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Anthony Lynch

Frank by Jordie Albiston

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May 2023, no. 453

The Australian photographer Frank Hurley, who accompanied Antarctic expeditions led by Douglas Mawson and Ernest Shackleton, proved to be an able diarist as well as a skilful and adventurous photographer. While Hurley participated in a number of expeditions – as well as serving as an official war photographer in both world wars – the late and much missed poet Jordie Albiston has drawn on Hurley’s diaries from Mawson’s sledging trip of November 1912 to January 1913 and Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of November 1914 to September 1916 for what has become her fourteenth and final poetry collection.

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In the introduction to this latest Best Australian Stories, Delia Falconer – in her second and, she advises, last year as editor – contends that the short story has greater affinities with the poem and the essay than with the novel. She rightly identifies the story as often ‘misunderstood in the public imagination as a kind of less demanding novel-in-miniature’. Stories, Falconer argues, are akin to poems in ‘picking their moment’ rather than working in the novel’s ‘great swathes of time’. The short story advances an argument in the way of an essay, while ‘artfully [hiding] its workings’.

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‘And what is wrong with sad stories? The world is always sad.’ So advises Little Red, the aged, marginalised, knowing female character in the title story of Tony Birch’s latest short fiction collection. As in Birch’s previous works, Dark as Last Night contains an abundance of sad stories, but with grief and trauma ameliorated by the main protagonist’s affection for at least one other character, be it a family member or neighbour.

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When as a boy I listened to football on the radio, I would often hear mention of David Harris, a skilful midfielder who played for Geelong and Geelong West respectively in what were then the VFL and VFA. Harris was mostly known as ‘Darky’, not ‘David’. Recently, thanks to a YouTube interview, I learnt that Harris’s parents were Lebanese Australians. While in the interview Harris did not express offence, one can only wonder about the effect on him of this nickname – one he’d had since his own boyhood – based on the colour of his skin.

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Best Summer Stories edited by Aviva Tuffield

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December 2018, no. 407

Many readers – though apparently not enough to have saved them – will mourn the recent demise of Black Inc.’s annual Best Australian anthologies of essays, stories, and poems (which first appeared in 1998, 1999, and 2003, respectively). The last of these, however, has won something of a reprieve in Best Summer Stories ...

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To celebrate the best books of 2018, Australian Book Review invited nearly forty contributors to nominate their favourite titles. Contributors include Michelle de Kretser

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As a boy, I watched with fascination an early sci-fi horror film, The Blob. After a meteorite lands in Pennsylvania, a small, gelatinous blob emerges from the crater. Starting with an inquisitive old man who probes this runaway black pudding with his walking stick, the blob proceeds to consume, literally, everything ...

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Robert Drewe’s first short story collection, the widely acclaimed The Bodysurfers (1983), opens with a story of the Lang family – children Annie, David, and Max, taken by their recently widowed father for a Christmas Day lunch at a local hotel, where it becomes apparent that their father is on intimate terms with the hotel manageress.

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In the final novella of Nick Earls's quintet The Wisdom Tree, a benign security guard, Wanda, misquotes Tolstoy: 'No family is perfect. But each family isn't perfect in its own ...

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‘How did you even begin to fit two adult lives together so that they happily resembled a whole?’ Jonathan Lott, the main character in Susan Johnson’s tenth novel, asks himself. It is giving little away to say that by book’s end there are no definitive answers. But Jonathan’s attempts to make sense of his wife Sarah’s defection from their decades-lo ...

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