Alison Broinowski reviews 'Subtle Moments: Scenes on a life’s journey' by Bruce Grant

Alison Broinowski reviews 'Subtle Moments: Scenes on a life’s journey' by Bruce Grant

Subtle Moments: Scenes on a life’s journey

by Bruce Grant

Monash University Publishing $34.95 pb, 448 pp, 9781925495355

Opposite a handsome portrait of him by Louis Kahan, Bruce Grant introduces his memoir of a ‘life’s journey’ by proposing that it is also a biography of Australia, and promising to revisit that on the last page. There, he summarises the plots of ‘Love in the Asian Century’, his recent trilogy of e-books, in which affairs between older men and younger women, Australian and Asian, start with enthusiasm, but are doomed to fail. The metaphor for the relationship between Australia and Asia is overt.

Stories about Australians abroad on what Grant calls a ‘crusade,’ clashing with Asian cultures and identities, and having affairs that end unhappily, are themes that prevailed when he began writing his novel Cherry Bloom (1980). The eponymous young Australian wife of a stuffy British diplomat in Singapore wants ‘desperately to connect’. Knowing no Asian language or history, she finds an American lover and learns about life and ‘ancient Chinese wisdom’, but eventually leaves for home.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in April 2017, no. 390
Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski has lived, worked and frequently travelled in Japan. She was Australia's cultural attaché in Tokyo in the mid-1980s and has recently contributed a chapter, with Rachel Miller, on the history of the Australian Embassy, to a book on Australia–Japan relations edited at Deakin University.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.