Delia Falconer

Killing Sydney by Elizabeth Farrelly & Sydney (Second Edition) by Delia Falconer

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March 2021, no. 429

Poor old Sydney. If it isn’t being described as crass and culturally superficial, it’s being condemned for allowing developers to obliterate whatever natural beauty it ever had. Is it doomed, will it survive, and if so, what kind of city is it likely to be?

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What this is not, as Kim Williams is quick to tell us (introduction, paragraph two), is a dog-bites-Murdoch account of that nasty business in August 2013 that saw Williams summarily ousted as chief executive of News Corp Australia. Other disgruntled former Ruprechtian courtiers such as former editor-in-chief of The Herald Sun Bruce Guthrie, who sought and won legal redress and indeed wrote an account of his experiences (actually called Man Bites Murdoch), have told their stories, and told them well. But this is not the path of the enigmatic and enlightened Kim. Instead, as he says, this is a book about ‘one of the most precious things in life that drives most of us … our passions’.

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When Mark Henshaw’s début, Out of the Line of Fire, appeared in 1988, it was, as literary editor Stephen Romei states in his introduction to the recent Text Classics reissue, the ‘literary sensation of the year’. A novel about an Australian author’s difficulties in writing about his fugitive subject, the young German philosopher Wolfi, it was very mu ...

Sydney by Delia Falconer

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November 2010, no. 326

Delia Falconer’s Sydney, the third in a series from NewSouth in which leading Australian authors write about their hometowns, is like its harbour, brimful with tones, vivid with contemplation ...

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Living life in only one dimension, without having another world or set of characters to visit, doesn’t seem enough. I’m always happier when I’m writing, and not so easy to live with when I’m not.

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It is eight years since Delia Falconer published her successful début novel, The Service of Clouds. Eight years is a long time. It took James Joyce eight years to write Ulysses (1922). Eight years is one year longer than Joseph Heller laboured over Catch-22 (1961) and about six years longer than it took George Eliot to knock out Middlemarch (1871-72).

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

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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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 A friend describes the sensation as being in the movie set of your own life: everything is familiar, but not quite right. Auckland feels like an Australian city that has simply slipped a little, like the accent, to the east. There are hints of Hobart in the crisp sea and the misty sketched-in headlands. And of Sydney, in the over-abundance of harbour, the narrow streets of Ponsonby, which drop away towards the water, the houses filled with quiet light. Perhaps all Pacific cities look pretty much the same these days: here is the casino, the observation tower, the thirties picture palace turned into a Singapore-style mall, the narrow lane with outdoor tables under braziers; the same stands of Westpacs and McDonalds and Lush cosmetics stores. Perhaps what differentiates one city from another now is the sheer volume of traffic forced through its streets.

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John Docker

Mark Davis’ Voltairean Gangland is one of those rare books that prise open a space for revaluation of the direction of a culture. Like The Dunciad’s evocation of the Grub Street hacks of its time, Gangland exposes tentacular networks of chummy patronage, mutual puffery, and cultural power. Gangland is especially enjoyable on the clown-like behaviour of the ex-Scripsi diaspora – in a curious sexual division of labour, a B-team of male critics, captained by the felicitously named P. Craven, has successfully promoted a coterie of writers like Jolley, Garner, and Modjeska. Compared to those I analyse in Australian Cultural Elites (1974) and In A Critical Condition (1984), this new élite is the most intellectually thin in Australian cultural history. Assisted by a passive, grovelling middle-class readership, it both creates such writers as canonical and then tries desperately to shield their texts from critique and challenge.

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This novel, Delia Falconer’s first, takes the form of a love lament: all about breath in bodies; textures and surfaces; clouds; mountains; photography; colour; gardens; illness. Much more, too, of course, and it is a work that certainly does not warrant such a glib cataloguing of elements and attributes. It is ambitious, and successful ...

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