In this issue, Hugh Mackay replies to Richard Hall’s essay in last month’s issue and his reply is printed here in full, unedited, at his insistence – which was communicated to me by his lawyers. As a matter of principle, of course, ABR offers right of reply, which is indeed a regular feature of the magazine, most commonly through the letters to the editor. On this occasion, given Hugh Mackay’s insistence, ABR includes his 3,300-word reply as a special feature.
In his reply, which he calls a ‘rebuttal’, Hugh Mackay points out that The Mackay Reports are not ‘books’ and therefore wonders ‘why they got a run in ABR’. I am interested that Hugh Mackay appears puzzled that matters not in ‘book’ form should come into the domain of ABR.... (read more)
Double Agent: David Ireland and his work by Helen Daniel
Millennium: Time-pieces by Australian writers by Helen Daniel
An occasion like this teaches us that we each have our own Helen Daniel. I met my Helen nearly ten years ago, appropriately through writing. I had written a book on the Aztecs of Mexico. It was primarily an academic book, but because it was published by a university press with a branch here, and because Aztecs are Aztecs, it was widely reviewed in this country. The material was esoteric and its interpretation involved some complicated talk about theoretical issues in anthropology and history, so I was relieved when the local reviews were kind. Nevertheless, I read them with mixed feelings: how was it possible for people to understand the same printed pages so variously?... (read more)
Helen Daniel, the editor of Australian Book Review since 1995, died suddenly on Monday, 16 October 2000. Her death has sent waves of shock and sorrow throughout the Australian literary world. According to Andrew Riemer, at the Writers’ Week in Brisbane, held on the weekend after Helen’s death, session after session paid homage to this woman who, without vanity or arrogation, had made her name synonymous with the profession and apprehension of Australian literature.
Her death diminishes all of us. It’s strange to reflect that Helen, who occupied her position so quietly (at times so stoically) was in fact far and away the greatest champion for Australian writing in her generation and that her time as a critic and editor coincided with the great efflorescence of Australian publishing that we now wonder at and ponder.... (read more)
Cosy was the word Cassandra Pybus preferred when asked if Australian reviewing is too bland – the topic of this month’s symposium. Something intimate and specially friendly. In identifying the cosiness of some Australian reviewing, Pybus makes a telling point, if droll, certainly not excluding ABR from the offenders. I have to say that among the other responses were some that were bland, in a way that made me feel I have proved my point.... (read more)
There are many competitions for short story writing in Australia but few for reviewing. Indeed the Geraldine Pascall Prize is the only one that comes to mind, which was fust won by Marion Halligan, regular reviewer for The Canberra Times and ABR, and, more recently, was won by Andrew Riemer, lead reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald and regular reviewer for ABR. The Pascall Prize is awarded by a panel of judges who consider the published reviews of candidates, so is awarded for body of work and overall contribution to the reviewing world.... (read more)
Recently I have had a number of enquiries from readers who want to submit books for review hand the enquiries came from people unfamiliar with the reviewing process. So for those readers who are unfamiliar with the reviewing process, a few words about it.... (read more)
Last month’s editorial on reviewing and its ailments in Australia seems to have touched a few raw nerves. Various reviewers have enquired nervously about whether I was referring to them, for instance. On the other hand, as a result of the editorial, I have held a number of valuable conversations about the state of reviewing in Australia. Alas this is not reflected in the Letters pages of this issue. It seems with such a long break between the December/January issue and the February/March issue, the letter writers think of other things. Letters in this issue are few, fewer than any issue for several years.... (read more)