Accessibility Tools

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

Frank Moorhouse

Near the end of this biography of Frank Moorhouse, author Catharine Lumby tells a story that will strike retrospective fear into the heart of any male reader who has ever climbed a tree. Watching an outdoor ceremony in which a cohort of Cub Scouts was being initiated into the Boy Scout troop to which he belonged himself, and having climbed a tree to get a better view, the young Moorhouse ‘slipped, and he slid a couple of metres down the trunk of the tree with his legs wrapped around it. He came to rest on a jagged branch, his crotch caught in the fork.’

... (read more)

This sixth work of fiction by Frank Moorhouse consists of four groups of related stories. The first and by far the best group, ‘Pacific City’, contains six stories centred around the figure of Irving Bow, proprietor of a cinema located near an unbuilt town named Pacific City during the late nineteen-twenties (not the nineteen-thirties as the back cover claims).

... (read more)

Frank Moorhouse, one of Australia’s most prolific and loved authors, essayists, and public intellectuals, died aged eighty-three on 26 June. Moorhouse left a legacy of eighteen fiction and non-fiction books, a series of screenplays, and countless essays. He was also a tireless activist on a range of fronts, including opposing censorship and promoting copyright law reform.

... (read more)

The Drover's Wife edited by Frank Moorhouse

by
March 2018, no. 399

In this collection of more than thirty pieces of fiction, journalism, criticism, academic papers, and ephemera (acceptance speeches, parliamentary questions, university course outlines), Frank Moorhouse gives evidence of, and attempts to explain, the durability of Henry Lawson’s classic short story ‘The Drover’s Wife’ in ...

... (read more)

Operating in the shadows, security agencies usually have indifferent reputations. Their very nature prevents them from fully explaining themselves. At least some of their activities, if exposed to full scrutiny, would not enhance their reputations. There is a need for security agencies, yet the nature and scope of their role, powers, and responsibilities are contest ...

Storytelling in all its forms is one way of having something curious, strange, and comforting to say to others and ourselves when we are faced with the malaise of the real.

... (read more)

Admirers of the first two volumes in Frank Moorhouse’s ‘Edith Trilogy’, Grand Days (1993) and Dark Palace (2000), will remember the gripping and heartbreaking scene at the end of Dark Palace in which Edith Campbell Berry, her British husband, Ambrose, and several of their senior colleagues are humiliatingly informed, in the cruellest possible way, that after two decades of hard work for the now-defunct League of Nations, their presence is neither required nor welcome in the ranks of the new United Nations.

... (read more)

Oxford traveller

Dear Editor,

In his ‘Diary’ in the March 2007 issue of ABR, Chris Wallace-Crabbe tells us that he’s been reading Ulysses and War and Peace (‘alternately’) as he travels to Oxford. Then, out of the blue, he adds: ‘Meanwhile, Ken Gelder has written the most appalling attack on literature, and especially on the concept of style, in the latest Overland. His anti-aesthetic position is, of course, indistinguishable from that of John Howard and the right-wing philistines. It has been so for a long time: the right and the far-left in materialist cahoots.’ My Overland essay was a criticism of Tory literary tastes and positions in Australia, including the disdain some writers have for readerships. Only a blinkered literary snob could construe this as an ‘attack on literature’. I found Wallace-Crabbe’s insulting remarks utterly perplexing. For example, what does he mean by ‘the concept of style’? Whose concept? I have no idea. What does he mean by ‘anti-aesthetic’? The term used to be used by postmodernists, but he also attributes it to John Howard – a point which seems to fly in the face of reality.

... (read more)

When Frank Moorhouse took over the editorship of The Best Australian Stories in 2004, he promptly announced that he would be accepting submissions from anyone, regardless of whether they had a publishing history or not. He received and read, by his own estimate, about 1000 stories and gave six unknown writers the chance to be published for the first time. To his credit, he also took it upon himself not only to talk up the edition, but to make the case for the importance of the short story as a distinct literary form – one that is often underappreciated. There was no doubting Moorhouse’s enthusiasm for his new role. Having read the work of around 600 writers, he could claim with some authority that short fiction was thriving, despite limited opportunities for publication. Indeed, the 2004 edition, he boasted, ‘set a new benchmark in the standard of the short story’. Now steady on, Frank.

... (read more)

In a recent feature article in the Guardian Review, William Boyd proposed a new system for the classification of short stories. He constructed seven stringently categorical descriptions and ended his article with a somewhat predictable – that is to say, canonical – list of ‘ten truly great stories’, among which were James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’, Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Spring at Fialta’ and Jorge Luis Borges’s ‘Funes the Memorious’. Most of the writers cited were male, and the classifications were confident demarcations in terms of genre and mode (‘modernist’, ‘biographical’). It is difficult to know, and no doubt presumptuous to speculate, what Boyd would make of Frank Moorhouse’s edited collection The Best Australian Stories 2004. Garnering them ‘at large’ by advertisement and word of mouth, Moorhouse received one thousand stories, from which he selected ‘intriguing and venturesome’ texts, many of which display ‘innovations’ of form. Of the twenty-seven included, six are by first-time published writers and twenty are by women. This is thus an open, heterodox and explorative volume, unlike its four predecessors in this series in reach and inclusiveness. It is also, perhaps, more uneven in quality: a few stories in this selection are rather slight; and the decision to include two stories by two of the writers may seem problematic, given the large number of submissions and the fact that the editor claims there were fifty works fine enough to warrant publication. A character in one of the stories favourably esteems the fiction of Frank Moorhouse over that of David Malouf: this too may be regarded as a partisan inclusion.

... (read more)
Page 1 of 2