Archive

Short stories are often disappointing, and this collection is no exception. What a pity that so much strength and force has been put into a book that lacks a plan and presents too many inconclusive pieces.

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Georgia Savage reviews 'The Gift of the Gab' by Barry Dickins

Georgia Savage
Friday, 27 November 2020

This book is the best thing that’s happened to me since J.D. Salinger covered his typewriter, or went to Mars or whatever it was that happened to him. It’s a book to put in your satchel and take everywhere, so that in times of stress, you can take it out, read a chapter and feel your heart lift. In fact, it’s really too good for me to write about, but I don’t suppose the editor would be amused by a silent tribute.

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Language like the weather, is something that everybody wants to talk about, itemise or complain about. All of us have our views about this or that departure from a supposed norm, this or that barbarous neologisms, this quaint local usage, that oddity of pronunciation. Many of us, too, can be as cranky about language as we are about our interpretations of the weather. For myself, I should like to see the apostrophe abolished, as being something which causes much confusion and error while doing virtually no good; but I am sufficiently conventional to use it, after all. In the upshot it’s not worth a cracker kicking against all the pricks. Let the apostrophe live out its natural life.

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John Hanrahan reviews 'The Comfort of Men' by Dennis Altman

John Hanrahan
Friday, 27 November 2020

Where women lead, men generally have the sense to follow. Eventually. Feminist fiction, lesbian fiction have developed ahead of gay fiction in Australia. This is one of the many ideas acknowledged or explored in Dennis Altman’s welcome addition to literature about homosexual relationships.

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For those who think that opera in Australia only began to get off the ground this book will come as something of a shock. There was a time, over a hundred years ago, when enthusiastic audiences drawn from across the social spectrum supported ‘regular seasons of the world’s best musical theatre’ by a resident, commercial opera company which played in all the major capital cities.

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What an absolute wealth of detail this volume contains! There are colour and black and white photographs of every ballet personality to dance in Australia since the war and a comprehensive index for both performers and works.

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Mary Lord reviews 'Australian Melodrama' by Eric Irvin

Mary Lord
Friday, 27 November 2020

It seems that going to the theatre has always been a popular activity with Australians. Popular theatre during the period covered by this book (1834–1914) staged a remarkable variety of Australian plays: operettas, melodramas, burlesques, sensation plays, and extravaganzas. On Our Selection, the first play to be called ‘Australian through and through’, opened to an audience of more than a thousand and achieved tremendous popularity.

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In the advertising world there’s a new and controversial trend towards catering for the X-Generation; that is, consumers with a two-second attention span, and we’re not just talking about teenagers on rollerblades.

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Laurie Clancy reviews '12 Edmonstone Street' by David Malouf

Laurie Clancy
Friday, 27 November 2020

The opening word of this collection of stylish essays in autobiography by David Malouf is ‘memory’; it is a word that recurs regularly throughout the text and a faculty that is central to most of Malouf’s work. Malouf is a writer perpetually in exile, forever dispossessed and these essays, like most of his fiction, are an attempt to recapture and retain a sense of the past; they repeat and reformulate themes that run through his creative writing. In particular, his most recent book, the collection of short stories Antipodes, can be seen to throw a good deal of light on this memoir. The author’s intimate relationship with his grandfather rather than his parents, the tension between the Old World and the New, the powers of language and narrative and the relationship between art and experience, the notion of, as one character puts it, ‘pushing ourselves to the limits of our young courage in outrageous dares’, and finally the paradoxically nostalgic rejection of the Brisbane of his boyhood to which he returns so often in his fiction – all these themes recur from the previous book and are elaborated on.

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Abbreviations

John Hanrahan
Friday, 27 November 2020

Melbourne has Moomba and Melbourne Cup week. Sydney and Perth have cultural festivals. And so, pre-eminently, does Adelaide. Even from the backblocks of Melbourne, Adelaide Writers’ Week stirs up a real thrill.

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