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Don Anderson

Don Anderson is the author/editor of eight books, collections of essays and reviews, and anthologies of prose, largely of texts from the Americas, Australia, and Europe. For fourteen years in the 1980s and 1990s he was a regular literary columnist in the National Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. He was for thirty years a member of the English department at the University of Sydney, where he taught American, Irish, and Australian literature, and literary theory. He was for some years a member of the Advisory Panel of ABR.

Don Anderson reviews 'The Arch-Traitor’s Lament' by Garry Satherley

October 2000, no. 225 01 October 2000
The note from Text’s publicist read: ‘Hope you enjoy this.’ I did. I did. (I read it twice.) The note continued: ‘There’s no other Australian novel quite like it.’ I couldn’t quite bring myself to agree with that. Garry Satherley’s (as in ‘satherley buster’, no doubt) first novel suggests, to my perhaps over-convoluted consciousness, Murray Bail’s Homesickness, Anthony Macris ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'My Hard Heart: Selected fiction' by Helen Garner

August 1998, no. 203 01 August 1998
‘When a woman realises that she hates Madame Bovary, darling girl, that’s when she knows she’s come of age.’ What do we talk about when we talk about Helen Garner? About her writing, that is, about such a consummate novella as The Children’s Bach, about extraordinary stories such as ‘A Vigil’, in Cosmo Cosmolino, about the eponymous ‘Postcards from Surfers’, and a dozen othe ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Warra Warra: A ghost story' by John Scott

May 2003, no. 251 01 May 2003
‘ … the dead stay everlastingly present among us, taking the form of palpable vacancies that only disappear when, as we must, we take them into ourselves.’ Harry Mathews, Cigarettes John Scott began his publishing life as a poet of considerable distinction (albeit as John A. Scott, as the second edition of The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature will not let him forget) and then ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'running with light' by Luke Davies

May 1999, no. 210 01 May 1999
Just when you have been assured, and have believed, and have claimed in print in The Sydney Morning Herald that mainstream publishers no longer bring forth volumes of verse by individual poets, along comes Allen & Unwin to confound you. Well, it is good thus to be confounded. I might not have pointed out, but the publishers remind us, over Luke Davies’ name and over his title, running with l ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Architect' by John Scott

May 2001, no. 230 01 May 2001
Is it possible to admire a novel, to have enjoyed it on both first and second readings, yet to remain unconvinced that one can with confidence say what it is about? Isn’t that rather the complex response that poetry excites? Here it might be noted that John Scott, who subtitles The Architect not ‘a novel’ but ‘a tale’, is a poet turned novelist, as is his friend David Brooks, of whose Ho ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Best Australian Essays 2001' edited by Peter Craven

June 2001, no. 231 01 June 2001
In the ‘Author’s Prologue’ to Book III of Gargantua and Pantagruel (trans. Urquhart, pub. 1693), Rabelais considers the plight of the philosopher Diogenes the Cynic at the siege of Corinth, who, prevented from action in the battle by dint of his occupation, retired towards a little hill or promontory, took his famous tub and ‘in great vehemency of spirit, did he turn it, veer it, wheel it, ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Postmodernism and Popular Culture: A cultural history' by John Docker

December 1994, no. 167 01 December 1994
Where are the studies, the seminars, the books on John Laws, one of the greatest phenomena of popular culture in Australia for more than twenty years? Michael Duffy, The Independent Monthly November 1994 They fall through your letter box thick as autumnal leaves that straw the brooks in Vallombrosa, as fast and furious as knickers fall in ‘Melrose Place’ or reputations in ‘Models Inc. ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Silence: A novel' by Don DeLillo

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
‘Literary talent,’ writes Martin Amis in his new ‘novel’, Inside Story, ‘has perhaps four or five ways of dying. Most writers simply become watery and subtly stale.’ Not so the eighty-three-year-old Don DeLillo, who has published seventeen novels over the last fifty years, all of them muscular, intelligent, prescient. In 1988, he told an interviewer from Rolling Stone, ‘I think ficti ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'A Room Made of Leaves' by Kate Grenville

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
Kate Grenville’s new novel, her first in almost a decade, is dedicated to ‘all those whose stories have been silenced’, for which, as its ‘memoirist’–narrator heroine is Elizabeth Macarthur, we might read ‘women’. Did she – wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in early Sydney – write what Grenville’s publishers call ‘a shockingly frank secret memoir’? In her ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Fable of All Our Lives' by Peter Kocan

October 2010, no. 325 01 October 2010
In or about that annus mirabilis 1968, Philip Roberts – academic, musician, poet and founder in 1970 of the poetry imprint Island Press – delivered a conference paper entitled ‘Physician Heal Thyself’, which considered eminent poets who had also been medical practitioners. (Roberts had gone from Canada to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar to study medicine, but in a Pauline moment switched to Art ... (read more)
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