Ian Britain

It is an eerie measure of a movie’s power when you come out at the end of it and sense, however fleetingly, that you’re still a part of its world, or that its world is all but indistinguishable from the everyday one you’ve just re-entered. German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was grand master of this trick. His compatriot Pina Bau ...

‘Absolutely charming – slim, handsome, nice speaking voice and manner, a super-gent’: it might be a line from an old-fashioned dalliance column, but it is from one of the letters published in this volume, and Patrick Leigh Fermor, writing to one of his most regular and lustrous correspondents, Debo Devonshire, youngest of the ...

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Ian Britain reviews 'Worlds Apart' by David Plante

Ian Britain
Tuesday, 22 December 2015

How has David Plante managed to become as prolific a novelist as he has when so much of his time has been spent in flitting between gallery openings in New York, dinner parties and book launches in London, idyllic holidays in Italy and Greece, and teaching in Tulsa, Oklahoma? And those are just a few of the 'worlds apart' recounted in this so-called memoir – the b ...

Ian Britain reviews 'Bill' by Scott Bevan

Ian Britain
Monday, 02 March 2015

‘He was a great bloke, a gentleman and a scholar,’ one of Scott Bevan’s interviewees says of his subject, the fêted and (at one stage) ill-fated painter, William Dobell. Like many others in the book, this interviewee got to know Dobell at Wangi Wangi, the little coastal township just south of Newcastle in New South Wales where the painter retreated for the la ...

Ian Britain reviews two titles on Walter Spies

Ian Britain
Thursday, 25 September 2014

‘Spellbinding’ is an apt word to sum up the effects created by Russian-born German artist Walter Spies in his phantasmagoric, darkly glowing landscapes and figure paintings, particularly those that he fashioned when living in Java and Bali between 1923 and 1941. Tropical luxuriance has other superlative renderers in art – Gauguin, ‘Le Douanier’ Rousseau, D ...

Ian Britain reviews 'The Two Frank Thrings'

Ian Britain
Thursday, 27 September 2012

How lucky we were! My ‘baby boomer’ generation in Melbourne grew up on stories of the second Frank Thring (1926–94), which competed in outrageousness with the anecdotes we heard of Barry Humphries; and throughout the 1960s we had the opportunity – more so in the case of Thring, who had now settled back in Melbourne as a regular performer on stage and televis ...

Patrick McCaughey reviews 'The Donald Friend Diaries' by Ian Britain

Patrick McCaughey
Wednesday, 16 November 2011

For some sixty years Donald Friend kept a diary, making his final entry just days before his death in 1989 at the age of seventy-four. The National Library of Australia published them in four massive volumes between 2001 and 2006. They were intractable. You needed an axe to cut through the stream of consciousness which flowed from an uncensoring pen ...

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Michael Holroyd: A Book of Secrets

Ian Britain
Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Grand follies

Ian Britain

 

A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers
by Michael Holroyd
Chatto & Windus, $46.95 hb, 270 pp, 9780701185343

 

In a review on quite another subject for ABR’s recent summer issue (‘Barry by ...