Mary Lord

Transgressions edited by Don Anderson & The Australian Short Story by Laurie Hergenhan

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May 1986, no. 80

I have a theory that every second Australian is a closet short story writer. And this is a conservative estimate. According to my theory, the so-called ‘booms’ in the history of the Australian short story in the 1890s and 1950s merely reflected fashions in the book and magazine publishing businesses, not the relentless scratching away in exercise books or thumping of battered typewriters which occupies the waking hours of the determined taleteller and which is, I am convinced, a more popular national pastime than dodging income tax. How else to explain the sheer volume of short stories being published? And these are but the tip of the iceberg – a mere fraction of those that have been and are being written.

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With her first book, the short story collection The Home Girls, Olga Masters has made her ‘own’ a particularly neglected area of Australian life and a special way of seeing it. She also became an award winner in the 1983 NBC Awards for Australian Literature. Now, with her first novel, Loving Daughters she confirms the impression that a unique voice and an important one has joined the ranks of our major storytellers. Her territory is confined to the lives of ordinary country-folk in the period between the wars, in the present work the period around the early 1920s and the place a small farming township on the south coast of New South Wales.

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Archipelagoes by Peter Goldsworthy & The Harlots Enter First by Gerard Windsor

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February–March 1983, no. 48

It is comparatively rare for a new writer to bring out his first two collections in the one year, and even more rare that one should be a collection of verse and the other of short stories. Yet this is exactly what Peter Goldsworthy has done. His name will be unfamiliar to many, but those who regularly read literary magazines will have come across his stories and poems before and he will undoubtedly be heard of again.

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This is not a reissue of a novel almost twenty years old, nor is it quite a new novel: it is a heavily revised version of an early work by the author of the prize-winning novel Year of Living Dangerously. Across the Sea Wall was written before C.J. Koch was thirty. In a prefatory note to the new version he writes: ‘If such novels of youth are worth republishing, they are worth revising ... The cuts and alterations are not fundamental, but they are extensive.’ He concludes with the hope ‘that the earlier version of this work will be consigned to oblivion, and that anyone referring to the book, or quoting from it, will go to no other version but this one’.

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At seventy-one Judah Waten is not just another old soldier who refuses to fade away. Nor is he a man who keeps writing books out of habit. He is a born storyteller who writes when he has something to tell us. And the more he writes, the more powerful and persuasive his fictions become.

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ABR is very proud to present its readers with this special supplement in honour of the eightieth birthday of one of Australia's most significant writers, Christina Stead, whose birthday falls on July 17. I am particularly grateful for John McLaren for asking me to edit this supplement and for thus allowing me to be associated with this gesture of respect and esteem towards one whom I regard as a most valued friend.

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For those who think that opera in Australia only began to get off the ground this book will come as something of a shock. There was a time, over a hundred years ago, when enthusiastic audiences drawn from across the social spectrum supported ‘regular seasons of the world’s best musical theatre’ by a resident, commercial opera company which played in all the major capital cities.

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It seems that going to the theatre has always been a popular activity with Australians. Popular theatre during the period covered by this book (1834–1914) staged a remarkable variety of Australian plays: operettas, melodramas, burlesques, sensation plays, and extravaganzas. On Our Selection, the first play to be called ‘Australian through and through’, opened to an audience of more than a thousand and achieved tremendous popularity.

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