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Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser was Chairperson of ABR and was for many years Editor of Eureka Street. She is currently writing a biography of the poet Peter Porter.

Morag Fraser reviews 'True Stories' by Helen Garner

April 1996, no. 179 01 April 1996
‘Curiosity is a muscle,’ Helen Garner declares in the first essay of this selection, displaying again the metaphorical spark that marks her out and keeps her readers plundering her pages. She is writing about writing, and her revelations couple a disarming intimacy – Garner the wry, lifelong apprentice, confiding trade secrets – with shrewd and reflexive moral admonition. Here, in a brief ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Why Weren't We Told?' by Henry Reynolds

July 1999, no. 212 01 July 1999
In November 1998, the Governor General, Sir William Deane, found himself in the centre of a storm over the commemoration of Australia’s Aboriginal dead. Launching historian Ken Inglis’s Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, Sir William remarked that in a country of more than 4,000 memorials there were none, at least of an official kind, to the Aborigines who had been slaugh ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'What Happens Next? Reconstructing Australia after Covid-19' edited by Emma Dawson and Janet McCalman and 'Upturn: A better normal after Covid-19' edited by Tanya Plibersek

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
What is to be done? The question is asked whenever humankind confronts a new crisis. And the answers, whether from biblical sources, Tolstoy, or Lenin (or indeed Barry Jones in his imminent book, What Is To Be Done?), must confront universal moral quandaries at the same time as they address local needs, hopes, and aspirations. Hence these two volumes of essays, compiled after Australia’s bushfi ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Secrets' by Drusilla Modjeska, Amanda Lohrey and Robert Dessaix

November 1997, no. 196 01 November 1997
Can you keep a secretI don’t suppose you canyou mustn’t laugh, you mustn’t crybut do the best you can. That old rhyme sits unpondered in the memory of every woman or man who grew up to speak English or chant it in the many incantatory rituals of childhood. It is locked in there, partnered with the rhythmic thud of a skipping rope and spirals drawn on your palm to test endurance, in the ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'The Labyrinth' by Amanda Lohrey

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
In a 1954 letter to his niece Pippa, artist-nomad Ian Fairweather lamented that he could not write with sufficient analytic detachment to look back at his life and ‘see a pattern in it’. (Ian Fairweather: A life in letters, Text Publishing, 2019). The irony – that one of Australian art’s most profound, intuitive pattern-makers should be ruefully unable to ‘see’ the formative structures ... (read more)

Sir Andrew's Messiah (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)

ABR Arts 10 December 2019
‘Sir Andrew’s Messiah’ it was: the conductor’s affectionate choice (Andrew Davis had soloed in Messiah as a boy), and his own orchestration, of Handel’s masterwork for his farewell concert as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s chief conductor. Sir Andrew, who has caught an Australian habit, will return in 2020 as Conductor Laureate. Handel (who didn’t rate a mention on the MSO’s co ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Ian Fairweather: A life in letters' edited by Claire Roberts and John Thompson

November 2019, no. 416 23 October 2019
Artist, hermit, instinctive communicator, a nomad who built studio nests for himself all over the globe, Ian Fairweather is a consistent paradox – and an enduring one. In an art world of fragile and fluctuating reputations, his work retains the esteem with which it was received – by his peers – when he landed in Australia in 1934 and, with their help, exhibited almost immediately. His w ... (read more)

La Trobe University Essay | 'On September 11' by Morag Fraser

September 2002, no. 244 01 September 2002
Primo Levi, in two interviews given almost twenty years ago*, set a standard of critical sympathy that is not only exemplary, but peculiarly apt to the fraught debate about the post-September 11 world and the USA’s place and reputation within it. Levi was talking about Israel. The interviews were published in the aftermath of the Phalangist attacks on Sabra and Shatila. The horror of the killin ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'In Denial: The Stolen Generations and the Right' (Quarterly Essay 1) by Robert Manne

May 2001, no. 230 01 May 2001
Much current debate on crucial issues facing Australia – the economy, race relations, foreign affairs, for example – is conducted in the opinion pages of metropolitan daily newspapers. And ‘opinion’ pages they now are – with a vengeance. It is a symptom of the times that opinion-page editors have less and less recourse to disinterested authorities (do they no longer believe such exist?). ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the margin of my time' by Clive James

July–August 2007, no. 293 01 July 2007
A writer leaves you with everything to say. It is in the nature of his medium to start a conversation within you that will not stop until your death … Conversation is the raison d’être of this monumental monologue. But you might not think so if you read only the reviews. Splenetic, greensick criticism – and there has been plenty of it – insists that what Clive James has built out of ... (read more)