Scribe

Despite the acoustic guitar driving most of his music as the leader of celebrated American band The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle hung out with the ‘metal kids’ in high school. During more than two decades as a songwriter, he has returned again and again to young misfits who find solace in music and other forms of escape – whether comic books, games, movies, or drugs. Perhaps because he’s been there himself, Darnielle has managed to do this without appearing exploitive or condescending, and his first full-length novel follows suit.

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Ten years ago, if you moved in certain journalistic circles, calling yourself a blogger was about as popular as leprosy. Few in the industry had respect for the platform, and fewer still would have read your work. Print journalists seemed divided on whether blogging was a joke or a threat ...

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How much does the average Australian know about Indonesia? Not the tourist version, with its resorts and beaches and lacklustre nasi goreng – but the wider culture, history, and people. At best, Indonesia is a tantalising enigma to most Australians. At worst, it is ignored – a vast nation about which we neither know nor care, despite its importance as one of our closest neighbours.

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For the unacquainted reader, a few facts about Hans Keilson, author of There Stands My House: A Memoir. A German Jew, Keilson fled the Nazis for the Netherlands in 1936. After the war he wrote and published two novels, Comedy in a Minor Key (1947) and The Death of the Adversary (1959), both of which were unread for decades but which have now been rediscovered and received as masterpieces in the Anglophone world. Keilson also had a long, accomplished career as a psychiatrist, specialising in the treatment of children traumatised by war. He died on 31 May 2011 at the age of 101. Scribe is the first house to publish his memoir in English.

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Bill Clinton discouraged politicians from picking fights with people who bought their ink by the barrel. Mindful of that advice, Lindsay Tanner has waited until the end of a career dedicated to the ‘serious craft of politics’ to remonstrate with the fourth estate about its fundamental unseriousness in reporting the democratic process ...

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The Best Australian Stories 2010 edited by Cate Kennedy  & New Australian Stories 2 edited by Aviva Tuffield

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February 2011, no. 328

Amore appropriate moniker for this year’s Black Inc. collection might be ‘Bleak Australian Stories 2010’. Either the editor’s taste runs to the morose or Australian writers need to venture outside and enjoy the sunshine a little more...

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Gallipoli: A Short History by Michael McKernan & Pozières: The Anzac Story by Scott Bennett

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May 2011, no. 331

Michael McKernan states in his introduction to his short book on Gallipoli that he is dissatisfied with much writing on military history. He writes: ‘Military history is often presented as a thing of maps and statistics, a brutal narrative based on the deployments and motives of commanders with a score sheet of those who performed well and those who failed. In this book I have tried to go beyond that ... to show that somewhere for each life lost, there was long mourning and deep grief.'

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Black Glass, speculative fiction with a sentimental edge, explores a nation controlled by an intrusive surveillance culture and subliminal social engineering...

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Once mainly associated with shrill killjoys and desiccated reductionists, atheism has recently received a jolt of adrenaline from Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and others. Yet while these writers delight in exposing religion’s philosophical deficiencies, their tone is predominantly negative. Fortunately, The Australian Book of Atheism goes beyond simply rehashing the New Atheists’ explanations of Why God Doesn’t Exist. Divided into ‘Overview’, ‘Personal’, ‘Education’, ‘Social and Cultural’, ‘Politics’, ‘Philosophy’, and ‘Religion and the Brain’, this collection offers a more nuanced picture of atheism than does the recent crop of celebrity-authored blockbusters.

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The two narrators in this intense novel are the same person at different ages: the child of eight years who struggles against sibling displacement; and his twenty-eight-year-old self, scarred by his early years and obsessively revisiting them. The narrative documents these two periods of emotional turmoil in the unnamed protagonist’s alternating monologues. This anonymity may signify a lack of a more integrated self, and will not be a problem for the reader. As reviewer, I will simply use personal pronouns when referring to him.

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