With a regular stream of vulgar tweets from President Trump and a tsunami of sexual harassment charges against prominent men, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the nasty side of masculine privilege in our current world. The narcissistic man who manipulates others to satisfy his sense of power has become a recognised figure in public life. Craig Sherborne’s Off the Record is a satire that relies on reader outrage at such behaviour, but it is hard to avoid a sense that he has been unlucky with the timing of this novel. There are times when the large-scale absurdities of the real world can make a satire look tame. The fictional world Sherborne creates is a kind of petty provincial version of the masculine privilege and bullying behaviour we see in the daily news feed.
Susan Lever is the author of David Foster: The Satirist of Australia (Cambria Press, 2008) and general editor of Cambria Press’s Australian Literature Series. She has published widely on Australian literary history and contemporary Australian fiction, and is currently conducting interviews with Australian television writers for the Australian Writers’ Foundation Oral History project. She is completing a book on Australian television dramatists. Susan Lever’s interviews with Australian screenwriters are accessible through the National Film and Sound Archive, samples can be found here.
From the New Issue
The Europeans: Three lives and the making of a cosmopolitan culture by Orlando FigesReviewed by Michael Shmith
The Manner of Their Going: Prime ministerial exits in Australia by Norman AbjorensenReviewed by Lyndon Megarrity