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Melinda Harvey

Melinda Harvey is Lecturer in English at Monash University. She has been a book critic for nearly twenty years, with reviews and commentary appearing in major Australian newspapers and magazines including Australian Book Review, The Australian, The Age, and the Sydney Review of Books. She was a finalist in the 2020 Pascall Prize for Arts Criticism.

Melinda Harvey reviews ‘Cultural Studies Review: Desecration vol. 11, no. 1’ edited by Chris Healy & Stephen Muecke and ‘Australian Historical Studies vol. 36, no. 125’ edited by Joy Damousi

August 2005, no. 273 01 August 2005
Evil empire or fellow citizen? It seems to me that the arguments and counterarguments about America’s role in the world today run parallel to the debates concerning cultural studies’ standing in the humanities. It’s a thought that would have Raymond Williams rolling in his grave, of course. As an academic discipline, cultural studies was born Marxist, and reared to champion the local, the un ... (read more)

Melinda Harvey reviews ‘The God of Spring’ by Arabella Edge

March 2006, no. 279 01 March 2006
Disaster has always shadowed the traveller. Today’s adventurers differ from their forebears only in the kinds of calamity they have cause to fear. Arabella Edge’s second novel – like her first, the award-winning The Company (2000) – will have readers thanking their lucky stars that shipwreck, at least, has gone the way of history. As its cover suggests, The God of Spring centres on Théodo ... (read more)

Melinda Harvey reviews ‘Antipodes: The North American journal of Australian literature, Vol. 19, No. 2’ edited by Nicholas Birns

August 2006, no. 283 01 August 2006
Towards the end of the current issue of Antipodes (Vol. 19, No. 2, edited by Nicholas Birns, US$18 pb, 135 pp), Bev Braune asks the questions, ‘Who is the reader? And how many of us are there?’ Braune is not referring to Antipodes and its audience. Nonetheless, the questions stand. Academic journals challenge our more romantic notions of readers and reading. As a general rule, they make poor b ... (read more)

Melinda Harvey reviews 'Meanjin Vol. 64, No. 4, 2005' edited by Ian Britain and 'Overland No. 181, Summer 2005' edited by Nathan Hollier

April 2006, no. 280 01 April 2006
Like Monaco, journals are sunny places for shady people. Black sheep and dark horses have often found a first sanctuary there. Precarious principalities, they are built on the shifting sands of subsidies, sponsorships and subscriptions. But their lifeblood is won or lost at the roulette wheel of submissions and commissions. You can tell a lot about a journal by the kind of company it keeps. The l ... (read more)

Melinda Harvey reviews 'Spiel' by David Sornig

November 2009, no. 316 01 November 2009
Back in 2007, his academic cap firmly fastened, David Sornig wrote in the pages of Antipodes: ‘Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city [of Berlin] has, more than any other, become thought of as the place where, in Fukuyaman terms, history actually ended. In this sense it is the eschatological city par excellence.’ It is a curiosity of sorts that Australian writers have been in the front st ... (read more)

Melinda Harvey reviews 'The Garden Book' by Brian Castro

October 2005, no. 275 01 October 2005
These are hostile times for literary fiction in Australia. New novels are well advised to don flak, not flap, jackets. And it’s not just a simple case of critics sniping from the sidelines, wanting their piece of the action. This is a full-blown civil war involving all the vested interests – publishers, editors, journalists, publicists and booksellers – not just writers and readers. The smar ... (read more)

Melinda Harvey reviews 'Overland 185', 'Island 106' and 'Griffith Review 14'

March 2007, no. 289 26 August 2022
Literature aspires to be read twice; journalism demands to be read once, Cyril Connolly declared. Between the book and the newspaper lies the journal, juggler of both, simply wanting to be read. In its quest for a readership over the past three hundred years – diligent or dilettantish, it hasn’t been fussy – the journal has banked on the perenniality of the literary and the urgency of the jo ... (read more)

Melinda Harvey reviews 'Second Place' by Rachel Cusk

August 2021, no. 434 22 July 2021
In Second Place, the narrator, M, reminisces about the time she invited the artist L to stay on her remote property ‘on the marsh’. Fifteen years earlier in Paris, a painting of L’s on a poster advertising a major retrospective of his art had spoken to M of ‘absolute freedom’. She was then ‘a young mother on the brink of rebellion’. The night before she had allowed a famous writer ... (read more)

Melinda Harvey reviews 'The Book of Human Skin' by Michelle Lovric

July–August 2010, no. 323 01 July 2010
The Book of Human Skin details the trials and tribulations of an innocent Venetian noblewoman named Marcella Fasan, a girl ‘so sinned agin tis like Job in a dress’, Gianni delle Boccole, loyal family servant and bad speller, explains. Marcella’s principal antagonist is her older brother Minguillo, who, out of filial jealousy and a desire to be the sole heir to the family’s New World fortu ... (read more)

Melinda Harvey reviews 'Bark' by Lorrie Moore

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
In Bark’s second story, ‘The Juniper Tree’, an unnamed narrator sings ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ with calculated slowness to alter ‘not just the attitude of the song but the actual punctuation, turning it into a protest and question’. Lorrie Moore’s writing career to date strikes a similar counterbalance between form and content: irrepressible linguistic exuberance tempers – and ... (read more)
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