Macmillan

Eddie Jaku looks out benevolently from his memoir’s cover, signs of living etched across his face. The dapper centenarian displays another mark, one distinctly at odds with his beatific expression and the title’s claim: the tattoo on his forearm from Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Less discernible is the badge affixed to his lapel bearing the Hebrew word zachor; ‘remember’. The Happiest Man on Earth blazes with the pursuit of memory, of bearing witness, but it is also determinedly oriented towards the future, its dedication inscribed to ‘future generations’.

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Three recent début novels employ the genre of the Bildungsroman to explore the complexities of female experience in the recent historical past. Anna Goldsworthy, widely known and admired as a memoirist, essayist, and musician, has now added a novel, Melting Moments (Black Inc., $29.99 pb, 240 pp), to her list of achievements.

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Australians have admired distinguished actor David Gulpilil in films like Walkabout (1971), Storm Boy (1976), The Tracker (2002), and Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002). Not so many will be familiar with the details of his recent life, as related by journalist Derek Rielly. We find Gulpilil dying of lung cancer in Murray Bridge, an unprepossessing town on the lower Murray River in South Australia. He is surrounded by friends and cared for by the heroic Mary Hood, a retired nurse who has dedicated much of her life to caring for Aboriginal people in the Top End. This follows several bleak years living as a ‘long grasser’ on the fringes of Darwin and doing time in Berrimah Prison on charges of serious assault during a drunken fight.

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Edward Snowden was a model employee of the National Security Agency. After realising that the vast electronic surveillance organisation often failed to backup its advanced computerised systems properly, Snowden offered a solution. His bosses readily agreed to let him build and run a comprehensive backup system. He subsequently copied huge amounts of highly sensitive information, which he took with him when he left the NSA in 2013, aged twenty-nine, to become the most important whistleblower in intelligence agency history.

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It is sobering to think that the thousands of teenagers who in 1987 eagerly devoured John Marsden’s first novel, So Much To Tell You, and sent it and the author spinning into bestsellerdom are now in their forties – and as such, the target readership for his first adult novel, South of Darkness, a transportation saga that covers some familiar ground with a light tread.

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Having attempted to connect with the art of painting by submitting to instruction on how to represent ‘apples and bananas and pumpkins and plaster casts’, Danila Vassilieff realised ‘it was all a waste of time, it was meaningless to me … That was dead life and I wanted to paint living life, life and nature and people in action and movement.’

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What to do with Whiteley? Forget the gutsy audacity and visual energy; in Bernard Smith’s estimation he was ‘egocentric, pseudo-profound and self-pitying’ (Australian Painting 1788–2000). Smith could not abide Whiteley’s ‘incapacity for detachment’; his cult of personality, poured into every last crevice of his work. With the hegemony of the social and theoretical construction of art, the actual person of the artist has been an increasing problem for art critics. Whiteley’s work, driven by personality and fuelled by sensation, is easily viewed as a romantic indulgence.

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In 1848 Ludwig Leichhardt and half a dozen companions set out from Queensland’s Darling Downs, intending to cross the continent to the Swan River Colony in Western Australia. The entire expedition disappeared, virtually without trace. Since then at least fifteen government and private expeditions have tried to ...

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To go on thinking of the Korean War as a ‘forgotten’ war in a ‘hermit’ country, as we too often do, ignores the many authoritative accounts of it. Cameron Forbes’s new book is the latest.

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The Revolutionary Century by Alison Carroll & Every 23 Days by Sarah Bond, Alison Carroll and Claire Watson

by
November 2010, no. 326

If you were to tell me that a book had been written that covered a century of art in Asia, from 1900 to 2000, and that its geographic range moved from Japan to Pakistan and Indonesia, to Nepal, the Australian outback, and Cambodia, I would initially ask how many volumes it contained. That such a book exists, in a fairly slim volume, is tribute to the skills of its author, Alison Carroll. How has she done it?

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