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Rachel Buchanan

Rachel Buchanan

Rachel Buchanan is the curator of the Germaine Greer Archive, University of Melbourne, and a former ABR Fellow.

Rachel Buchanan reviews ‘Man of Water’ by Chris McLeod and ‘Sunnyside’ by Joanna Murray-Smith

December 2005–January 2006, no. 277 01 December 2005
Do families aid creativity or do they stifle it? Does art require freedom and solitude, the luxuries of long, introspective walks on beaches and bottles of red for one, or can art arise from the chaos and banality of domestic life with a spouse and children? Alice Haskins, the female lead of Melbourne playwright Joanna Murray-Smith’s third novel, is a forty-year-old writer who occupies a gorgeo ... (read more)

Rachel Buchanan reviews 'Great Writers Great Loves: The reinvention of love in the twentieth century' by Ann-Marie Priest

August 2006, no. 283 01 August 2006
If this is love, then we are all in trouble. Addiction, infidelity, cruelty, violence, obsession, depression, repression, jealousy, impotence, the neglect of children and a whole lot of hysterical personal correspondence are features of the love affairs conducted by the eight writers who are the subject of this disconcerting book. ... (read more)

Rachel Buchanan reviews 'Breastwork: Rethinking Breastfeeding' by Alison Bartlett, 'Mixed Blessings' by Deborah Lee and 'The Gift: Grandmothers and Grandchildren Today' by Judy Lumby

May 2006, no. 281 01 May 2006
When I was seven, a teenage orphan called Katherine came to stay with us for the summer holidays. Katherine had short red hair, freckles and brown eyes. She loved play-fighting and running, and hated wearing dresses and skirts. The only skirt I ever saw her wear was the navy blue one that was part of her school uniform. When the school holidays ended, Katherine stayed and became our foster sister. ... (read more)

Rachel Buchanan reviews 'In My Skin: A memoir' by Kate Holden

September 2005, no. 274 01 September 2005
Melbourne woman Kate Holden’s memoir of being a heroin user and of working as a prostitute to fund her habit opens with a quote from Virgil: ‘To descend into hell is easy. But to return – what work, what a labour it is!’ The quote is at odds with the life story Holden constructs in this brave, explicit, and extremely well-written book. Far from being a kind of hell, Holden represents prost ... (read more)

Rachel Buchanan reviews 'A Mother's Story' by Rosie Batty with Bryce Corbett

December 2015, no. 377 25 November 2015
I was halfway through A Mother's Story when my oldest daughter asked how I would review it. 'Will you talk about the writing, mum, or the content?' she said. 'You could bring personal experience into it because you are a mother too. You'll read it differently from me.' Lily is fourteen. She is rarely interested in the same books as me and she has never asked about my writing. In fact, she can be ... (read more)

Rachel Buchanan reviews 'Silent Shock' by Michael Magazanik

August 2015, no. 373 29 July 2015
Silent Shock is an ambitious, important book. It is a work of history, a work of journalism, and a forensic exposé of hideous corporate negligence, all woven around the lives of one modest Melbourne family. Former journalist turned lawyer Michael Magazanik was one of the dozens of lawyers, barristers, and researchers who worked on a recent class action against Grünenthal, the manufacturer of th ... (read more)

Rachel Buchanan reviews 'David Syme: Man of The Age' by Elizabeth Morrison

October 2014, no. 365 01 October 2014
David Syme made his name and his fortune in newspapers – specifically The Age – and his life’s course might be compared with the workings of a gigantic web offset press. I have watched such machines at work. They start off slow; the rolls of naked newsprint snake by gently, round and round. When the presses roar to life the noise is astonishing; the paper is stretched like the thinnest of s ... (read more)

Rachel Buchanan reviews 'A Concise History of New Zealand' by Philippa Mein

February 2012, no. 338 20 January 2012
New Zealand coins often sneak into Australian purses. Both currencies bear the queen’s, and some coins have common colonial symbols on the front (Cook’s Endeavour on the Kiwi fifty cent, for example), but these coins only work by stealth. They have value if they can pass as Australian. Recognised for what they are – foreign objects – their currency evaporates. ... (read more)

ABR Sidney Myer Fund Fellowship: 'Sweeping Up the Ashes' by Rachel Buchanan

December 2011–January 2012, no. 337 25 November 2011
The book in my hand is a Letts Diary, 11B, made in England. The diary is small, no bigger than a child’s hand. It belonged to a boy named Michael Snell. Clearly he loved school; his first entries list the subjects he studied each day. On 23 January 1950 Michael wrote: ‘Had a letter sent went to school … we had our second injection against typhoid fever getting excited.’ On 24 January he wr ... (read more)