Mark Gomes

Australian author Helen Hodgman depicts writing and domestic love as apotheoses of self-annihilation. In Jack and Jill (1978) – Hodgman’s second novel and the second to be reissued by Text Publishing this year, after Blue Skies (1976) – literary imagination acts as a sexual Strangling Fig, and childbearing poses a threat to psychic wherewithal. Mind and body, this stylis ...

Brisbane by Matthew Condon

October 2010, no. 325

Novelist Gilbert Parker’s appraisal of Brisbane, penned during his visit in 1889 and quoted by Matthew Condon in this new, impressionistic history of the city, is not one that Condon wants to repeat, yet is powerless to refute: ‘Brisbane is not the least poetical … There is a sense of disappointment, which grows deeper as the sojourn in the capital is continued.’

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Suburban crime narratives featured in many Australian films in the 1990s, partly due to the influence of director Rowan Woods’s film The Boys, which drew inspiration from the ‘kitchen sink’ cinema of 1960s Britain. Twelve years after its theatrical release, this seminal film – based on the play by Gordon Graham and written for the screen by Stephen Sewell – remains the best example of an Australian genre that illustrates Marcus Clarke’s conception of ‘weird melancholy’ in the criminal element of our cities’ troubled underclass.

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Mother of Rock is an Australian journalist’s adoring biography of one of our great social journalists. Sydney newsman Robert Milliken’s life of expatriate writer Lillian Roxon (1932–73) is foremost an account of the birth of celebrity tabloid press in the 1960s and its close links with the emergence of rock music as an art form and breeding ground for ‘stars’. Like Roxon’s writing itself – a generous selection of which is reproduced at the back of the book – what little discussion of the qualities of the music of the times there is comes second to an account of its social and market implications and its dramatic leading personalities. Roxon emerges as a radical, under-acknowledged progenitor of ‘new journalism’.

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