her rescue by Princess Grace of Monaco, is also seen as evidence of a laudable anti-racist stance. And her humanitarian activism in the United States and South America are folded into the same positive picture of a woman who, having chosen France as her heartland, has been elected by the French as a national treasure.

From the Archive

March 2010, no. 319

Don Anderson reviews 'Below the Styx' by Michael Meehan

'What’s in a name?’ as C.J. Dennis and Shakespeare asked. Maybe much, as in nomen: omen – maybe naught, as in the case of the narrator Michael Meehan’s fourth novel, Below the Styx. For this chap’s name is Martin Frobisher, a distinctive name that rings several bells. Sir Martin Frobisher (c.1535–94) was an English navigator who made three attempts from 1576 to 1578 to discover the North-West Passage, giving his name to a bay on Baffin Island and bringing back to England ‘black earth’, which was mistakenly thought to contain gold. He later served against the Spanish Armada and raided Spanish treasure ships.

Meehan’s protagonist would appear to have nothing whatsoever in common with his Tudor namesake, and his name may be a subspecies of that great Australian comic trope, the furphy. From the first page of the book, it is all but impossible to shake the conviction that ‘Martin Frobisher’ has a weighty significance, while it may in fact be empty, a linguistic terra nullius. It may be a Shaggy Dog, happily at home in this benignly witty and whimsical novel, which is also a murder mystery.