Anthony Lynch

‘I could give ’em / enough social comment to fill a car park’ proffers the narrator in ‘Busking’, halfway through Tim Thorne’s I Con. In many ways, this book delivers on that promise. Thorne’s targets include war, colonisation, inequality, political deception, capitalism and celebrity. One moment he juxtaposes Dannii Minogue’s career with descriptions of police brutality; the next he bowls a bouncer at former Australian cricket captain Kim Hughes for touring South Africa during the apartheid era.

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Anthony Lynch reviews 'To Sculpt the Moment'

Anthony Lynch
Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Despite the deadly title, this anthology of twenty-eight poems from the 2008 Newcastle Poetry Prize is replete with gems. Assembled from 423 entries by judges Jan Owen, Philip Salom, and Richard Tipping – effectively the anthology’s editors – it is a brilliant sampler that few anthologies can match for the legroom offered to the longer poem and poetry sequence.

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'It’s in your hands, Julianne,’ proclaims an e-mail from Barack Obama. So opens the latest Griffith Review, which explores the many ways that, across the globe, individuals and groups are taking social, political and environmental matters into their own hands. Addressee aside, the Obama e-mail sent to editor Schultz in the final week of the US election campaign landed in the virtual hands of millions. But as Schultz notes, the Obama campaign saw ‘social networking’ on a massive scale, made millions feel involved and, she posits, saw a concomitant end to the ‘era of mass media politics’. Marian Arkin’s memoir picks up on campaign engagement, recalling her involvement with a large-scale community of volunteer lawyers working to protect the integrity of the US election process. Arkin’s article provides a useful guide to those who find the US electoral college system a mystery.

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Anthony Lynch reviews 'The Striped World' by Emma Jones

Anthony Lynch
Wednesday, 23 September 2020

It is fitting that ‘Waking’, a poem that links waking with birth, opens this inspired début collection from Emma Jones: ‘There was one morning // when my mother woke and felt a twitch / inside, like the shifting of curtains. // She woke and so did I.’ So the narrator-poet announces her arrival. The birthing theme continues in the next poem, ‘Farming’, in which pearls are ‘shucked from the heart of their grey mothers’. The same poem also foregrounds the poet’s interest in Ballard-like submerged worlds – oyster farms and shipwrecks, but also entire cities – and in the polarities of sky and sea. Indeed, this collection as a whole engages imaginatively with many dualisms: worldly/other worldly, internal/external, being/not being, self/other. Jones’s method is one of controlled playfulness, and despite many allusions to biblical themes and imagery, she avoids the didactic dualism of good/evil.

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The American poet William Carlos Williams often admitted how much he owed to the ‘little magazines’ that first published him. As they lapsed in and out of existence, he regarded them all as essentially the one publication and was grateful for the lifeblood they gave his (at first unpopular) writing. It is to be hoped that Australian literary magazines of various political shades and aesthetic proclivities, from Quadrant to Overland, are doing something similar. Indeed, when so much else is in flux in the publishing world, it is amazing how enduring Australia’s top literary magazines have been, despite their often small subscription lists. Even Island magazine, which is something of a junior compared to Meanjin, Southerly, and Westerly, has been around for twenty-seven years. Space: New Writing, on the other hand, has just appeared in its third number. To judge from the best material in the current issues of both magazines, Australian literary culture is not being ill-served here. If not everything is of equal interest (how could it be?), there is plenty of satisfaction to be had in both.

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Many readers – though apparently not enough to have saved them – will mourn the recent demise of Black Inc.’s annual Best Australian anthologies of essays, stories, and poems (which first appeared in 1998, 1999, and 2003, respectively). The last of these, however, has won something of a reprieve in Best Summer Stories ...

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Books of the Year 2018

Michelle de Kretser, et al.
Monday, 26 November 2018

To celebrate the best books of 2018, Australian Book Review invited nearly forty contributors to nominate their favourite titles. Contributors include Michelle de Kretser

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Anthony Lynch reviews 'When I Saw the Animal' by Bernard Cohen

Anthony Lynch
Thursday, 25 October 2018

As a boy, I watched with fascination an early sci-fi horror film, The Blob. After a meteorite lands in Pennsylvania, a small, gelatinous blob emerges from the crater. Starting with an inquisitive old man who probes this runaway black pudding with his walking stick, the blob proceeds to consume, literally, everything ...

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Robert Drewe’s first short story collection, the widely acclaimed The Bodysurfers (1983), opens with a story of the Lang family – children Annie, David, and Max, taken by their recently widowed father for a Christmas Day lunch at a local hotel, where it becomes apparent that their father is on intimate terms with the hotel manageress.

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In the final novella of Nick Earls's quintet The Wisdom Tree, a benign security guard, Wanda, misquotes Tolstoy: 'No family is perfect. But each family isn't perfect in its own ...

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