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Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan FAHA is Emeritus Professor in the School of Humanities at Flinders University in Adelaide. Her latest book is The Fiction of Thea Astley (2016). Earlier books include: Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark (2011), Christina Stead (1988), Along the Faultlines: Sex, Race and Nation in Australian Women’s Writing 1880s to 1930s (1995), and Who Was That Woman? The Australian Women’s Weekly in the Postwar Years (2002); as editor, Grafts: Feminist Cultural Criticism (1988), Debutante Nation: Feminism Contests the 1890s (1993) with Sue Rowley and Susan Magarey, and Thea Astley’s Fictional Worlds (2006), with Paul Genoni.

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Inseparable Elements: Dame Mary Durack, a daughter’s perspective' by Patsy Millett

March 2022, no. 440 21 February 2022
Another book about a mother by a daughter, I thought when I saw this one, summoning to mind Biff Ward’s In My Mother’s Hands (2014), Kate Grenville’s One Life (2015), and Nadia Wheatley’s Her Mother’s Daughter (2018). But while each of those books presents an impressive woman cramped – sometimes tragically so – by her postwar circumstances, in this case we have a subject who was noth ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Eve Langley and The Pea Pickers' by Helen Vines

October 2021, no. 436 23 September 2021
In 1942, The Pea Pickers was published by Angus & Robertson in Sydney, garnering high praise for its freshness and poetic invention. A picaresque tale of two sisters who, dressed as boys, earn their living picking seasonal crops in Gippsland in the late 1920s, it impressed Douglas Stewart, literary editor of the Bulletin, with its ‘love of Australian earth and Australian people and skill in ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Sincerely, Ethel Malley' by Stephen Orr

July 2021, no. 433 22 June 2021
‘Ern Malley’ – a great literary creation and the occasion of a famous literary hoax – has continued to attract fascinated attention ever since he burst upon the Australian poetry scene more than seventy years ago. But his sister Ethel has attracted little notice, she who set off the whole saga by writing to Max Harris, the young editor of Angry Penguins, asking whether the poems left by he ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Literary Lion Tamers: Book editors who made publishing history' by Craig Munro

April 2021, no. 430 23 March 2021
Craig Munro’s latest book shines a spotlight on the work of some very different Australian book editors. It begins in the 1890s, when A.G. Stephens came into prominence as literary editor of The Bulletin’s famous Red Page. It continues through the trials and tribulations of P.R. (‘Inky’) Stephensen in publishing and radical politics in the interwar period and his internment during the war ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Fallen Among Reformers: Miles Franklin, modernity and the New Woman' by Janet Lee

September 2020, no. 424 24 August 2020
After My Brilliant Career appeared in 1901, Miles Franklin spent a few years living in Sydney, where she enjoyed being fêted as a new literary sensation. Her attempt to earn a living by writing fiction and journalism about women’s issues was less than successful; even the timely and witty suffrage novel, Some Everyday Folk and Dawn (1909), was knocked back at first. In 1906, at the age of twent ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'The Innocent Reader: Reflections on reading and writing' by Debra Adelaide and 'Wild About Books: Essays on books and writing' by Michael Wilding

December 2019, no. 417 26 November 2019
The Innocent Reader, Debra Adelaide’s collection of essays reflecting on the value of reading and the writing life, also works as a memoir. Part I, ‘Reading’, moves from childhood memories of her parents’ Reader’s Digest Condensed Books to discovering J.R.R. Tolkien and other books in the local library, and to the variable guidance of teachers at school and university. Its centrepiece is ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Beyond Words: A year with Kenneth Cook' by Jacqueline Kent

March 2019, no. 409 22 February 2019
Kenneth Cook (1929-87) was a prolific author best known for his first novel, Wake in Fright (1961), which was based on his experience as a young journalist in Broken Hill in the 1950s. In January 1972, as I sat in a London cinema watching the film made from this novel by director Ted Kotcheff, its nightmare vision of outback life seared itself into my brain. I was about to return home to Australia ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'The Butcherbird Stories' by A.S. Patrić

December 2018, no. 407 26 November 2018
In 2016 A.S. Patrić’s first novel, Black Rock, White City won the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Two years earlier (he told an interviewer) he couldn’t even get a rejection slip for it: not one of the big Australian publishers responded when he sent the manuscript. The independent company Transit Lounge took it on, and the rest is history. Or, rather, the rest of Patrić’s work comes into t ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Do Oysters Get Bored?: A curious life' by Rozanna Lilley

June-July 2018, no. 402 25 May 2018
At the centre of this book is Oscar, the son of Rozanna Lilley and her husband, Neil Maclean, and Oscar’s particular way of encountering the world. Unpredictably (by most people’s standards), he is indifferent to some things, sharply affected by others. His fears – of the outdoors, of night and the watching moon, of dogs, for example – are frequently disabling for him and unnerving for oth ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Elizabeth Harrower: Critical essays' edited by Elizabeth McMahon and Brigitta Olubas

March 2018, no. 399 22 February 2018
The appearance in 2014 of In Certain Circles, a new novel from Elizabeth Harrower, was an important literary event. The author, who still lives in Sydney, had published nothing since 1966 and had repeatedly maintained that she had nothing more to say. In Certain Circles had been ready for publication in 1971, but Harrower withdrew it. In interviews over the intervening period, she gave a number of ... (read more)
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