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Barry Andrews

The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (Second Edition) edited by William H. Wilde, Joy Hooton, and Barry Andrews

December 1994, no. 167

‘Those bastards at Oxford,’ Barry Andrews fulminated ten years ago (he had in mind one or two in particular) ‘are trying to make us cut 200,000 words from the book!’ The ‘book’ was the first edition of the estimable The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature. The ‘bastards’ had miscounted and the text survived more or less in full. Now, nine years after its first publication, the Companion has appeared in a revised edition with an extra 200,000 words, not there by way of compensation, but rather to cope with the brilliantly successful publicity campaign for Australian writing during the last decade. Bill Wilde and Joy Hooton remain as editors, Barry having died in 1987.

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I write this review the day after the Fifth Test. Australia has finally won one. I personally wouldn’t give two squirts of goat shit for the Australian selectors but this time they can tell us what to do with our cricket bats. Peter Taylor has taken six for and two for, batted with determination, and won the man of the match. (A shocking decision, by the way. It was Jones, then daylight, then Taylor and Emburey, and I don’t like Victorian batsmen and Poms who played in South Africa.) Twelfth man for Australia was Greg Matthews, who bowls off-spin and bats with determination. Like Taylor, whom Matthews would no doubt call ‘the man’ at the moment. Does this mean Matthews is on the way out, and that Roland Fishman’s mid-career biography, Greg Matthews: The Spirit of Modern Cricket, is one of the sillier Penguins, a book destined to become as popular as Andrew Jones’s autobiography? (Remember Andrew Jones, the oncer in the federal parliament in the mid-sixties? The relevant tome used to be on sale at Mary Martin’s at ten cents, two copies five cents …)

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The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature edited by William H. Wilde, Joy Hooton, and Barry Andrews

December 1985–January 1986, no. 77

This is a splendid book, by far the most important of the recent OUP contributions to the study of Australian literature. Everything that you ever wanted to know about Australian Literature. Comprehensive (amazingly), consistently lively, up to date, as far as I can judge, accurate.

I have played the usual reviewers’ game for a book like this – trying to ...