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Peter Pierce

Peter Pierce

Peter Pierce (1950-2018) was an Honorary Professor at Monash University. He edited The Cambridge History of Australian Literature and had been chief judge of the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction for the many years. Among his other books are From Go to Whoa: A Compendium of the Australian Turf; Australian Melodramas: Thomas Keneally's Fiction; and The Country of Lost Children.

Peter Pierce reviews ‘Pescador’s Wake’ by Katherine Johnson

March 2009, no. 309 01 March 2009
Katherine Johnson’s first novel, Pescador’s Wake, is a well-paced account of the pursuit of a Uruguayan vessel that has been fishing illegally for Patagonian toothfish in Australian territorial waters south of Heard Island. What follows is a stern chase. The Pescador is followed across thousands of nautical miles by another fishing boat, the Australis (from Hobart), which for six months of the ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews ‘Russian Anzacs in Australian History’ by Elena Govor

August 2005, no. 273 01 August 2005
In earlier works, Russian-born historian Elena Govor has written of changing Russian perceptions of Australia between 1770 and 1919 and – in My Dark Brother (2000) – of a Russian-Aboriginal family. In her latest book, Russian Anzacs in Australian History, the canvas is broader. She investigates the third largest national group (after the British and Irish) to enlist in the First AIF. Her indef ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'The Penguin Book of the Road' edited by Delia Falconer

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
Roads are not places, but ways to and away from them, perhaps in fearful flight or in buoyant expectation. Travelling them can engender boredom (‘Are we there yet?’) and horror (‘Will we ever get there, alive?’). Roads are means of reaching those fabled and amorphous Australian locations – the city, the bush, the beach. Each of these has attracted anthologies (some from Penguin). Delia F ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews ‘Beneath the Bloodwood Tree’ by Julienne van Loon

June 2008, no. 302 01 June 2008
Julienne van Loon won the Vogel Literary Award for 2004 with Road Story. Now, with Beneath the Bloodwood Tree, van Loon has passed the hurdle or hoodoo of getting a second novel written and published, although not with ease, and apparently with no resolved sense of the kind of novel she was intending to write. The novel’s setting is one of Australia’s new frontiers, the boom mining town of Po ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews ‘Shattered Anzacs: Living with the scars of war’ by Marina Larsson

October 2009, no. 315 01 October 2009
One of the keenest childhood memories of David Meredith, narrator of George Johnston’s novel My Brother Jack (1964), is of the hall of his parents’ suburban home in Melbourne. It was full of prostheses, the artificial limbs of servicemen returned, maimed, from the Great War. The men are friends and former patients of Meredith’s parents. Her mother was a nurse, her father served in the First ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews ‘After the Celebration: Australian Fiction 1989–2007’ by Ken Gelder and Paul Salzman

April 2009, no. 310 10 October 2023
Twenty years after the publication of their ‘inclusive Australian literary history’, The New Diversity: Australian Fiction 1970–1988, Ken Gelder and Paul Salzman have returned with a ‘sequel’, After the Celebration: Australian Fiction 1989–2007. One leaden title succeeds another, although the tone of the second book is angrier. More of that later. As the authors note in their preface, ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'The Broken Years: Australian soldiers in the Great War' by Bill Gammage

May 2010, no. 321 01 May 2010
It is thirty-six years since the Australian National University Press published Bill Gammage’s The Broken Years; thirty-five since the unassuming Penguin paperback that became both a loved and critically acclaimed bestseller. Now Melbourne University Publishing has produced a deluxe, large-format, sombrely and evocatively illustrated edition. On the front cover is a Frank Hurley photograph of Au ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'Charles Kingsford Smith and Those Magnificent Men' by Peter FitzSimons

September 2009, no. 314 01 September 2009
In the epilogue to the latest, massive contribution to his populist and nationalist enterprise, Charles Kingsford Smith and Those Magnificent Men, Peter FitzSimons laments that ‘the true glory days of the pilot are substantially gone’. He charts an heroic, pioneering age of aviation. The ‘magnificent men [in their flying machines]’ include not only the Australians, Kingsford Smith and his ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'To Light Attained: A novel' by Morris Lurie

December 2008–January 2009, no. 307 01 December 2008
In 2006, forty years after the publication of his first novel, Rappaport, which featured the comic misadventures of a Melbourne Jewish antique dealer, Morris Lurie was awarded the Patrick White Award. He is one of those remarkably durable Australian writers who have extended their careers into a fifth decade. Principally known as a short story writer, published widely in Australia, but also in the ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'Babes In The Bush: The making of an Australian image' by Kim Torney

October 2005, no. 275 01 October 2005
The central contention of Kim Torney’s Babes in the Bush: The making of an Australian image is that ‘the lost-child image continues to resonate with Australians’. The cover illustration is from Frederick McCubbin’s famous painting Lost (1886), which Torney elevates to ‘the iconic image of the lost child story’. The task set out in these assertions, and iterations of them, is to find wh ... (read more)
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