Robert Dessaix: As I Was Saying

Jane Goodall
Monday, 27 February 2012

Grand illusion

Jane Goodall


by Robert Dessaix
Vintage, $27.95 pb, 224 pp, 9781742753072


‘I’m sitting in my tower, cogitating.’ Well, Dessaix admits, it’s not a real tower, though he likes to think of ...

War is one of the great paradoxes of Australia. Why should a people occupying a continent so far from the world’s trouble spots have spent so much of their history dying in often distant wars? It is one of the questions that drew me to the study of Australian history. I am little the wiser after reading this collection of Australian war writing. This is partly bec ...

Melinda Harvey reviews Margaret Atwood's 'In Other Worlds'

Melinda Harvey
Friday, 20 January 2012

As contemporary author fan bases go, Margaret Atwood’s must be among the broadest. She is read at crèches, on university campuses, and in nursing homes. Feminists, birders, and would-be writers jostle to see her perform at literary festivals. Yet despite an Arthur C. Clarke Award and, in her own words ...

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The ABC Shop is currently selling online The Best Australian Stories 2010 for $14.99. ‘Ideal for summer reading’ its advertising says, and it surely doesn’t matter which summer. At that price you might get yourself a copy and sling it in your beach bag, unless you suspect it might dampen your holiday mood. More than a few reviewers found the overall tone of the collection bleak a ...

Amore appropriate moniker for this year’s Black Inc. collection might be ‘Bleak Australian Stories 2010’. Either the editor’s taste runs to the morose or Australian writers need to venture outside and enjoy the sunshine a little more...

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The great Russian short story writer Ivan Bunin said that in the process of becoming a writer, ‘one learns not to invent, but to see clearly...

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While the stories in The Kid on the Karaoke Stage vary thematically, they are predominantly realist in style, with plenty of seemingly serendipitous through-lines. Georgia Richter, who has edited the collection superbly, says that she was interested in ‘the way we turn to writing to crystallise moments of realisation’. The authors all have links to West ...

Does the title of this anthology, heralded by its editors as the first collection of Australian gay/lesbian/queer poetry, refer to the myth of Pandora’s pithos? Hesiod’s version of the story, which sees Pandora as the unleasher of all manner of evils on the (‘rational’/patriarchal) world, has been interrogated by feminist scholars who see Pandora in an older incarnation of ‘gift-giver’, bestower of plenitude, crosser of boundaries. Or does ‘Out of the Box’ have a more colloquial sense – ‘exceptional’, ‘surprising’? Whatever the reasoning behind the title, Michael Farrell and Jill Jones have made choices which should provoke debate (among other things) about gay and lesbian identity and community, and about the relationship between poet and reader.

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Switched On showcases the careers of twenty-nine ‘influential’ women who work in the media. Catherine Hanger, interviewer and former editor of Vogue Australia, believes that Switched On ‘connects two major spheres of influence in our society – the media and the women who work in it’ – and argues that the influence of these women is ‘very powerful indeed’. While the title promises ‘conversations’, Hanger, strangely, omits her questions. Perhaps she asked just one: ‘How did you become editor of Australian Women’s Weekly/an SBS news presenter/a film reviewer/a PR adviser to PBL/host of Media Watch?’

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