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Don Anderson

Don Anderson is the author/editor of eight books, collections of essays and reviews, and anthologies of prose, largely of texts from the Americas, Australia, and Europe. For fourteen years in the 1980s and 1990s he was a regular literary columnist in the National Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. He was for thirty years a member of the English department at the University of Sydney, where he taught American, Irish, and Australian literature, and literary theory. He was for some years a member of the Advisory Panel of ABR.

Don Anderson reviews ‘The Outside Story: A novel’ by Sylvia Lawson

November 2003, no. 256 01 November 2003
Sylvia Lawson is a distinguished cultural critic and essayist. Her award-winning The Archibald Paradox: A Strange Case of Authorship was published in 1983, and her collection of essays, How Simone de Beauvoir Died in Australia, won the 2003 Gleebooks Prize for literary and cultural criticism. In selecting the latter volume among my best books of 2002 for the Sydney Morning Herald, I claimed that i ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Leaving Suzie Pye' by John Dale

May 2010, no. 321 01 May 2010
The cover-blurb is a genre all its own. No sensible publisher would grace the cover of a book with the assertion, ‘This is a pile of crap’, even if it is. So we should all take a blurb cum granum salis. The blurb for John Dale’s Leaving Suzie Pye reads: ‘Rips along with verve and confidence … funny, energetic and full of life.’ The signatory is Helen Garner. Can this be the same Helen ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Gatherers and Hunters' by Thomas Shapcott

June 2010, issue no. 322 01 June 2010
Tom Shapcott’s most recent volume collects nine short stories and one novella from 1997 to 2005, the period during which he was the inaugural Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide. Of his thirty-two volumes, eleven are novels, three are collections of short stories, and eighteen are books of poetry. Tom has received the Patrick White Prize, Senior Fellowships from the Austr ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Radical Sydney: Places, Portraits, and Unruly Episodes' by Terry Irving and Rowan Cahill

July–August 2010, no. 323 01 July 2010
Witnesses as diverse as Plato in the Republic, James Joyce in Ulysses and Lewis Mumford in The City in History have testified that ultimately, in some metaphorical if not metaphysical sense, the City is, above all else, an expression of love. Terry Irving and Rowan Cahill, luminaries of the New Left in the 1960s and 1970s, currently associated with the University of Wollongong, are assuredly in lo ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Sun Shadow, Moon Shadow' by J. S. Harry and 'Heroic Money' by Gig Ryan

August 2001, no. 233 01 August 2001
They will get it straight one day at the Sorbonne.We shall return at twilight from the lecturePleased that the irrational is rational.Money is a kind of poetry. (Wallace Stevens) It may be a question not so much of what poetry we read but of how we read it. I confess myself to be a snail-pace reader – a Marianne Moore snail, that is – and rereader, above all a rereader. And the problem w ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Wyatt' by Garry Disher

February 2010, no. 318 11 October 2022
Why ‘Wyatt’? An evocative enough name for an Australian career criminal, but evocative of what, or whom? Of Wyatt Earp, perhaps, another gunman and homicide, if occasionally and famously on the right side of the law? Or Sir Thomas Wyatt, Tudor courtier, sensitive lover, diplomat and poet, who witnessed the execution of Anne Boleyn while himself a prisoner in the Tower of London? Garry Disher ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Rose Fancier' by Olga Masters

July 1988, no. 102 01 July 1988
I first made the acquaintance of Olga Masters’s writing some years back when a judge of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, for which her collection of stories The Home Girls had been submitted. I was immensely impressed by the control, passion, and implicit violence of the stories, and was of the impression that the book should win. But another judge, of considerable seniority, carried the day ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Below the Styx' by Michael Meehan

March 2010, no. 319 01 March 2010
'What’s in a name?’ as C.J. Dennis and Shakespeare asked. Maybe much, as in nomen: omen – maybe naught, as in the case of the narrator Michael Meehan’s fourth novel, Below the Styx. For this chap’s name is Martin Frobisher, a distinctive name that rings several bells. Sir Martin Frobisher (c.1535–94) was an English navigator who made three attempts from 1576 to 1578 to discover the Nor ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Mother’s Boy: A writer’s beginnings' by Howard Jacobson

July 2022, no. 444 25 June 2022
A Writer’s Beginnings begins: ‘My mother died today.’ One could be excused for thinking that one was reading not a memoir but a Campus Novel without the ‘p’, an experience that Howard Jacobson will suffer later in this book. Who could read this incipit without hearing the famous beginning: ‘Aujourd’hui maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.’ Jacobson, on the other han ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Nightpictures' by Rod Jones, including an author interview with Ramona Koval

December 1997–January 1998, no. 197 01 December 1997
‘Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo … the young Venetian says when he describes the cities visited on his expeditions [yet] only in Marco Polo’s accounts was Kublai Khan able to discern, through the walls and towers destined to crumble, the tracery of a pattern so subtle it could escape the termites’ gnawing.’ Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities A new novel from ... (read more)
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