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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 Body in the Clouds' by Ashley Hay

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
The Body in the Clouds, Ashley Hay’s scintillating and accomplished first novel, is in fact her fifth book, its predecessors all being non-fiction. There was the Lord Byron book, The Secret: The Strange Marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron (2000), Gum: The story of eucalypts and their champions (2002), Herbarium (2004) and Museum: The Macleays, their collections and the search for order ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'A Christina Stead Reader' selected by Jean B. Read

July 1982, no. 42 01 July 1982
From August 1978 through January 1979 I read the complete fiction of Christina Stead, as well as those of her critical writings I could locate. A writing career of more than forty years consumed by a voracious reader in six months! I trust that I was as scrupulous and sympathetic a reader as Christina Stead is an ethically and technically scrupulous, sympathetic novelist. I read this commanding b ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Sorry for Your Trouble' by Richard Ford

August 2020, no. 423 24 July 2020
Richard Ford, born in 1944, is a North American novelist, short story writer, and anthologist of considerable distinction. His recurring character Frank Bascombe – The Sportswriter (1986), Independence Day (1995), The Lay of the Land (2006), Let Me Be Frank with You (2014) – is a commanding figure of American letters to rank with John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom, each a protagonist used by his ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Expressway' edited by Helen Daniel

August 1989, no. 113 01 August 1989
Prelude From this I shall evolve a man.This is his essence: the old fantoche Hanging his shawl upon the wind,Like something on the stage, puffed out, His strutting studied through the centuries.At last, in spite of his manner, his eye A-cock at the cross-piece on a poleSupporting heavy cables, slung Through Oxidia, banal suburb …Professor Eucalyptus responds to the host. If the proof o ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Before I Wake' by John Scott

July 1996, no. 182 01 July 1996
As for this letter you describe – so explicit, so extreme, that at the moment of its first description the reader might ejaculate across its pages-is it not the condition to which all writing has aspired? Demanding that admission of desire (no matter how unlikely, how unspeakable), an honesty, so absolute it would produce a masterpiece. John A. Scott, What I Have Written   A masculin ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'I'm Dying Laughing' by Christina Stead

July 1987, no. 92 01 July 1987
There has been altogether too much talk recently about literature and bliss, and not enough about sadness. Think of the gloom that descends when you have read all the works of a beloved author, and no fresh fields and pastures new remain. Years ago, I suffered this depression after reading all the works of William Faulkner. There was a brief respite when Flags in the Dust, an ur-version of Sartori ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Idea of Perfection' by Kate Grenville

September 1999, no. 214 01 September 1999
‘Few evade full measure of their fate.’ Hart Crane, ‘The Bridge’   Just before the publication of her novel Dark Places in 1994, Kate Grenville said that she was thinking about her next book, ‘a heart-warming old-fashioned love story’. Well, The Idea of Perfection – and isn’t that what all love stories are about? – is that love story, though it warms both heart and head, ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Prosperous Thief' by Andrea Goldsmith

November 2002, no. 246 01 November 2002
‘History always emphasises terminal events,’ Albert Speer observed bitterly to his American interrogators just after the end of the war, according to Antony Beevor in Berlin: The Downfall 1945 (2002). Few events in recent history were more terminal than the Holocaust, it might be urged. Yet the singularity of that ‘terminus’ has been questioned in recent years. Is it, however, perilous for ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Reliable Essays: The best of Clive James' and 'Even As We Speak: New essays 1993–2001' by Clive James

October 2001, no. 235 01 October 2001
Clive James needs no introduction, though he asked Julian Barnes to provide one for Reliable Essays, a selection from three decades of James’s literary journalism made by his publisher, Peter Straus. The Kid from Kogarah is, as The New Yorker once famously observed, ‘a brilliant bunch of guys’: literary essayist (his ‘best work’, Barnes insists), television critic, poet, novelist, autobi ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'N' by John A. Scott

June–July 2014, no. 362 27 May 2014
The last words of the endnotes to John A. Scott’s most recent novel – earlier ones have won the Victorian Premier’s prize for fiction and been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award – and thus the last words of this book, if we exclude back-cover plaudits, read: ‘An additional narrative strand, chronicling the history of Surrealist André Breton in Melbourne, 1952, omitted from this ve ... (read more)
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