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Alex O'Brien

Alex O'Brien

Alex O’Brien is a Melbourne reviewer.

Alex O'Brien reviews 'A Country Too Far: Writings on Asylum Seekers' edited by Rosie Scott and Tom Keneally

March 2014, no. 359 28 February 2014
Australia is a country that will not be intimidated by its own decency. On 28 August 2001, as a detail of Special Air Services soldiers was dispatched to MV Tampa, Prime Minister John Howard spoke about the 438 people – mostly Afghan Hazaras – who languished aboard the freighter. ‘We are humane people,’ he told Mike Munro. ‘[B]ut on the other hand, I have to worry and my colleagues have ... (read more)

Alex O'Brien reviews 'Mr Snack and the Lady Water' by Brendan Shanahan

September 2013, no. 354 27 August 2013
Much travel is unpleasant (with over-expectations, too many tourists, and long distances from Australia), but even the sedentary or timorous persist with it in some ‘misguided duty to culture’, as Brendan Shanahan describes in his first collection of essays, Mr Snack and the Lady Water. Assembling journeys from the mid-1990s until now, Shanahan recounts stories that range from the inequities o ... (read more)

Alex O'Brien reviews 'The 2013 Voiceless Anthology' edited by J.M. Coetzee et al.

March 2013, no. 349 08 March 2013
‘Death has a dual character,’ Zadie Smith writes in her novel The Autograph Man (2002); ‘it seems to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time’. Popular culture is currently awash with cookery programs and diet fads, yet the lives of animals, and the industries that deal in their deaths, have never been more absent from city life. It seems reasonable, therefore, that all ten stories short ... (read more)

Alex O’Brien reviews 'Us and Them: On the importance of animals' (Quarterly Essay 45) by Anna Krien

April 2012, no. 340 01 April 2012
Whether the focus is on Japanese whaling or the slaughter of livestock in Indonesia, the Australian public has strong views on how animals should be treated abroad – less so when the problem is closer to home. Anna Krien’s Quarterly Essay is an incisive narrative account of our ‘nuanced and often contradictory relationship’ with animals: ranging from the live cattle trade to our use of pri ... (read more)

Alex O’Brien reviews 'HipsterMattic' by Matt Granfield

February 2012, no. 338 20 January 2012
In the past, a twenty-something could exemplify le dernier cri without having to dispense with his bicycle gears, reflectors, and brakes. Worry not. An infinitely cooler trend – less prone to vehicular mishap – is doubtless on its way to erase fixed-gear bikes, or ‘fixies’, from the palimpsest that is sub-cultural fashion. HipsterMattic, blogger Matt Granfield’s amusing début memoir, re ... (read more)