Graham Seal, author of this invaluable new survey of Australian folklore, hopes this book will ‘explode the pernicious and persistent myth that Australia has no folklore’, a cultural lie he illustrates on the opening page by trotting out a familiar scapegoat in the form of a visiting Englishman carping about the lack of folksong in this country. This seems to me to base the book on an unnecessary and even false premise. Most Australians, I would have thought, are aware either consciously or subconsciously of a national body of folklore – it’s just that assiduous nationalists have hacked away the corpus by single-mindedly promoting the paraphernalia of the bush mythology: the pioneers, the bushrangers, the heroes and anti-heroes of sport and war.... (read more)
Vietnam, of all the foreign conflicts in which Australians have been involved, most outgrew and out lived its military dimension. The ghosts of what Christopher J. Koch in this new novel calls ‘that long and bitter saga’ continue to haunt the lives (and the politics) of the generations of men and women who lived through it ...... (read more)
Robin Gerster reviews Postcolonial Heritage and Settler Well-Being: The historical fictions of Roger Mcdonald by Christopher Lee
Though he had already produced two volumes of poetry, Roger McDonald first came to popular attention with his spectacular début novel, 1915, published in 1979. A recreation of the Gallipoli Campaign from the points of view of two ...... (read more)
Contemporary Australian fiction continues to lean on the national past. Perhaps that’s a comment on the present, or the future, for that matter. It seems to be not so much a matter of the past being experientially ‘another country’, but a more engaging version of the literal one ...
It’s virtually axiomatic: ‘war can fuck you up’. This pithy observation, made by a veteran in The War Artist, Simon Cleary’s new novel about the travails of an Australian soldier during and after a tour of Afghanistan, goes to the heart of what we now understand about the impact of battle and its psychological aftershocks ...... (read more)
'Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier.’ Samuel Johnson’s aphorism was commended to me many years ago by Peter Ryan, then the long-serving publisher at Melbourne University Press. The author of a superb personal account of his war experience ...... (read more)
‘Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam, we’ve all been there.’ The American reporter Michael Herr thus concluded his celebrated work Dispatches (1977), confident that his readers understood what he meant, even if most of them had never set foot in the country. The very word possessed an almost incantatory power. In the United States, as in Australia, opposition to ...
You have to admire the professional writer who describes the chore of churning out the daily ration of words as 'like straining shit through a sock', ...... (read more)