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Michael McGirr

Michael McGirr

Michael McGirr is the Dean of Faith at St Kevin’s College in Melbourne, a school that was started by the Christian Brothers. His most recent book is Ideas to Save Your Life (Text Publishing, 2021).

Michael McGirr reviews ‘Geckos and Moths’ by Patricia Johnson and ‘Forever in Paradise’ by Apelu Tielu

December 2003–January 2004, no. 257 01 December 2003
Geckos and Moths is a time capsule. A note by the author, Patricia Johnson, indicates that the first draft of the book was written thirty years ago, after her partner had drowned in the Trobriand Islands. In many cases, a book begun so long ago and in such circumstances might best have been left in the bottom drawer. But Geckos and Moths has much to offer. One of the main reasons for this is that ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews ‘Lessons from the Heart’ by John Clanchy

November 2003, no. 256 01 November 2003
John Clancy does a number of curious things in his new novel. One of them is to put Patrick White’s Voss into the hands of his heroine. Laura is in Year 12. Her teacher, Miss Temple, happens to find a copy of Voss when they are together on a school excursion to Alice Springs. Laura immediately warms to the book. She is a remarkable young woman, sensitive and resourceful. Destined to study medici ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews ‘Unparalleled Sorrow: Finding my way back from depression’ by Barry Dickins

September 2009, no. 314 01 September 2009
This is the same Barry Dickins who used to write a column for the religion section of The Melbourne Times. The religion section dealt with football, and Dickins covered the waxing and mostly waning fortunes of the Fitzroy Lions, who were long ago squeezed into amalgamation with Brisbane. Brisbane was never an inner suburb of Melbourne, a sore point with followers, many of whom wore black to the ga ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'Making it National: Nationalism and Australian Popular Culture' by Graeme Turner

April 1996, no. 179 01 April 1996
It was during the writers’ week of the Adelaide Festival in 1992 that I first heard the so-called Australian sense of humour described as ‘Slavic’. This intrigued me at the time; now it troubles me. That week in March 1992 turned out to be the one during which sharp lines were finally drawn in Sarajevo and the attack on Bosanski Brod signalled the outbreak of war in Bosnia. Although it is di ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'The Poison Principle' by Gail Bell

June 2001, no. 231 01 June 2001
In the sixteenth century a Swiss physician and alchemist by the name of Paracelsus claimed that everything was potentially poisonous, as long as you took enough of it: ‘the right dose differentiates a poison and a remedy.’ There is plenty of evidence to support this point of view. Legal claims for damages caused by asbestos and passive smoking are reminders that what may be a safe environment ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'Francis: A Saint’s Way' by James Cowan

August 2001, no. 233 01 August 2001
It wasn’t long before myths and legends grew up around the story of St Francis of Assisi. James Cowan is right to suggest that this process began before Francis died and that Francis himself allowed or willed it to happen. He may even have encouraged it: ‘Francis endeavoured to make a metaphor out of his own life.’ Many of these myths come close to suggesting that Francis was a kind of rein ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'Lady Spy, Gentleman Explorer' by Heather Rossiter and Miles Lewis

July 2001, no. 232 01 July 2001
Antarctica feeds the Australian imagination. The two continents are mirror images of each other: dry and largely barren, both managed to elude European description for longer than just about anywhere else. They are yin and yang; hot and cold. As time goes by and Antarctica, like outer space, becomes one more tourist destination, there is legitimate concern about the damage being caused to the wor ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'The Feasts and Seasons of John F. Kelly' by Robert Pascoe

July–August 2007, no. 293 01 July 2007
Within church circles, Melbourne’s Catholic Education Office is known as the CEO, making it sound like the boss of a company. The comparison is apt. The Melbourne CEO is nothing if not big. Indirectly, it looks after more schools and more students than a number of state education departments. So it is little wonder that the CEO has long been a turf on which ideological battles have been fought. ... (read more)
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