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Adrian Mitchell

Adrian Mitchell is a Sydney-based reviewer.

Adrian Mitchell reviews 'The Comfort of Figs' by Simon Cleary

April 2008, no. 300 01 April 2008
In 2005 Simon Cleary was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Award for the best manuscript of an emerging Queensland author, and here it is, every bit as fresh and lyrical as the report promised. It is one of those novels that works by close-up focus on substantiating detail, leaving the main contours of the plot to emerge as they will; like a bridge, perhaps, calling attention to its line ... (read more)

Adrian Mitchell reviews 'Sea of Many Returns' by Arnold Zable

September 2008, no. 304 01 September 2008
Australia’s obsession with Greece goes back a long way; it has not always been as warm as we might like to think. The George Johnston–Charmian Clift–Sidney Nolan kind of love affair with the islands could sometimes turn a bit sour: think of Patrick White or demeaning references to the ubiquitous Olympic Café in films and stories. The temptation of writing in these well-established furrows i ... (read more)

‘The man who kept his hat on: The novels of ‘Banjo’ Paterson’ by Adrian Mitchell

April 2009, no. 310 01 April 2009
When I was a student, the professor used to say that Australian literature had no intellectual content. That was the way professors spoke back then. He might have had A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson in mind; Paterson was an enormously popular writer, who didn’t let difficult ideas get in the way. Paterson is the sort of writer who goes straight to the sentimental core of his material. He does not chas ... (read more)

Adrian Mitchell reviews 'Sunflower: A tale of love, war and intrigue' by Colin McLaren

May 2010, no. 321 01 May 2010
Colin McLaren has already published two books drawing on his own remarkable experiences as an undercover policeman – On the Run (2009) and Infiltration: The True Story of the Man Who Cracked the Mafia (2009) – the former a work of fiction, the other autobiographical. In this latest work he merges the two forms to create a biographical novel of his beloved grandfather George Bingham, who, with ... (read more)

Adrian Mitchell on Jack Thompson's recordings 'The Bush Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson', 'The Campfire Yarns of Henry Lawson', 'The Sentimental Bloke, The Poems of C.J. Dennis' and 'The Battlefield Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson'

July–August 2010, no. 323 01 July 2010
Across the decades, on both sides of the Great Divide and at campfires and barbecues, in pubs and public halls and class-rooms, ‘Banjo’ Paterson, Henry Lawson and C.J. Dennis have been recited, selectively quoted, and parodied. Their most popular works have migrated into Australian folklore; hardly surprising, as what they wrote largely derived from the tradition of bush ballads and bush yarns ... (read more)

Adrian Mitchell reviews 'Tag' by Barry Heard

July-August 2009, no. 313 01 July 2009
On the inside of the title page, we learn that this is a work of fiction to be shelved alongside other books about horse whisperers. Together with the schmaltzy subtitle, this is a less than promising start. Not that I am fundamentally opposed to animal stories. But horses? I distrust whatever parades as noble, whether beast or human. Horses are for viewing from a distance. In this novel, young T ... (read more)

Adrian Mitchell reviews 'Tense Little Lives: Uncollected prose of Ray Mathew' by Thomas Shapcott (ed.)

February 2008, no. 298 01 February 2008
If we keep hearing about our famous expatriates, the Greers and Jameses and Hugheses and the like, it is because they have made it their business to ensure we do. Gone but not forgotten. Others such as Randolph Stow or Alan Seymour were less busy at self-promotion. But Ray Mathew was a mere rumour. You saw his books here and there in the antiquarian bookshops, especially the short stories, A Bohem ... (read more)

Adrian Mitchell reviews 'The Memory Room' by Christopher Koch

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
Consider the plight of the established novelist. The readership (that’s us) comes to recognise a particular style, a particular set of themes, and presumably that is one of the reasons to go on buying the writer’s books. Should the next book always be in the same mould – in which case we might become a tad bored – or should there be something quite out of character, causing us to gasp with ... (read more)

Adrian Mitchell reviews 'The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet' by Colleen McCullough

November 2008, no. 306 01 November 2008
It is quite extraordinary how often in this country we resort to caricature in our cultural expression. Think of the hammy acting in Australian films and television, the switches in levels of reality in Patrick White’s novels and plays, the new lead William Dobell gave to modern Australian painting or Keith Looby designs for Wagner. Peter Carey has made his fortune from it; Bill Leak has made it ... (read more)