Ashley Hay

I was never brave enough to visit Pompeii, partly due to an overactive imagination that combined a sense of the ferocity of Vesuvius’s blast in 79 CE and the volcano’s ongoing muttering with thoughts of the city’s Roman residents, cauterised in the eruption: outstretched hands; a dog expiring mid-roll; a mother and her child ...

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A survey of environmental writing

Australian Book Review
Thursday, 28 September 2017

To complement our coverage of new books on the subject, we invited a number of writers, scholars, and environmentalists to nominate the books that have had the greatest effect on them from an environmental point of view.

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Hundred Small Lessons holds powerful truths, simply told. It is a story of parenthood and place, where small domestic moments, rather than dramatic public displays, are the links between people, the present and the past. Each moment occurs in and around a familiar, ordinary Brisbane house ...

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Open Page with Ashley Hay

Australian Book Review
Thursday, 30 March 2017

Why do you write? It’s a hopeful or optimistic thing, I think, to try to catch bits of life, large or small, and explore them, understand them, then offer them up to readers who might also connect with them or for whom they might make sense.

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News from the Editor's Desk - October 2016

Friday, 23 September 2016

News from the Editor's Desk in the October issue of Australian Book Review.

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In 2015, ABR published Ashley Hay's Dahl Trust Fellowship essay, titled 'The Forest at the Edge of Time', that examines ‘what our mongrel trees tell us about our past, the present, and the future’. The essay was the main feature in our October 2015 Environment issue. The ABR Podcast is available from iTunes and SoundCloud. You can also listen to episodes on our website.

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When David Attenborough's memoir Life on Air was published in 2002, the magazine I worked for arranged for me to interview him. By then I had been interviewing people for a while and thought myself quite unflusterable. I keyed in the number, listened to the dial tone. And then it was as if the call had been answered by God (interesting, as an atheist). My r ...

News from the Editor's desk - October 2015

Friday, 25 September 2015

Environmental times

For the second year in a row, generous support from the Bjarne K. Dahl Trust

'The Forest at the Edge of Time' by Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay
Thursday, 24 September 2015

Let’s begin, somewhere around 4,500 bce, in a small patch of soil on the south-west coast of Western Australia. An ovule and some pollen combine on the crest of a ridge overlooking the sea, and a plant begins to grow. It’s a little thing with juvenile leaves which will become a faint ...

As a woman and her daughter prepare to attend a memorial service for their husband and father, a railwayman, the girl offers the woman her kaleidoscope: ‘You could borrow this, Mum [...] You said it was good for seeing things differently.’ It is a resonant moment, the promise of a magical but fleeting distortion of reality both lovely and desperately sad. The sc ...