Peter Pierce

Peter Pierce

Peter Pierce (1950-2018) was an Honorary Professor at Monash University. He edited The Cambridge History of Australian Literature and had been chief judge of the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction for the many years. Among his other books are From Go to Whoa: A Compendium of the Australian Turf; Australian Melodramas: Thomas Keneally's Fiction; and The Country of Lost Children.

Peter Pierce reviews 'The Trout Opera' by Matthew Condon

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
Peter Pierce reviews 'The Trout Opera' by Matthew Condon
Ten years in the making, Matthew Condon’s vibrant modern epic, The Trout Opera, has been worth the wait. It has an expansiveness and generosity of spirit that has become uncommon in Australian fiction (unless we think of an altogether different book, but on a similar scale, Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria, 2006). Sent in 1996 to report on the slow death of the Snowy River, Condon met the storied o ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'One Fourteenth of an Elephant: A memoir of life and death on the Burma-Thailand Railway' by Ian Denys Peek, and 'If This Should Be Farewell: A family separated by war' by Adrian Wood (ed.)

April 2003, no. 250 01 April 2003
Peter Pierce reviews 'One Fourteenth of an Elephant: A memoir of life and death on the Burma-Thailand Railway' by Ian Denys Peek, and 'If This Should Be Farewell: A family separated by war' by Adrian Wood (ed.)
These two unusual books reflect on aspects of the prisoner-of-war experience in Singapore, Thailand and Burma during World War II that have not been much canvassed in Australia. One Fourteenth of an Elephant, Ian Denys Peek’s sometimes irascible ‘memoir of life and death on the Burma-Thailand Railway’, relates the experiences of a member of the Singapore Volunteer Armoured Car Company. Peek ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'A Companion to Australian Literature Since 1900' by Nicholas Birns and Rebecca McNeer (eds)

February 2008, no. 298 01 February 2008
Peter Pierce reviews 'A Companion to Australian Literature Since 1900' by Nicholas Birns and Rebecca McNeer (eds)
When G.B. Barton presented his two works concerning the literary history of New South Wales to the Paris Exhibition of 1866, he hoped that they would enable readers ‘to form an exact idea of the progress, extent and prospects of literary enterprise among us’. The words are succinct, unobjectionable, and their sentiments influenced much of the literary history of the next century, much as the p ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'Lines of Fire: Manning Clark and Other Writings' by Peter Ryan

December 1997–January 1998, no. 197 15 December 2021
Peter Pierce reviews 'Lines of Fire: Manning Clark and Other Writings' by Peter Ryan
This collection of Peter Ryan’s writings, Lines of Fire, is no grab-bag of oddments. The pieces included here are given an impressive unity by the author’s imposition of his presence, by his trenchancy, elegance of expression, a desire to honour the men and women of his younger days and to excoriate a present Australia in which too many people wallow in ‘an unwholesome masochistic guilt’. ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'The Sleep of a Learning Man' by Anthony Lawrence

March 2004, no. 259 01 March 2004
Peter Pierce reviews 'The Sleep of a Learning Man' by Anthony Lawrence
The Sleep of a Learning Man is the sixth verse collection from the gifted and exacting Anthony Lawrence. He has also written a novel. The epigraph to this book gives some hint as to where the poet stands, and where he intends to go. It is from Antonio Porcia: ‘I am chained to the earth to pay for the freedom of my eyes.’ But looking is only one means to find his way, a dilemma that a number of ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'Tom Roberts' by Humphrey McQueen

May 1996, no. 180 01 May 1996
Peter Pierce reviews 'Tom Roberts' by Humphrey McQueen
Almost at the end of his very long biography, Tom Roberts, Humphrey McQueen wonders why – if Australian landscape painting had so much need of a father – ‘no-one thought to install Margaret Preston as the mother’ of the genre? He has a suggestive answer to a question which needed to be posed: That landscape art should seek a father when our culture describes nature and the earth as moth ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'The Silence Calling: Australians in Antarctica 1947–97' by Tim Bowden

September 1997, no. 194 01 September 1997
Peter Pierce reviews 'The Silence Calling: Australians in Antarctica 1947–97' by Tim Bowden
As Tim Bowden would well remember, the ties of Hobart to the Antarctic have been visible long before the transfer of the Antarctic Division from Melbourne to Kingston, south of Hobart, in 1982, and the establishment of the Institute of Antarctic and Oceanic Studies at the University of Tasmania six years later. From the 1950s, the chartered Scandinavian vessels that carried members of the Australi ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'Dilemma' by John Cleary and 'Fetish' by Tara Moss

April 2000, no. 219 01 April 2000
Peter Pierce reviews 'Dilemma' by John Cleary and 'Fetish' by Tara Moss
Let us start with the similarities: two thrillers, set mainly in Sydney, each with a would-be snappy but jaded one word tide. On each a stiletto-heeled shoe is part of the cover design. There the ways seem to part. Dilemma is John Cleary’s forty-ninth novel in a career of six decades and marks the sixteenth appearance of Detective Scobie Malone. For Canadian-born, former model Tara Moss, Fetish ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'A Companion to Australian Literature Since 1900' edited by Nicholas Birns and Rebecca McNeer

February 2008, no. 298 01 February 2008
Peter Pierce reviews 'A Companion to Australian Literature Since 1900' edited by Nicholas Birns and Rebecca McNeer
When G.B. Barton presented his two works concerning the literary history of New South Wales to the Paris Exhibition of 1866, he hoped that they would enable readers ‘to form an exact idea of the progress, extent and prospects of literary enterprise among us’. The words are succinct, unobjectionable, and their sentiments influenced much of the literary history of the next century, much as the p ... (read more)

Peter Pierce reviews 'The Brisbane Line Controversy' by Paul Burns

June 1998, no. 201 01 June 1998
Peter Pierce reviews 'The Brisbane Line Controversy' by Paul Burns
The title is not provocative: The Brisbane Line Controversy, but Paul Burns’s subtitle flags the partisanship that will mark his study. This is a case, he contends, of ‘Political Partisanship versus National Security 1942–45’. His conclusion is unobjectionable: ‘belief in a “Brisbane Line” was our barometer of fear about the vulnerability of our own continent which no Australian Army ... (read more)
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