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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 Following' by Roger McDonald

October 2013, no. 355 27 September 2013
Towards the end of Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift (1975), at the poet Von Humboldt Fleisher’s funeral on an April day in Chicago, Menasha Klinger, one of three mourners, points to a spring flower and asks Charlie Citrine, the novel’s narrator, to identify it. ‘Search me,’ Citrine replies, ‘I’m a city boy myself. They must be crocuses.’ This exchange has stayed with me for some thi ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'A World of Other People' by Steven Carroll

April 2013, no. 350 25 March 2013
Novels have been appearing in the last decade or so in which one or more of the characters are actual historical figures, often themselves writers, appearing in propria persona, not considerately disguised and renamed, as Horace Skimpole was in Bleak House, for example. Perhaps the most notorious instance in recent years is Virginia Woolf in Michael Cunningham’s The Hours (1998), made even more ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Lost Voices' by Christopher Koch

December 2012–January 2013, no. 347 29 November 2012
‘There is another world, but it is in this one.’ That is Paul Éluard, channelled by Patrick White as one of four epigraphs to The Solid Mandala (1966), a ‘doubleman’ of a novel avant la lettre.Other quotations appended to this story of Waldo and Arthur Brown are taken from Meister Eckhart (‘It is not outside, it is inside: wholly within’) and Patrick Anderson (‘… yet still I long ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Alfred Kazin: A Biography' and 'Alfred Kazin’s Journals' by Richard M. Cook

April 2012, no. 340 01 April 2012
If his biographer and editor of his Journals is to be believed, by the early 1960s the Brooklyn-born Alfred Kazin was ‘arguably the most sought-after and widely published critic’ in the United States. Kazin (1915–98) claimed that 1956–61 was ‘the greatest period in my life’. Having returned from a teaching post in Amherst to New York City, he succeeded in making a living as a freelance ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Hergesheimer Hangs In' by Morris Lurie

November 2011, no. 336 25 October 2011
‘A writer is writing even when he’s not writing, maybe even more then, even if he never writes again. Got it? Class dismissed.’ (Morris Lurie, ‘On Not Writing’, in Hergesheimer Hangs In) In Wild & Woolley: A Publishing Memoir (2011), Michael Wilding recalls: ‘Morris Lurie sent us a collection, too. I think if he had sent it eighteen months later I would have published it. But when ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Street Sweeper' by Elliot Perlman

October 2011, no. 335 27 September 2011
In 2003, the year in which Elliot Perlman’s previous novel Seven Types of Ambiguity was published, the eminent gadfly David Marr suggested that Australian novelists failed to address major contemporary social concerns. As if anticipating Marr’s criticisms, Perlman wove a plot that involved stock market speculation (and peculation), upmarket Melbourne brothels, privatised prisons, privately man ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Chase' by Christopher Kremmer

September 2011, no. 334 23 August 2011
Australians are suckers for a day at the races, and may be suckers for novels and poems about a day at the races. Consider Gerald Murnane’s metaphysics of racing, Peter Temple’s grim Melbourne in which stresses are relieved by a bottle of Bolly or some such beverage after a successful day at the track. The term ‘Turf’ is granted three-and-a-half columns in the 1985 edition of the Oxford Co ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Simple Death' by Michael Duffy

March 2011, no. 329 14 April 2011
Michael Duffy, perhaps best known as a newspaper columnist and contrarian, and co-presenter with Paul Comrie-Thomson of ABC Radio National’s conservative corrective Counterpoint, has also been an editor, notably of the Independent Monthly (1993–96), and a publisher. In 1996 he set up his own company, Duffy & Snellgrove, which mainly produced serious non-fiction books, but also John Birming ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Finkler Question' by Howard Jacobson

December 2010–January 2011, no. 327 07 December 2010
The Finkler Question (ðəfiŋkl kwest∫ən) n. (after Samuel Ezra [‘Sam’] Finkler). Before he met Finkler, Treslove had never met a Jew … If this was what all Jews looked like, Treslove thought, then Finkler, which sounded like Sprinkler, was a better name for them than Jews. So that was what he called them privately – Finklers … Finkler opened wide his arms Finklerishly … It was ... (read more)
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