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Malcolm Knox

Last month it was autobiography’s turn, when David McCooey examined recent Australian memoirs (La Trobe University Essay, ABR, May 2006). Now it is biography’s turn: the genre will be the subject of the 2006 Australian Book Review/La Trobe University Annual Lecture, titled ‘Matters of Life and Death: The Return of Biography’. Our distinguished lecturer is Professor Ian Donaldson, Director of the ANU’s Humanities Research Centre, head of the latter’s new Biography Institute, and Consultant Editor for The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He is a general editor of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson (due for publication in twenty-five volumes in 2007), and is completing a life of Jonson for OUP.

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Late January 2021 brought a moment of anger and anguish for many liberal Australians. Margaret Court, the erstwhile tennis champion turned Pentecostal Christian preacher, had just received Australia’s top honour. Court may have won more grand slam tournaments than any other player, but her record cannot erase a history of derogatory comments about gay and transgender Australians. And yet, I wonder if most Australians didn’t just mentally check out of this latest chapter in a thirty-year kulturkampf over sexual identity. This is a country increasingly willing to live and let live – but not obsess – over such matters.

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Bluebird by Malcolm Knox

October 2020, no. 425

Malcolm Knox told Kill Your Darlings in 2012 that with The Life (2011), his celebrated surfing novel set on the Gold Coast, he wanted to write a historical novel about the Australian coastline and ‘that moment when one person could live right on the coast on our most treasured waterfront places, and then all of a sudden they couldn’t’. In Bluebird, set on a northern beach a ferry ride from ‘Ocean City’, this brutally undemocratic transformation is promoted from a minor theme to the engine that drives the highbrow soap-opera narrative.

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Second ball, day three of the 2014 Boxing Day Test match and Australian wicket-keeper Brad Haddin dives full length in front of first slip Shane Watson to catch Indian number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara off Ryan Harris single-handed in the webbing of his glove. Virat Kohli replaces Pujara, and in the last over of the day he is still there, with 169 runs. He flas ...

Let's start with the title. The act of reading is anything but simple, as Fiona McFarlane and Gabrielle Carey both point out. Eyes, brain, and mind cooperate to create from a series of symbols with no intrinsic representative value a coherent message, or some amusing nonsense, or a persuasive argument, or a boring anecdote, or a parade of transparent lies.

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Since the publication of his début novel, Summerland (2000), Malcolm Knox has established himself as one of the most ambitious and exciting fiction writers at work in Australia. A seasoned journalist, recipient of two Walkley Awards– one for his work, with Caroline Overington, in the exposé of Norma Khouri– and prolific author of diverse non-fiction wor ...

At last, new Bradman territory to be conquered: the Don 1939–45 or, if we discount the ‘phoney war’ (‘Business as Usual’, as Robert Menzies said of that first phase in World War II), perhaps 1941–45. I imagined a slim volume. Not so! Instead, there is a catch to the subtitle of Bradman’s War: How the 1948 Invincibles Turned the Cricket Pitch into a Battlefield, which indicates that we will be on more familiar terrain.‘More familiar’ because this book is an attempt at revisionist history. Questioning the Bradman idolatry and the invincibility of the Invincibles is a suitable aim. However, the main task for the revisionist historian is to provide either fresh new evidence or a powerful reinterpretation of existing evidence as part of formulating a balanced argument: Malcolm Knox does neither.

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The Life  by Malcolm Knox

June 2011, no. 332

How would Dennis Keith – or, if we’re using the language of legends, DK – characterise it? ‘The Life was this mythic world where you could surf as much as you want, every day, any day, go anywhere [...] Getting waves was everything, every day.’ In Malcolm Knox’s exceptional new novel, this world – with its singular focus, and its sacred ecstasies – is revealed in a language both ...

Like the man with a hammer to whom everything looks like a nail, Xavier Pons knows what he is looking for in his monograph on sex in Australian writing, and makes sure he finds it. Pons, a lecturer in Australian studies at the University of Toulouse, is clearly expert in his subject, and renders his explorations lucidly, at times with great insight, and intelligibly to non-specialist eyes.

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Graham Swift’s fine novel Last Orders (1996) is propelled by the motif of a group of middle-aged men, with a shared past, brought together again by a single goal. In their case, it is the matter of casting the ashes of a dead friend into the sea. The narrative dips into the characters’ past to acquaint us with the nature of the ties that bind – have bound – them to each other and to the dead man.

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