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Scribe Publications

Aldous Huxley often prioritised the expression of themes and ideas over the development of character and plot in his fiction. Ape and Essence (1948), one of his less well-known novellas, was no exception, but it was also funny and thought-provoking. The Island of Four Rivers, by Christopher Morgan, has none of these redeeming features.

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Diamond Dove by Adrian Hyland & The Cobbler's Apprentice by Sandy McCutcheon

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December 2006–January 2007, no. 287

Adrian Hyland spent many years living and working among indigenous people in the Northern Territory. His affection for and affinity with the people and the country are immediately evident. But whatever possessed him, in his first novel, to write in the voice of a young, half-Aboriginal woman? It is a testament to his skill and finely balanced writing that more has not been made of this fact, and that the reception to his novel has been mostly positive.

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The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery & Living In The Hothouse by Ian Lowe

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December 2005–January 2006, no. 277

The former co-chair of scientific assessment for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), John Houghton, declared in 2003 that global warming is a weapon of mass destruction that is at least as dangerous as chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and, indeed, terrorism. It is therefore no small irony that two prominent members of the ‘coalition of the willing’ and the world’s two highest per capita carbon emitters – the US and Australia – should choose to devote so many resources to eradicating conventional WMDs, yet do so little to address global warming. Australia’s stance on climate change is logic-defying, unprincipled and lacking in remorse. The Howard government has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because of the short-term economic costs to Australia, but it claims that Australia will seek to meet its Kyoto target anyway. But Australia’s Kyoto target is so generous relative to other developed countries that it does not have to do much to meet it.

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Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

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November 2003, no. 256

One of the hardest things a reviewer can be asked to do is to produce copy about a book that is so beautifully done that commentary on it seems both ridiculous and vaguely offensive. That is my predicament here. It is with a certain wry delight that I can report that this is the second time I have been in this position in recent months. The other book was a first novel, too. It is tremendously heartening to know that creative writing not merely good but of the highest order is being produced in these dismal times.

Shantaram is based on the life of its author, Gregory David Roberts. A heroin addict, Roberts was sentenced in 1978 to nineteen years’ imprisonment as punishment for a series of robberies of building society branches, credit unions and shops. In 1980 he escaped from Victoria’s maximum-security prison, thereby becoming one of Australia’s most wanted men for what turned out to be the next ten years.

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Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

by
November 2003, no. 256

One of the hardest things a reviewer can be asked to do is to produce copy about a book that is so beautifully done that commentary on it seems both ridiculous and vaguely offensive. That is my predicament here. It is with a certain wry delight that I can report that this is the second time I have been in this position in recent months. The other book was a first novel, too. It is tremendously heartening to know that creative writing not merely good but of the highest order is being produced in these dismal times.

... (read more)

In September 1929 John Monash, ex-commander of the Australian Corps in France, sat down to reply to his former subordinate, Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliott, a National Party senator and militia major-general. Elliott had asked why he had been passed over for a division in 1918. What ‘secret offence’ had he committed that General Birdwood, the English chief of Australian forces, had denied him advancement? Monash was disturbed that Elliott’s sense of injury should be so raw a decade after the guns had fallen silent. In a tactful, compassionate reply, he set aside the idea of a secret offence and gently reminded Elliott that others, too, had had complaints, and had left them behind. The affection of their men mattered more than honours: ‘This same affection and confidence you have enjoyed in rich measure, and no one can question that it was well deserved. After all, you commanded a celebrated Brigade during the period of its greatest successes … Then why worry as to the verdict of posterity upon so brilliant and soldierly a career?’

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