Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

Geordie Williamson

Geordie Williamson

Geordie Williamson is the author of The Burning Library: Our greatest novelists lost and found (2011).

Geordie Williamson reviews 'Bernard Shaw: A life' by A.M. Gibbs

June-July 2006, no. 282 01 June 2006
However respectful its intentions, literary biography invariably takes on the character of a siege, laid by oneself against another. Every biographical subject, unwittingly or not, builds fortifications to repulse such invaders, and George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) was no exception. He did, however, adopt a characteristically sly defence. His castle was regularly open to the public. Inside, he wo ... (read more)

Geordie Williamson reviews 'Meanjin vol. 65 no. 2, On Cities', 'Overland 183: The New Australian Ugliness' and 'Heat 11: Sheltered Lives'

September 2006, no. 284 01 September 2006
The idea that literary journals gain something by being yoked to a single theme seems to me one of the mildly dubious aspects of the enterprise. I suspect the tendency grows from a fear of disorder – ‘the anarchy of randomness’, as Adam Phillips puts it. But if these organs do require some unifying concept, it should ideally be a determination on the part of their contributors not to be herd ... (read more)

Geordie Williamson reviews ' Reading Boyishly: Roland Barthes, J.M. Barrie, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Marcel Proust and D.W. Winnicott' by Carol Mavor

September 2008, no. 304 01 September 2008
Carol Mavor is professor of Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester: a specialist in the field of Victorian photography who has written two earlier books on the subject. She is also one of those rare figures capable of subverting orthodox academic research by stealing some of autobiography’s subjective insight and creative writing’s imaginative reach. ... (read more)

Geordie Williamson reviews 'Mark Twain: The adventures of Samuel L. Clemens' by Jerome Loving

June 2010, issue no. 322 01 June 2010
Ernest Hemingway once wrote that ‘all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn’. We might add that Oz Lit owes Twain a little something, too. Henry Lawson, who was born in 1867 (the same year as Twain’s first book, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County), was a great admirer of the American and claimed to have read ‘all of Twain’. Chr ... (read more)

Geordie Williamson reviews 'Be Mine' by Richard Ford

August 2023, no. 456 24 July 2023
When pushed to vote on the bleakest poem among Philip Larkin’s death-obsessed body of work, most would likely stump for his late masterpiece ‘Aubade’, that arid interrogation of human finitude. Yet his ‘The Building’, from 1972, is in many ways a more savage appraisal of individual extinction and the structures we build in an attempt to deny it: ‘Higher than the handsomest hotel / The ... (read more)

Geordie Williamson reviews 'The Pole and Other Stories' by J.M. Coetzee

July 2023, no. 455 27 June 2023
The aphorist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg likened reviews to ‘a kind of childhood illness to which newborn books are subject to a greater or lesser degree’, like measles or mumps, which kill a few but leave the rest only mildly marked. But how should we consider reviews of books that come late in an author’s career? In instances such as these, the reviewer is tempted to avoid any chance of ... (read more)

Geordie Williamson reviews 'Victory City' by Salman Rushdie

March 2023, no. 451 16 February 2023
Salman Rushdie has long inspired ambivalence among readers. His talent has never been seriously in question – witness the swift canonisation and enduring affection accorded his second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981) – nor have his bona fides as a public intellectual who has stood against intolerance and cant, even under the threat of death. Yet his body of work has been marked by fictions ... (read more)

Geordie Williamson reviews 'Eggs for Keeps: Poetry reviews and other praise' by Barry Hill

January-February 2023, no. 450 28 December 2022
'The point is to deal with the stuff itself,’ wrote John Berryman. He was referring to Randall Jarrell, paragon of mid-century poet-critics – one who did, indeed, deal with the stuff itself, writing of poetry with the practical competence of a mechanic who knew his way around an engine, having built a few himself – but he could just as easily be speaking of Barry Hill. With eleven collectio ... (read more)

Geordie Williamson reviews 'The Last Days of Roger Federer: And other endings' by Geoff Dyer

November 2022, no. 448 25 October 2022
As chance would have it, this review was written following the retirement, aged forty-one, of Roger Federer from top-tier competitive tennis. Federer’s decision might be regarded as tricky for Geoff Dyer, since his latest work of essayistic autofiction leans heavily on the notion that while Federer, one of the giants of the sport, is forever about to retire, he never actually does. But pedantic ... (read more)

Geordie Williamson reviews 'Lessons' by Ian McEwan

October 2022, no. 447 26 September 2022
John Updike said of his most enduring creation, Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, that he was a version of the author who never went to college. Roland Baine, protagonist of Lessons, is something similar: a McEwan that failed. He’s a man whose early gifts aren’t brought to fruition. His closest brush with literary fame is brief: early marriage to a woman who becomes the kind of artist he could neve ... (read more)
Page 1 of 3