The physiotherapist I saw for a pinched nerve in my back not long ago turned out to be an avid reader of fiction. She would work her way through the Booker shortlist each year. But she wouldn’t read Australian novels. As she pummelled my knotted flesh, I wondered if this was the right moment to admit that I was a person who wrote such things. She explained that, having moved to Australia from South Korea as a twelve-year-old, she had been made to write essays at school about a book called A Fortunate Life that she found as painful as I was finding her pressure on my spine.... (read more)
The reissue in one volume of three of Ruth Park’s much-loved novels The Harp in the South (1948), its sequel Poor Man’s Orange (1949), and the prequel Missus (1985) is welcome. The trilogy completes the family saga, taking the Darcy family from its emigrant beginnings in the dusty little outback towns where Hughie and Margaret meet and marry, to their life in the urban jungle of Surry Hills, then for-ward to the 1950s when the next generation prepares to leave the slums for the imagined freedom of the bush. These are Australian classics, but classics of the vernacular, of the ordinary people. They should never be allowed to disappear from public consciousness.... (read more)
Why do you write?
It’s an excuse to hang around books, which is all I’ve done, one way or another, over the course of my career.
Are you a vivid dre ...
Delights and jolts
ABR is always engaging, even when one disagrees with the thrust or standpoint of particular reviews, but surely the May issue is the most brilliant ever. An edition which has a poet (Peter Rose) reviewing David Malouf’s new novel, Brian Matthews on Henry Lawson, Elizabeth Webby on Xavier Herbert, and Robert Phiddian on Penny Gay’s monograph about Shakespearean comedies, has to be special, thoroughly deserving of the endorsements of literary luminaries with which ABR has promoted itself over the years. In fact, a writer who, as Dr Phiddian did, can use the phrase ‘industrial-strength literary-criticism’ in his first paragraph and one of my favourite words, ‘rebarbative’, in his second, has my unremitting admiration. And I haven’t yet mentioned the appearance of John Burnheim and Ian Britain on the Letters page.... (read more)
Ideal climate for writing
Climate change poses undoubted challenges for science – and society – but what exactly does the phenomenon mean for Australian cultural life? The University of Melbourne’s inaugural Festival of Ideas, June 15–20, investigates the question, with a program featuring scientists, environmentalists, archi ...