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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.

Handel’s Messiah (Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra)

ABR Arts 17 December 2014
The huge Town Hall crowd who surged to their feet to applaud – and go on applauding – the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic’s twilight performance of Messiah did not do so ‘like sheep’, nor like a last-night-at-the-Proms booster crowd. Their gesture had more in common with King George II’s reputed rising in glad awe for the Hallelujah Chorus during the London première of Messiah in 1743. ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Stone Mattress: Nine tales' by Margaret Atwood

November 2014, no. 366 01 November 2014
One swallow doesn’t make a summer, as the stark proverb cautions, but a cockatoo flocking of short stories suggests that the form is perhaps enjoying a revival – and the publishing industry has seized an opportunity. As it should. In 2013, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature, lauded as ‘the master of the contemporary short story’. Edna O’Brien’s The Love Object appeared in ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Country Girl' and 'The Love Object' by Edna O'Brien

April 2014, no. 360 26 March 2014
In the 1960s she was deemed an Irish Jezebel. After the publication of her début novel, The Country Girls (1960), the local postmistress told her father that a fitting punishment would be for her to be kicked naked through the town. Now, a half century later, her litterateur countryman John Banville has introduced Edna O’Brien’s Collected Stories with unalloyed tribute: ‘She is, simply, on ... (read more)

Sweet honey and guns

March 2014, no. 359 26 February 2014
Indiana’s State Route 67 is a highway straight out of Alfred Hitchcock, an open-skied strip through flat country, bordered by desultory malls, a ‘drive-thru’ Taco Bill, a county jail and sheriff’s department, a pedimented Walgreens and – most intriguing – the Mooresville ‘Lost Inn Motel’, and the ‘Lost Name Steak-house and Saloon’. (Google risks no tariff information for t ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'The Accursed' by Joyce Carol Oates

July–August 2013, no. 353 25 June 2013
If, hardy reader, you make it through the 667 pages of Joyce Carol Oates’s The Accursed, you will see, on page 669, that she prefaces her acknowledgments with this gnomic utterance: ‘The truths of Fiction reside in metaphor; but metaphor is here generated by History.’ I’m not sure that I get Oates’s gist exactly, and those striding allegorical capitals (Fiction, History) don’t help, b ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'The Childhood of Jesus' by J.M. Coetzee and 'The Round House' by Louise Erdrich

March 2013, no. 349 09 March 2013
‘What is chaos?’ asks the unnerving child at the centre of J.M. Coetzee’s new parable-novel, The Childhood of Jesus. ‘I told you the other day,’ replies the child’s guardian. ‘Chaos is when there is no order, no laws to hold on to. Chaos is just things whirling around.’ Louise Erdrich’s The Round House begins with a lyrical intimation of chaos, of nature whirling, malevolently. ... (read more)

'Signs and portents: The outlook for America in Obama’s second term' by Morag Fraser

February 2013, no. 348 31 January 2013
November in America signals a time to gather in, take stock and breathe a little. The elections are done by the end of the first week. Thanksgiving beckons, the high holidays begin, media fever subsides – a little – and morphs into retrospective political analysis and projected anxiety about the future, especially, since 2008, the economic future. It is a pattern I’ve seen repeated over and ... (read more)


February 2013, no. 348 30 January 2013
The Academy Award season is so given to hyperbole that it was a relief to read one critic not starry-eyed about Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. Rex Reed, in the New York Observer, criticised the film for having ‘too much material, too little revelation and almost nothing of Spielberg’s reliable cinematic flair’. I don’t agree for a moment, but Reed’s comment is an interesting pointer to th ... (read more)

'Fear and loathing in American politics' by Morag Fraser

February 2012, no. 338 23 January 2012
The Princeton Post Office, as befits this famed university town, has a certain grandeur. It is small – Princeton is a village after all – and modest in its proportions, but grand in aspiration. As you step through its panelled doors your gaze is drawn by the long parade of milk-glass and bronze lights towards the mural that adorns the far wall. Like the White House murals, it is lofty, but alm ... (read more)