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Susan Lever

Susan Lever

Susan Lever is the author of David Foster: The Satirist of Australia (Cambria Press, 2008) and general editor of Cambria Press’s Australian Literature Series. Her most recent book is Creating Australian Television Drama: A screenwriting history (2020).

Susan Lever reviews ‘Literary Activists: Writer-Intellectuals and Australian Public Life’ By Brigid Rooney

March 2009, no. 309 01 March 2009
While rehearsing in Martin Place for the recent Sydney Festival, my daughter found herself dancing on a plinth while a heckler below chanted ‘Wanker!’ throughout. On another platform, her fellow artists, all of them performing their intricately choreographed work, endured the calls of another passer-by, ‘You’re so predictable!’ In Australia, everybody’s a critic. Brigid Rooney’s sur ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews ‘Rainforest Narratives: The Work of Janette Turner Hospital’ by David Callahan

September 2009, no. 314 01 September 2009
Janette Turner Hospital is an Australian-born novelist with an international reputation, though Australian readers often have reservations about her work. She has written some brilliant short stories, but her novels can strain for effect, with insistent intellectual allusions and postmodern shifts of fictional status. Perhaps, though, this is a typical Australian response to an expatriate writer w ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Glissando: A melodrama' by David Musgrave

June 2010, issue no. 322 01 June 2010
Patrick White got it wrong. European Australians have never been driven to find spiritual meaning through physical deprivation in the deserts of the interior. Their passion has been for housing and construction, matched by their devoted gourmandising. White declared that in Voss he was trying to teach a nation of timid city dwellers that there was more to life than material comfort and ‘cake and ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'In the New Country' and 'Studs and Nogs' by David Foster

May 1999, no. 210 01 May 1999
At the end of The Glade Within the Grove, D’Arcy D’Oliveres coughs his way towards death from lung cancer. With him dies David Foster’s benign alter ego, the narrator of his comic Dog Rock novels. Of course, the ‘Arcy who narrated The Glade had become less sociable and considerably more learned than the postman of Dog Rock, but it seemed reasonable to assume that his demise marked the end ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'The Dancer: A biography for Philippa Cullen' by Evelyn Juers

December 2021, no. 438 23 November 2021
What meaning can be drawn from an individual life? Most of us will disappear without much trace, forgotten by all but friends and family. Writers may hope for more, leaving their art behind for posterity. Performance artists, though, live their art in the moment. Philippa Cullen was a gifted dancer and choreographer who died in 1975 at twenty-five years of age. Her sudden death in India, probably ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'A Paper Inheritance: The passionate literary lives of Leslie Rees and Coralie Clarke Rees' by Dymphna Stella Rees

July 2021, no. 433 23 June 2021
Coralie Clarke Rees and Leslie Rees are not remembered among the glamour couples of twentieth-century Australian literary life. Unlike George Johnston and Charmian Clift, Vance and Nettie Palmer, or their friends Darcy Niland and Ruth Park, neither of them wrote novels and they both spread their work across a range of genres. Critics, journalists, travel writers, children’s writers, playwrights, ... (read more)

'Conference-ville' by Susan Lever

August 2001, no. 233 01 October 2001
Travelling to the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) conference on the morning tram, I marvel at Melbourne’s sophistication and self-regard. In Swanston Street, new sculptures honour John Brack’s satire of Melbourne’s regimented workers, while in front of the State Library there’s a classical portal half buried in the pavement, as if the ancient world lies below. At ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Bleak Rooms' by Peter Goldsworthy

May 1988, no. 100 01 May 1988
Peter Goldsworthy uses the short story to examine and question elements of the kind of life he leads. There is an attractive lack of pretence in his kind of story; Goldsworthy sketches social situations clearly and succinctly so that he can move on to probe the weaknesses in his characters’ otherwise complacent lives. As the back cover tells us, and the stories reveal, Goldsworthy is a medical p ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Men On Women' by Kevin Childs

October 1986, no. 85 01 October 1986
Reading Kevin Child’s book, Men on Women, creates the irresistible temptation to answer on behalf of the women. I can imagine them offering the following kind of replies to their sons and lovers: Mrs. Lurie: Morris was one of those babies who go rigid every time you pick them up for a cuddle. I felt inadequate so I scrubbed the floors. Unconditional love he wants! Who doesn’t? Sonia McMaho ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Carnival Edge: New and selected poems' by Katherine Gallagher

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
Katherine Gallagher, who has lived in London since the 1970s, has now published six books of poetry, all but two of them with British or American publishers. This book selects poems from her earlier books, together with twelve new poems. As a whole, it gives the sense of a writer’s development over a period of thirty-five years, with some slight shifts of style over that time. Gallagher has alw ... (read more)
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