Archive

Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'Madame Lash' by Sam Everingham

Jay Daniel Thompson
Friday, 07 August 2020

Madam Lash is a biography of Australia’s most famous dominatrix. Author Sam Everingham provides an engaging insight into the life of the woman who helped bring sadomasochism to mainstream attention in this country.

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Jay Daniel Thompson reviews 'By the Balls' by Les Murray

Jay Daniel Thompson
Friday, 07 August 2020

IBy the Balls opens in the 1950s, when young Laszlo Urge and his family were forced to leave Stalinist Hungary and head to Australia. Laszlo was shocked to find his new country to be a ‘dry and colourless’ place where soccer (which he refers to as ‘football’) was unpopular. However, this situation was to change. In the following decades, Laszlo became ‘Les Murray’, a popular television sports commentator who has publicly championed his favourite game.

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This novel raises more interesting questions about its author than about its characters and action.

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These two books share common assumptions about the nature of our cities and our collective future as homo urbanis. If we are to survive the impending disaster of climate change and build an environmentally durable and socially just future, then we must do so within our existing, sprawling suburban landscapes. Gleeson and Mees know and respect one another’s work – each quotes the other approvingly – but the two authors diverge sharply in tone and intention.

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I had fun imagining Sonya Hartnett and Isobelle Carmody indulging in a little pre-publication chit-chat:

IC: What are you working on now, Sonya?
SH: A children’s story about two orphaned brothers battling for survival in a world turned upside down; talking animals; themes of freedom and loss. What about you?
IC: A children’s story about two orphaned brothers struggling for survival in a world suddenly turned alien; talking animals; themes of resilience and loss …

The result is two different novels, but the marketing meetings at Penguin must have been interesting.

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Mark Gomes reviews 'The Boys' by Andrew Frost

Mark Gomes
Friday, 31 July 2020

Suburban crime narratives featured in many Australian films in the 1990s, partly due to the influence of director Rowan Woods’s film The Boys, which drew inspiration from the ‘kitchen sink’ cinema of 1960s Britain. Twelve years after its theatrical release, this seminal film – based on the play by Gordon Graham and written for the screen by Stephen Sewell – remains the best example of an Australian genre that illustrates Marcus Clarke’s conception of ‘weird melancholy’ in the criminal element of our cities’ troubled underclass.

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In August 1998 former ABC journalist Mary Delahunty won the by-election for the Victorian seat of Northcote. One year later, after Steve Bracks audaciously nabbed the premier’s crown from an unsuspecting Jeff Kennett, Delahunty found herself in charge of the education and arts portfolios. Her learning curve was steep. ‘If the chook shed was for parliamentary incubation then the dungeon provided sparse and smelly cells for the discipline of ministerial office,’ she writes in her new book, Public Life, Private Grief.

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Macmillan’s Albert Tucker is a pioneering venture. It is not just another well-arranged, well-printed collection of paintings by a notable painter, it is an endeavour to present the whole conspectus of a painter’s work and mind.

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John Hirst is a distinctive figure in Australian intellectual life. As an academic, he has had a distinguished career at La Trobe University in teaching, supervision, and research. He developed new subjects and methodologies with which to teach them. In addition to those concerning Australian history, there was his pioneering subject designed to inform students about Australia’s European cultural heritage, with some of the lectures recently published as The Shortest History of Europe (2009).

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Warren Osmond reviews 'Trial Balance' by H.C. Coombs

Warren Osmond
Friday, 31 July 2020

In the Australian administrative tradition, Dr H.C. Coombs is a remarkable survivor, a maximalist and an innovator, not least in his· preparedness to write in public. The key figure in the Post-War Reconstruction brains trust which flourished under Curtin, Chifley and Dedman in the 1940s, he became Governor of the Commonwealth and then the Reserve Bank for twenty years and then entered a new creative phase in the post-Menzies and the Whitlam years.

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