Alison Broinowski

Here we have the first intimations of the coming flowering of the Donald Friend diaries, which are to be published by the National Library with support from Morris West’s benefaction. Friendliness was not always the same as ugliness or cleanliness when he was alive. So, it is somehow comforting that two Australian artists, so different from each other in lifestyle, should after their deaths find common cause.

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Much political mileage has been made in Australia from the turning back of ‘boat people’. Travel by boat is the cheapest means of getting to this island continent, and the most dangerous. Boat travellers are the poorest and the most likely to be caught and deported or sent to an offshore camp. But their number is less than half of those who arrive by air as tourists and apply for refugee protection: some 100,000 have done so during the seven years of this Coalition government.

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Since the 1960s, US military bases have continuously occupied Australian territory, with the permission of successive governments. Of the original sites, the missile-launch tracker Nurrungar is closed and North West Cape no longer communicates with US nuclear submarines, but it has since gained space surveillance and military signals intelligence functions. Pine Gap ...

In the May 2019 issue of Quadrant, its literary editor, Barry Spurr, inveighed against the ‘inane expansion of creative writing courses’. Professor Spurr’s scholarly accomplishments in the study of poetry and Australian fiction do not include creative writing. (His resignation from the University of Sydney was accepted in December 2014 ... ... (read more)

Our tutor in Japanese conversation at the Australian National University in 1968, rather than listen to us mangling his language, used to write the kanji for all the political factions on the board, with a Ramen-like chart of connections looping between them and multiple interest groups ...

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A week after the Manchester Arena bombing, it emerged in the British media that MI5 had been warned about some of the terrorists but had apparently done nothing. M16, moreover, had reportedly encouraged British Libyans to join the 2011 civil war against Gaddafi. Their relatives, including the Manchester bomber, later went back and forth unimpeded between the United Kingdom and Libya.

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Dear Editor,
All authors are perhaps oversensitive to reviews of their books, but I have never been tempted to quarrel with a reviewer until now. Alan Atkinson’s review of Scurvy: The disease of discovery (April 2017) contains a ...

Opposite a handsome portrait of him by Louis Kahan, Bruce Grant introduces his memoir of a ‘life’s journey’ by proposing that it is also a biography of Australia, and promising to revisit that on the last page. There, he summarises the plots of ‘Love in the Asian Century’, his recent trilogy of e-books, in which affairs between older men and younger women, ...

The Wild Goose by Mori Õgai, translated by Meredith McKinney

December 2014, no. 367

Elegantly evoking Japan with cream paper and ink-painted foliage on the cover and inside pages, this slim paperback from the small Braidwood publisher Finlay Lloyd is headed by the single, bold character for ‘wild goose’ (karikarigane). The events recounted in Mori Õgai’s novella occur in Tokyo in the late nineteenth century, in the area north of Kanda around Ueno’s Shinobazu pond, near the residence of the Iwasaki family and the campus of Tokyo Imperial University. A map shows the regular walks taken by Okada, a medical student, along meticulously named streets and lanes, past temples and shrines, restaurants and bookshops, some of which are still there. According to the seasons, the residents in this small area silently change their screens, blinds, and shutters, able to look out while remaining barely visible.

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A recent exhibition at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art included two videos of scenes from modern Japanese life that at first seemed ordinary, even banal. In one, the artist Tabaimo (Ayako Tabata) animates the interior of a train, with views of passing suburbs; in the other, she shows a mansion from a bygone century, opening like a doll’s house to display its plush furnishings. But then things begin to change. Human body parts appear on the train’s luggage racks, an egg on the floor explodes, and the view of the next carriage morphs into a caged prison. Squid-like tentacles penetrate the house, a door opens to reveal a pulsating brain, and a torrent of water pours out. The climax of the train video shows a man lying on the track becoming a red sun on a white screen; the doll’s house one ends with the flood subsiding, and the two halves of the building closing up. The restored street frontage is bland, but no less puzzling.

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