Peter Rose

January 5

Dmetri Kakmi has landed himself in hot water with his Age article on the disgraced cricket writer, Peter Roebuck, who committed suicide late last year because of his penchant for spanking African boys. The Pharisees are livid bec ...

It was David Marr who commented that the key character in Gore Vidal’s first memoir, Palimpsest (1995), was not Jimmie Trimble, the boy whom Vidal loved when they were at school and who died, aged eighteen, at the battle for Iwo Jima; nor Vidal’s blind and adored maternal grandfather, Senator Thomas Pryor Gore, whom young Gore would lead onto the floor of the Senate; nor his life partner of half a century, Howard Auster; not even the audacious and polymathic Gore himself. The star of the book was in fact Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, who was dying when Vidal began to write Palimpsest.

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Royals, it seems, have their tenacious uses, often fictive. Contemporaries such as Alan Bennett and Edward St Aubyn have deployed them. One hundred years ago, Ford Madox Ford wrote his singular trilogy (1906–08) about Katharine Howard, The Fifth Queen of Henry VIII. Now the esteemed novelist and memoirist Hilary Mantel returns to the Tudor world, again with revisionist intent.

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by Peter Rose

January 6

Such high standards the American magazines maintain, with their enviable resources. Fine valedictory article in the New Yorker by Joyce Carol Oates on the death of her husband of four decades. Slightly uneasy, though, to realise that Oates, in her forensic way, was gathering data for such an artic ...

Late afternoon. Another forty degree day.
Sick of ecological talk I decide to meet it,
take my book into the park,
not sure how far I’ll go with Against Nature.

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So Patrick White’s most flamboyant novel (with the possible exception of The Twyborn Affair) has been brought to the cinema, after the usual longueurs and fiscal frights. Director Fred Schepisi and his scriptwriter, Judy Morris, have tamed the long and somewhat unwieldy beast that won White the Nobel Prize in 1973. Lovers of the novel will miss certain sc ...

Sempre Susan by Sigrid Nunez & Swimming in a Sea of Death by David Rieff

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September 2011, no. 334

In her short memoir of Susan Sontag, novelist Sigrid Nunez claims that she did not read the obituaries and commentaries after her death in 2004, and that she was never much interested in what other people said about Sontag. If it’s true, she is indeed a rara avis. Susan Sontag, in death as in life, generates enormous interest and a growing literature, one that promises to burgeon and diversify biographically in the next decade. How long before we hear from the concierge, the oncologist, the tamer of the famous mane?

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It is a hundred years since the publication of Howards End (one of only five novels by E.M. Forster to be published during his lifetime), and longer still, or so it seems, since Lytton Strachey, his fellow Apostle, entranced the Bloomsburys in the drawing room at 46 Gordon Square by daring to utter the word ‘semen’. Virginia Woolf dated modernity from t ...

The Spare Room marks Helen Garner’s return to fiction after a long interval. Since Cosmo Cosmolino (1992), she has concentrated on non-fiction and journalism: newspaper columns and feature articles. She has speculated in public about her distance from fiction... ... (read more)