Telling Stories is a great brick of a book full of diverting bits and pieces about Australian culture over the past seventy-seven years. It is hugely entertaining – a sort of QIin book form, with seventy-nine authors offering their brief observations on aspects of Australian cultural life. No one will read it cover to cover: it’s the sort of book you can leave about the house for anyone to pick up and amuse herself with for fifteen minutes or so. They can jump from titbits about rock music, or children’s novels, films or poetry, or serious pieces on the slow movement towards understanding Australia’s Aboriginal heritage. The editors suggest it is ‘a twenty-first century cabinet of curiosities’. By and large, it creates an optimistic, even celebratory, account of the experience of Australian life in the twentieth century.
Cabinet of curiosities
Telling Stories: Australian Life and Literature 1935–2012
edited by Tanya Dalziell and Paul Genoni
Monash University Publishing, $49.95 pb, 656 pp, 9781921867460
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Susan Lever is the author of David Foster: The Satirist of Australia (Cambria Press, 2008) and general editor of Cambria Press’s Australian Literature Series. She has published widely on Australian literary history and contemporary Australian fiction, and is currently conducting interviews with Australian television writers for the Australian Writers’ Foundation Oral History project. She is completing a book on Australian television dramatists. Susan Lever’s interviews with Australian screenwriters are accessible through the National Film and Sound Archive, samples can be found here.
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