Matthew Condon

In 2013, Matthew Condon published Three Crooked Kings, the first in his true crime series delving into the murky, sordid, and often brutal world of police corruption in Queensland.  That year, he wrote in Australian Book Review that, after finishing his trilogy,  he planned to ‘swan dive into the infinitely more comfortable genre of fiction’ ...

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All Fall Down, set in 1980s Queensland, chronicles the direct and indirect links between officials and local criminals exposed by the Fitzgerald Inquiry (1987–89). It is the last volume in a trilogy that largely focuses on police corruption between the 1940s and 1980s, but there is also som ...

My middle-aged dreams are somehow linked to the assorted day-to-day anxieties that come with the territory. When I was young, I had a recurring dream in which a man dressed in black and wearing a fedora stepped out of the cupboard at the end of the bed and stood over me. Years later a psychic told me it was my grandfather, signwriter and poet George Baker, who died when I was eight months old.

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In April 2012, barely a week after Queensland had elected a conservative government to office for the first time in twenty-six years, Campbell Newman announced the abolition of the state-funded premier’s literary awards. The decision, despite disingenuous claims to the contrary, was entirely symbolic, coming as it did before Newman’s Liberal National Party ...

Matthew Condon is a writer who confounds expectations. He followed his prize-winning epic novel The Trout Opera (2007) with Brisbane (2010), a meditative exploration of the city’s rich history. In The Toe Tag Quintet, he turns his hand to crime. This is not a novel but a series of novellas about a detective’s exploits following his retiremen ...

Brisbane by Matthew Condon

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October 2010, no. 325

Novelist Gilbert Parker’s appraisal of Brisbane, penned during his visit in 1889 and quoted by Matthew Condon in this new, impressionistic history of the city, is not one that Condon wants to repeat, yet is powerless to refute: ‘Brisbane is not the least poetical … There is a sense of disappointment, which grows deeper as the sojourn in the capital is continued.’

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John Docker

Mark Davis’ Voltairean Gangland is one of those rare books that prise open a space for revaluation of the direction of a culture. Like The Dunciad’s evocation of the Grub Street hacks of its time, Gangland exposes tentacular networks of chummy patronage, mutual puffery, and cultural power. Gangland is especially enjoyable on the clown-like behaviour of the ex-Scripsi diaspora – in a curious sexual division of labour, a B-team of male critics, captained by the felicitously named P. Craven, has successfully promoted a coterie of writers like Jolley, Garner, and Modjeska. Compared to those I analyse in Australian Cultural Elites (1974) and In A Critical Condition (1984), this new élite is the most intellectually thin in Australian cultural history. Assisted by a passive, grovelling middle-class readership, it both creates such writers as canonical and then tries desperately to shield their texts from critique and challenge.

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Usher by Matthew Condon

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September 1991, no. 134

The usher of the book’s title is T. Nelson Downs, long-time resident of Burleigh Heads. (The T. Doesn’t stand for anything; it was a parental whim.) He’s one of those wonderful, original, exasperating people full of impossible ideas (such as marketing gigantic ice sculptures for public occasions using skilled tradesmen brought out especially from Florence).

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