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Michael McGirr

Michael McGirr

Michael McGirr is the Dean of Faith at St Kevin’s College in Melbourne, a school that was started by the Christian Brothers. His most recent book is Ideas to Save Your Life (Text Publishing, 2021).

Michael McGirr reviews 'The Case for Cannabis' by Pauline Reilly

December 2001–January 2002, no. 237 01 December 2001
This is a book about pain. In December 1999, Arthur Reilly was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. The methods of relief offered to him, principally morphine, had drastic side-effects which undermined what pleasure he might have found in living. For four months, he lost weight and showed little interest in his usual activities. He became depressed and contemplated suicide. ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'Burke's Soldier' by Alan Attwood

May 2003, no. 251 01 May 2003
After Ned Kelly, the story of Burke and Wills ranks high among Australians’ favourite tales of heroic failure. Simpson and his donkey are on the list, followed closely by any number of stories from the locker rooms of sporting clubs both great and small. There are strict conventions governing the telling of these stories. However pointless, futile, and even bloody they may have been, they are ha ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'Intellectuals and Publics' by Paolo Bartolini, Karen Lynch, and Shane Kendal

December 1997–January 1998, no. 197 01 December 1997
About ten years ago, the British writer, Paul Johnson, published a book called Intellectuals. He had evidently formed a low impression of the species. If you look up ‘intellectual’ in the index you won’t find a list of learned personalities, nor of publications, nor of universities or academic societies. Instead you’ll find references to aggressiveness, violence, cowardice, cruelty, dish ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'Apollo and Thelma: A true tall tale' by Jon Faine

August 2022, no. 445 28 July 2022
A lesser writer than Jon Faine would have found many more cheap laughs in this extraordinary story. One of the two central characters, Paul Alexander McPherson Anderson, was better known as The Mighty Apollo. In what feels like a bygone age, he was the proprietor of The Mighty Apollo Martial Arts centre in West Melbourne. He lived there in spartan quarters, above a panel beater. His modest circum ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'Bearbrass: Imagining early Melbourne' by Robyn Annear

May 1995, no. 170 01 May 1995
Some time ago, I was curious about steam cars and found an advertisement, dating from the 1920s, for the sole Victorian distributor of the Stanley Steamer. The address was Flinders Lane, the street in Melbourne which exudes more personality than most of the others combined. I discovered that the building in question had been turned into a printshop. But its origins as a motor garage were obvious. ... (read more)

'Letter from Gunning' by Michael McGirr

April 2001, no. 229 01 April 2001
Few people come to Gunning, NSW, population 530, for something to read. Before 1993, people came because they couldn’t avoid it. The Hume Highway used to bring 3000 semitrailers a day along the main street. ‘At least you got to read the bumper stickers,’ one resident said when I moved here’. Because it was sure as hell impossible to talk.’ The local real estate agent tells me that, when ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'This Is For You' by Michael Wilding

October 1994, no. 165 01 October 1994
These twenty-one stories have a pedigree; according to the customary list of acknowledgments, they have had a previous life littered across no fewer than twenty-six books, magazines, and journals, some of whose names are unfamiliar even to my local newsagent. I’m not sure these days if places of publication should properly be called ‘sites’, ‘topoi’, or ‘venues’. Such is the prevalen ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'The Well at the World’s End' by A.J. Mackinnon

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
The pretext of this book is as simple as it is delightful. In 1982, at the ripe old age of nineteen, Sandy Mackinnon found himself on the windswept island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland. Iona is one of those places, familiar in the world of spiritual tourism, that is layered in irony. In ancient times it became home to a community of monks, most notably St Columba, for the simple reason t ... (read more)

Michael McGirr reviews 'King of the Air: The turbulent life of Charles Kingsford Smith' by Ann Blainey

June–July 2019, no. 412 23 May 2019
People spent a lot of time looking for the pioneering aviator Charles Kingsford Smith. When he disappeared for the final time in 1935 just south of Myanmar, then known as Burma, he was just thirty-eight but felt ancient. Hopeful rescuers came from far and wide, but their efforts were not rewarded. Ann Blainey remarks wryly that one day the Andaman Sea may ‘give up its secret’, but, until then, ... (read more)
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