‘The product under consideration is Shist.’ So began New Zealand historian Keith Sinclair’s discussion of short histories in 1968. His irreverent diminutive is still occasionally heard among professional historians of a certain age. It is less often recalled that Sinclair was defending the worth of the short history ...... (read more)
Rampaging in Melbourne
Memoirs of a Young Bastard: The Diaries of Tim Burstall November 1953 to December 1954
edited by Hilary McPhee, with Ann Standish
Miegunyah Press, $59.99 hb, 368 pp, 9780522858143
With Tim Burst ...
Australian advocates of a harsh line against asylum seekers arriving by boat often base their arguments on a concern for the protection of human life. Unless we deter boat people, so the reasoning goes, ever greater numbers will set out on the dangerous voyage from Indonesia, and more and more lives will be lost at sea ...... (read more)
Few writers, it could be argued, have ever cannibalised life for their art as ruthlessly and consistently as did Martin Boyd; and few are born into situations which lend themselves so readily to art. Boyd’s working life – indeed, much of his entire existence – was spent trying to unite the past with the present, the old world with the new, himself with the man ...
A sanitised version of a great contrarian
The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael
edited by Sanford Schwartz
The Library of America, US$40 hb, 852 pp, 9781598531091
Pauline Kael did not shy away from big statements. She ...
This is how Claire Tomalin closes her Dickens biography: ‘He left a trail like a meteor, and everyone finds their own version of Charles Dickens’, followed by a long list of types. I consider Dickens the surrealist, or thesentimentalist, but then I pick Dickens the tireless walker. And I concede, with Tomalin, that regarding h ...
Susan Sheridan’s Nine Lives, a ‘group biography’, analyses the life stories and literary achievements of nine Australian women writers. The purpose, according to Sheridan, is not only to rediscover the life story of each, but also, by exploring their publishing and aesthetic context, to create a ‘fresh configuration’ of our literary history....