Allen & Unwin

A few years ago my publisher suggested that I write a book on sociology of law in Australia. My reply was that there existed far too little research to adequately deal with the topic. I therefore approached O’Malley’s book with a little bit of jealousy. He has written a book I would have liked to have written.

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Who made the best Sachertorte in the world? Andrew Riemer’s mum. The recipe is lost now, but it came from the Ursuline nuns in Sopron, a small Hungarian town where Andrew Riemer’s mother grew up. This information comes early in The Hapsburg Cafe, which is an account of the author’s second visit to the places of his childhood (the first account being recorded in Inside Outside). I waited and waited for him to go to the Ursuline Convent in Sopron and get the recipe, but the duffer never did. Even though he called a part of the book ‘Remembrance of Things Past’. Men. What’s a Madeleine when you could have a Sachertorte?

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Verity Burgmann’s Power and Protest is an evocation of the major social movements that have arisen and thrived in Australia since the late 1960s, the black, women’s, lesbian and gay, peace and green movements. The writer is a well-known historian of Australian radicalism as well as a political scientist, and in combining history and politics she joins other social scientists such as Terry Irving, Judith Brett, James Walter, Murray Goot – an interesting tradition. In each chapter she offers an evocation of the various movements, outlining origins, developments, aspects, divisions, conflicts, difficulties, dilemmas, successes, achievements, as well as the opposition and resistance to these movements in the wider society. Burgmann writes with ease and energy, often with enjoyable irony and sarcasm. I liked her reference to Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1970) as ‘ovarious’. Power and Protest is entertaining as well as clear, and will surely prove indispensable for teaching.

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ART

Contemporary Aboriginal Art: A guide to the rebirth of an ancient culture

by Susan McCulloch

Allen & Unwin, 248 pp, $39.95 pb

1 86508 305 4

Contemporary Aboriginal Art (first published in 1999) contains a wealth of information for those interested in the history, practice, and culture of Aboriginal art. By its very nature, Aboriginal art is constantly changing and evolving, and, in this revised edition, Susan McCulloch details new developments in already well-established communities, and the emergence of some entirely new movements. McCulloch, visual arts writer for The Australian, has travelled extensively to the Kimberley, Central Australia, Arnhem Land and Far North Queensland, and her book provides first-hand accounts of Aboriginal artists and the works they are creating.

Beautifully illustrated, Contemporary Aboriginal Art also contains a comprehensive directory of art centres and galleries, a buyer’s guide, and a listing of recommended readings.

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For a reform politician, these three books should be compulsory reading. They are not, for such a reader, heartening. But they do ‘serve in many respects to discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to illustrate’.

Brian Dale’s Ascent to Power, very much less than fair to Neville Wran, is an unintended expose of the nature of political journalism in this country and its practitioners.

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In a major piece of historical revisionism, Dr John Hirst has scrutinised the so-called evils of convict society in New South Wales between 1788 and 1840. Together with a mythology that has stemmed from it. He sees the image of Botany Bay as a place of depravity, where ‘vice is virtue, virtue vice’, as having been created by the opponents of transportation, the late eighteenth-century prison reformers such as John Howard and Jeremy Bentham; he traces their influence through Evangelicals, like Wilberforce, to the liberal Russell and the radical Molesworth who, in the 1830s, saw Australian settlers wallowing with their assignees in a sensual sty. Since the penal colonies would never cleanse themselves, it behoved indignant parliamentarians at Westminster so to do.

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The Coast by Eleanor Limprecht

by
August 2022, no. 445

A child of nine is taken to Sydney for the first time to visit her mother, a patient at the Coast Hospital lazaret. Upon arrival, she learns that she, like her mother, has leprosy. Her fate is fixed from that day; she will live the remainder of her life in the lazaret. She takes the new name of ‘Alice’ to hide her former self, and the world closes in upon her. There will be no more school, no playing with her younger brothers and sisters, no friends of her own age, no prospect of romance, no hope of freedom.

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In a famous letter to her friend and fellow writer Lorna Sage, Angela Carter declared that no daughter of hers should ever pen a title like Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (1945): ‘BY GRAND CENTRAL STATION I TORE OFF HIS BALLS would be more like it, I should hope.’ The choice between getting sad or getting mad, the dilemma of how to represent the reality of female anguish without romanticising or pathologising it, is a recurring theme in twenty-first-century women’s writing: it forms the main subject of Leslie Jamison’s essay ‘Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain’ (2014); it is the premise behind the post-feminist revenge films Jennifer’s Body (2009) and Promising Young Woman (2020).

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Australia is not the science-fiction capital of the world; in fact we are probably not even on the map. This unfortunate fact would change if we could produce more writers like Paul Collins.

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Wildlife film-makers Richard Southeby and his wife Nicole Vander are filming a duck hunt at Great Dismal Swamp, North Carolina, where Greenpeace demonstrators plan to make their presence felt. Their fanatical leader, Simon Rosenberg, has a flowing beard and deeply troubled eyes. His idea is to get his troops in front of the guns, really provoke the shooters and obtain maximum publicity. Remind you of anyone? But then in the early stages of filming, Nicole is blown away into the swamp by an unseen assassin. Who’s responsible? Greenpeace crazies? Duck hunters? Or an international hired hitman known as the Jaguar? You guessed right.

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