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Kate Jennings

One day soon, instead of meekly thanking the Editor for another memoir, I’m going to scream. Not another damned life story, confession, self-exploration! I’m fed up, I’ll shout – fed up with women (because they always are) whose only way of writing about their times is to plonk themselves at the centre (which they are, in a literal sense) and to define everything through their own feminism, jacket, migraine, dog, marriage, job or dependency.

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How many books should an author have under their belt before they indulge in a piece of frippery? When John Steinbeck wrote Travels with Charley (1962), about his journeys across the country with his poodle, it must have been hard not to see it as a comedown from The Grapes of Wrath (1939). Adding the subtitle (‘In Search of America’) can’t have been enough to convince anyone that this was anything more than a writer who knew he was nearing the end of his life and career, going for a drive with his dog. By then, however, Steinbeck was widely regarded as having earned a certain licence.

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Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings & Judgement Rock by Joanna Murray-Smith

May 2002, no. 241

From at least the mid-1980s, it has been almost obligatory for Australian reviewers to bemoan the dearth of contemporary political novels in this country. In some ways, this is a predictable backlash against the flowering of postmodern fabulist novels of ‘beautiful lies’ (by such writers as Peter Carey, Elizabeth Jolley, and Brian Castro) in the past two decades ...

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