Archive

In November 1998, the Governor General, Sir William Deane, found himself in the centre of a storm over the commemoration of Australia’s Aboriginal dead. Launching historian Ken Inglis’s Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, Sir William remarked that in a country of more than 4,000 memorials there were none, at least of an official kind, to the Aborigines who had been slaughtered in the ‘Black Wars’ of the colonial period.

... (read more)

Andrew Riemer reviews 'The Deep Field' by James Bradley

Andrew Riemer
Saturday, 01 May 1999

Anyone can write a book, a cynic once remarked, but bringing off the second is a devil of a task. Most novelists at the outset of their careers would agree, I think – especially these days when a market-driven publishing industry often demands that authors of successful first novels should come up with more of the same ASAP.

... (read more)

‘Though I disagreed with some of the strategies and was as troubled as I should have been by some of the more fundamental conflicts [of feminism], it was not until feminists of my own generation began to assert with apparent seriousness that feminists had gone too far that the fire flared up in my belly.’

... (read more)

Peter Pierce’s concern in this critical study is with two periods – from the second half of the nineteenth century, when most of the myths of the lost child began to appear, and the second half of this century, when a quite different kind of narrative emerges. The period in between he regards as largely a consolidation of the late nineteenth-century examples. Ranging widely over not only literature but pictorial art and contemporary factual accounts, he shows the striking changes that take place in the forms in which the legend appears.

... (read more)

Since its initial publication in 1906, Who’s Who in Australia has dominated the market for contemporary biographical information in Australia. Founded by Fred Johns, an Adelaide journalist and Hansard reporter, it began as Johns’s Notable Australians, changed to Fred Johns’s Annual, became the Who’s Who in the Commonwealth of Australia for the sixth edition in 1922 and settled on its current name in 1927. After Johns died in 1932, the publication was taken over by the Herald and Weekly Times, and Who’s Who was issued every three years from 1935 to 1991.

... (read more)

In his third novel, Steven Carroll continues to work on those questions, obsessions, scenes and images that preoccupy him as a writer – the characters and personalities of women, and in particular that figure of a sexually charged and sophisticated young woman so disturbing to Helen Garner in The First Stone; the language of infatuation; the placement of characters in their particular city; mismatched lovers as the centre of a love story; and a certain trick Carroll has of overlaying the inner lives of characters with the narrative of events in the story being told. It is as though his characters swim, groggily, up out of their fantasies into the harsh, ironic events that have been provoked by their inner dreams. Life in his novels operates as a merciless commentary on the evasions and hubris of each character's consciousness.

... (read more)

David McCooey reviews 'The Kangaroo Farm' by Martin Harrison

David McCooey
Sunday, 01 February 1998

Martin Harrison’s attentive poetry must be read attentively: the snaking semi narratives move through the landscape as rivers finding their way. The tonal shifts and mixed modes are fundamental to this collection’s many middle-sized poems that are often (even more than in his previous book, The Distribution of Voice) both verse essay and lyric, as Kevin Hart has noted. Not that all this in itself makes for good poetry; there are times when the verbal constructions are a little too odd, a little too free with metaphorical bravura. Why is it that ‘The gift of tongues and sight is platypus’? Other poems play with their referents like a fisher with a fish. Even syntactically straightforward similes such as ‘Mirrored clouds spike themselves with sharp, green shoots / in paddies marked out like holding tanks or Versailles’ lakes’ take a bit of thinking over.

... (read more)

Laurie Clancy reviews 'The Summer Game' by Gideon Haigh

Laurie Clancy
Sunday, 01 February 1998

Gideon Haigh is turning into something of a one-man industry on cricket in Australia. Following highly successful books on the Packer revolution, Allan Border’s reign, and a recent defence of the Ashes, he has now turned his attention to the crucial years 1949 to 1971 when Australia went from being undisputed world champions to a side being overtaken, not merely by England but for the first time by South Africa, which would shortly be expelled because of its practice of apartheid, with the so-called Third World countries showing that they would not remain beaten for much longer. It opens, in other words, with Donald Bradman about to depart and ends with the ruthless sacking of Bill Lawry and the arrival of Ian Chappell as new captain.

... (read more)

A nation at war is a less than gripping tide, although it is suggestively ambiguous. Australia was at war in Vietnam for most of the decade covered in Peter Edwards’s book. In senses chiefly, but not wholly, metaphorical, it was also a society ‘at war’, divided over conscription and the commitment of troops to Vietnam. The excellent cover photograph illuminates the latter implication of Edwards’s title, as well as the importance of media coverage of both overseas conflict and domestic protest against it. A newsreel photographer looks back into another camera, and away from the policeman who is struggling to shift an inert demonstrator.

... (read more)

Richard Hall reviews 'Political Lives' edited by Judith Brett

Richard Hall
Saturday, 01 November 1997

The photo is opposite page eighty. I suspect from the faint fluff in the hair that it’s late 1972. It was taken in the office by a photographer from the Australian News and Information Bureau, a group who were not your art-portrait photographers. The sitting would have been over in a minute; the subject didn’t spend time posing.

... (read more)