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Joel Deane

Books of the Year 2023

by Kerryn Goldsworthy et al.
December 2023, no. 460

What the authors of these three wildly different books share is a gift for creating through language a kind of intimacy of presence, as though they were in the room with you. Emily Wilson’s much-awaited translation of The Iliad (W.W. Norton & Company) is a gorgeous, hefty hardback with substantial authorial commentary that manages to be both scholarly and engaging. The poem is translated into effortless-looking blank verse that reads like music. The Running Grave (Sphere) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), the seventh novel in the Cormoran Strike crime series and one of the best so far, features Rowling’s gift for the creation of memorable characters and a cracking plot about a toxic religious cult. Charlotte Wood’s Stone Yard Devotional (Allen & Unwin, reviewed in this issue of ABR) lingers in the reader’s mind, with the haunting grammar of its title, the restrained artistry of its structure, and the elusive way that it explores modes of memory, grief, and regret.

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Why did Australia vote against the Voice referendum?

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Early in Joel Deane’s third novel, the point of view shifts from the first to the third person as the narrator, Patrick ‘Pin’ Pinnock, reflects on a moment in boyhood, standing atop a diving board at night.

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This week on the ABR Podcast, we have Joel Deane with The Great Australian Intemperance, his essay on rising economic and political insecurity as reflected in the My Place movement, conspiracy theories, neo-Nazis, and ‘sovereign citizen’ groups. Joel Deane is a poet, novelist, journalist, and speechwriter. Listen to Deane’s The Great Australian Intemperance, published in the September issue of ABR.  

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The stumping of Jonny Bairstow reminded me of reaction chains. Bairstow, in case you didn’t waste winter nights watching the Ashes, was the English batsman controversially stumped by Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey during the second Test at Lord’s. Pandemonium ensued, with the poohbahs of the Marylebone Cricket Club berating the Australian team during the lunch break as they filed through the holiest of holies, the Long Room. The brouhaha led news bulletins around the cricketing world; even the prime ministers of Australia and the Old Enemy weighed in.

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'Australia faces the real prospect of a war with China within three years that could involve a direct attack on our mainland.’ That was the opening line of a 2,174-word article – headlined ‘Australia “must prepare” for threat of China war’ and tagged with a ‘Red Alert’ graphic – that ran on the front pages of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on 7 March. Next day, the authors of the ‘Red Alert’ special, journalists Peter Hartcher and Matthew Knott, ran a 2,241-word hypothetical about how a conflict over Taiwan could, within seventy-two hours, result in missile bombardments and cyberattacks against Australia. On the third day, Hartcher and Knott’s ‘Red Alert’ special concluded with a 2,278-word front-page piece on the steps that Australia needed to take to prepare for war with China.

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In today’s episode, listen to Joel Deane read his review of An Ugly Truth by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang, an account of Facebook’s meddling in the 2016 US elections that ushered Donald Trump into the Oval Office. Joel Deane argues that despite Zuckerberg’s show of civic-mindedness, Facebook’s data-mining enterprise has always been driven by contempt for its users – a manipulable mass of ‘dumb fucks’, as Zuckerberg once put it.

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Sealand calls itself a micronation. No one else does. It’s easy to see why: the ‘kingdom’ is little more than a glorified helipad. It rises from the North Sea off the coast of Suffolk like a Greek version of the letter π rendered out of concrete and steel – the sole survivor of a series of Maunsell forts built to shoot down Nazi Kriegsmarine aircraft during World War II. Abandoned by Britain in the 1950s, the fort was hijacked by pirate radio broadcaster Paddy Roy Bates in the 1960s and renamed the Principality of Sealand. Bates crowned himself ‘prince regent’ and – besides firing warning shots at the Royal Navy and fighting off a coup attempt by German mercenaries – entered into a series of sketchy schemes to stay afloat. One enterprise, launched in 2000 with the help of cypherpunk Ryan Lackey, was for the Bates family to turn Sealand into the world’s first data haven: an unbreakable digital lockbox beyond the clutches of law enforcement agencies and copyright lawyers.

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Good books are like recurrent dreams: haunting the reader’s waking hours by sitting, tantalisingly, on the edge of conscious thought. Take, for example ...

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Comfort Food by Ellen van Neerven

by
December 2016, no. 387

Ellen van Neerven, Joel Deane, and Mike Ladd present poems about journeys, recovery, and healing, from comfort food to the experience of a stroke, within overlapping landscapes as palimpsests for their respective pathways.

Reciprocity through feeding runs through Ellen van Neerven’s first collection (Comfort Food, University of Queensland Press, $ ...

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