Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

Barry Oakley

Comments from John Miller, Barry Oakley, Davd Fitzpatrick, Claire Rhoden, and Robert Wills.

... (read more)

Barry Oakley, in his brief introduction to Families: Modern Australian Short Stories, tells us that the quality he was seeking in the fiction was ‘vitality’. This seems a rather broad filter: surely all good writing must possess vitality if it is going to hold the reader’s attention? Notwithstanding, many of the stories here are good, even excellent.

... (read more)

The Best Australian Stories 2003 edited by Peter Craven & Secret Lives edited by Barry Oakley

December 2003–January 2004, no. 257

At Adelaide Writer’s Week in 2002, Drusilla Modjeska spoke about the prevalence in contemporary Australian fiction of historical subjects and distant eras; she exhorted Australian writers to consider instead the importance of addressing our own times. Much of this speech subsequently found its way into the essay ‘The Present in Fiction’, published in Modjeska’s Timepieces later the same year.

Then, last March, David Marr took up this baton and ran with it in his address to the Australian Society of Authors, ‘The Role of the Writer in John Howard’s Australia’. Contemporary Australian writers, he argued, are in the same predicament as Patrick White was in the 1950s,

As the old philistine culture of Australian politics reasserts itself. And the same way out is available to those of us who want to take it – to explore this new old Australia through writing [and] start focusing on what is happening in this country, looking Australia in the face, not flinching ... So few Australian novels – now I take my life in my hands – address in worldly, adult ways the country and the times in which we live.

... (read more)

This dainty, delicate, savage book is lovely and rare because it is truthful, vicious, brimming with the blue eyes of memory, the red eyes of defeat, the open mouth and congo drum of childhood. When Barry Oakley writes of his childhood, it is you booting him the footy of laughter.

He writes, wonderfully, sweetly, dreamily of taking his sore-footed mum and soft-drink-eyed son for the satiric day to Taronga Zoo. Among the gorillas and orchids, you watch him scribble in the light. A journalist cobber to fellow mysteries, his friends.

... (read more)

In the small hours of Saturday, 31 August, after the wind-up dinner of the Association for the Study of Australian literature in Armidale, John Hanrahan told the writer not to forget the self-portrait he had promised for Australian Book Review. The writer, at that stage somewhere between exhaustion and tranquillity, assured him it would be done soon. Later he regretted what he’d said, because, at fifty-four, he didn’t like looking at himself in mirrors. Perhaps though, if he softened the lights just a little ...

... (read more)