Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan

Susan Sheridan FAHA is Emeritus Professor in the School of Humanities at Flinders University in Adelaide. Her latest book is The Fiction of Thea Astley (2016). Earlier books include: Nine Lives: Postwar Women Writers Making Their Mark (2011), Christina Stead (1988), Along the Faultlines: Sex, Race and Nation in Australian Women’s Writing 1880s to 1930s (1995), and Who Was That Woman? The Australian Women’s Weekly in the Postwar Years (2002); as editor, Grafts: Feminist Cultural Criticism (1988), Debutante Nation: Feminism Contests the 1890s (1993) with Sue Rowley and Susan Magarey, and Thea Astley’s Fictional Worlds (2006), with Paul Genoni.

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Do Oysters Get Bored?: A curious life' by Rozanna Lilley

June-July 2018, no. 402 25 May 2018
Susan Sheridan reviews 'Do Oysters Get Bored?: A curious life' by Rozanna Lilley
At the centre of this book is Oscar, the son of Rozanna Lilley and her husband, Neil Maclean, and Oscar’s particular way of encountering the world. Unpredictably (by most people’s standards), he is indifferent to some things, sharply affected by others. His fears – of the outdoors, of night and the watching moon, of dogs, for example – are frequently disabling for him and unnerving for oth ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Elizabeth Harrower: Critical essays' edited by Elizabeth McMahon and Brigitta Olubas

March 2018, no. 399 22 February 2018
Susan Sheridan reviews 'Elizabeth Harrower: Critical essays' edited by Elizabeth McMahon and Brigitta Olubas
The appearance in 2014 of In Certain Circles, a new novel from Elizabeth Harrower, was an important literary event. The author, who still lives in Sydney, had published nothing since 1966 and had repeatedly maintained that she had nothing more to say. In Certain Circles had been ready for publication in 1971, but Harrower withdrew it. In interviews over the intervening period, she gave a number of ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Thea Astley: Selected poems' edited by Cheryl Taylor

November 2017, no. 396 27 October 2017
Susan Sheridan reviews 'Thea Astley: Selected poems' edited by Cheryl Taylor
Thea Astley had a way with words. Her novels are studded with arresting metaphors, atrocious puns, hilarious one-liners, arcane words, technical terms from music, geometry and logic, religious and literary allusions. Her verbal pyrotechnics can be dazzling and infuriating, in equal measure: as Helen Garner once wrote, it is a style that can drive you crazy. So it’s no surprise to learn that Astl ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'New and Selected Poems of Anna Wickham' edited by Nathanael O’Reilly

April 2017, no. 390 30 March 2017
Susan Sheridan reviews 'New and Selected Poems of Anna Wickham' edited by Nathanael O’Reilly
Rhymed verse is a wide netThrough which many subtleties escape.Nor would I take it to capture a strong thingSuch as a whale. This manifesto for free verse comes from a poet whose associates at the time included Harold Monro, Richard Aldington, and D.H. Lawrence in London, Harriet Monroe and Louis Untermeyer in New York, Natalie Clifford Barney in Paris. Anna Wickham (1883–1947) mixed with the m ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Call of the Outback' by Marianne van Velzen

April 2016, no. 380 24 March 2016
Susan Sheridan reviews 'Call of the Outback' by Marianne van Velzen
The long subtitle of this biography says it all. Hill was an immensely popular and influential travel writer in the 1930s and 1940s. Her books The Great Australian Loneliness (1937) and The Territory (1951) gathered together and built on the many stories she had written for city newspapers. She also published histories of the flying doctor medical service (Flying Doctor Calling, 1947) and of the d ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Australian Women War Reporters' by Jeannine Baker

January-February 2016, no. 378 21 December 2015
Susan Sheridan reviews 'Australian Women War Reporters' by Jeannine Baker
In this meticulously researched and eminently readable history, Jeannine Baker presents a gallery of impressive women who reported war news despite the obstacles put in their way by military authorities and press traditions alike. Along the way she deftly fills in key information about the conflicts involved, from the Boer War to Vietnam – a disturbing reminder of the extent to which Australia's ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'The Women's Pages' by Debra Adelaide

November 2015, no. 376 28 October 2015
Susan Sheridan reviews 'The Women's Pages' by Debra Adelaide
In this beautifully crafted novel, two parallel stories merge. Chapters alternate between Ellis, a young woman living in Sydney in the 1960s, and Dove, a thirty-eight-year-old woman in the present day. As the novel begins, Ellis is contemplating leaving her husband and taking her baby son with her; Dove is mourning the death of her adoptive mother – and writing a novel about Ellis. Dove's first ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'It's Raining in Mango' by Thea Astley

August 2015, no. 373 17 February 2015
It’s Raining in Mango: Pictures from the Family Album was first published in 1987, on the eve of the bicentenary of white settlement in Australia, when many versions of the story of Australia were advanced and debated. Thea Astley’s book presents a family, the Laffeys, as a microcosm of the national story. It is a novel made up of stories told by Connie, an ageing woman, as she mulls over ‘p ... (read more)

''Tirra Lirra' and Beyond - Jessica Anderson’s truthful fictions' by Susan Sheridan

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
‘Everyone I talk to remembers Tirra Lirra by the River as a wonderful book, sometimes even as a life-changing one. But why don’t we hear anything about it today?’ This was a young journalist who had been assigned to write Jessica Anderson’s obituary. Anderson, who died in Sydney on 9 July 2010, was the author of seven novels and a volume of stories, but it was her fourth published book, Ti ... (read more)

Susan Sheridan reviews 'Collected Poems: Lesbia Harford' edited by Oliver Dennis

November 2014, no. 366 01 November 2014
Susan Sheridan reviews 'Collected Poems: Lesbia Harford' edited by Oliver Dennis
In her short life (1891–1927), Lesbia Harford wrote hundreds of poems and a novel, took a law degree at the University of Melbourne, had love affairs with both women and men, worked as a machinist in clothing factories, and was active in the anti-conscription movement during World War I and the International Workers of the World (‘the Wobblies’). She was the quintessential modern woman of th ... (read more)
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