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.

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Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski

Alison Broinowski has been a reviewer for ABR since 1962, concentrating mainly on Asian fiction and international affairs. She is an Australian former diplomat and has taught and researched at ANU, Macquarie, and Wollongong Universities. The eleven books she has written and edited are about the interface between Australia and Asian countries.

Published in April 2017, no. 390

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