Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

Michael Winkler

Michael Winkler lives in Melbourne. His most recent book is Grimmish (Puncher & Wattmann). He was the winner of the 2016 Calibre Essay Prize. 

Michael Winkler reviews 'Family: Stories of belonging', edited by Alaina Gougoulis and Ian See

June 2023, no. 454 23 May 2023
The nuclear family has a bad literary rap. As we know from fiction and memoir, the traditional two-heterosexual-parents-and-biological-kids model, a structure that provides stability and nourishment for some, can also be a stricture, a disappointment, even a crucible of cruelty. The opening sentence of Anna Karenina notwithstanding, unhappiness is unhappiness; there are common experiences for the ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Birnam Wood' by Eleanor Catton

April 2023, no. 452 28 March 2023
Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood is a thriller that, for much of its length, privileges reflection over action. Thus, when aspiring journalist Tony Gallo makes it back to his car after multiple threats to his life, does he speed away from his potential assassins in search of safety? He does not. Instead, he has a good long ponder: He was so staggered that he started to laugh, but his laughter sub ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'The Bell of the World' by Gregory Day

March 2023, no. 451 25 February 2023
Early in Gregory Day’s new novel, Uncle Ferny reads Such Is Life aloud in a Roman bar. His niece Sarah observes listeners’ ‘confusion, amusement, their disdain, their curiosity, and also their rapture’. A similar range of responses might be manifested by readers of The Bell of the World. This is a novel in which Ferny’s extolling of Joseph Furphy’s genius erupts in a ‘jugulating tor ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'The Facemaker: One surgeon’s battle to mend the disfigured soldiers of World War I' by Lindsey Fitzharris

November 2022, no. 448 21 October 2022
Two millennia before ‘pretty privilege’ became a TikTok talking point, Publilius Syrus averred, ‘A beautiful face is a mute recommendation.’ The opposite is also true. Facial disfiguration, whether congenital or acquired, can be psychologically and socially debilitating. This was the experience for thousands of men in World War I who suffered horrific facial trauma. US surgeon Fred Albee, ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Nimblefoot' by Robert Drewe

August 2022, no. 445 28 July 2022
The National Portrait Gallery owns a minuscule sepia studio photograph titled ‘Master Johnny Day, Australian Champion Pedestrian’. From this curious gumnut, Robert Drewe has created a sprawling multi-limbed eucalypt. In a few months, Drewe will turn eighty. He is part of an extraordinary cohort of Australian novelists born in 1941–43, including Helen Garner, Roger McDonald, Peter Carey, Mur ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia' by Elizabeth Tynan

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
In 1953, the British government conducted the Totem nuclear weaponry tests at Emu Field in South Australia. It was an inhospitable environment for non-Indigenous visitors. One London-based administrator called for the Australian military to remove all flies from the site. These tests earned part of a chapter in Elizabeth Tynan’s award-winning Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga story (reviewed by Dani ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Lowitja: The authorised biography of Lowitja O’Donoghue' by Stuart Rintoul

January–February 2021, no. 428 16 December 2020
In Recollections of a Bleeding Heart (2002), Don Watson wrote that Lowitja O’Donoghue ‘seemed then and has seemed ever since to be a person of such transcendent warmth, if Australians ever got to know her they would want her as their Queen’. Robert Manne, in the first-ever Quarterly Essay (2001), portrayed her as ‘a woman of scrupulous honesty and great beauty of soul’. These qualities g ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Pathfinders: A history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW' by Michael Bennett

May 2020, no. 421 27 April 2020
The Aboriginal tracker is a stock character in certain Australian films, employed as set dressing, catalyst, curio. Although fictional trackers have been celebrated on celluloid, few real trackers have been given life within the national memory. Some people may recall Billy Dargin and his role in locating and shooting Ben Hall. Others might think of Dubbo’s Tracker Riley, or Dick-a-Dick, who fou ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'A Stolen Life: The Bruce Trevorrow case' by Antonio Buti and 'My Longest Round' by Wally Carr and Gaele Sobott

August 2019, no. 413 22 July 2019
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following article contain depictions of people who have died. Philip Larkin famously suggested that ‘they fuck you up, your mum and dad’, but the alternative is usually worse. Twenty years before Larkin wrote ‘This Be the Verse’, his compatriot John Bowlby published Maternal Care and Mental Health (1951), which desc ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Tracker: Stories of Tracker Tilmouth' by Alexis Wright

January–February 2018, no. 398 19 December 2017
In Alexis Wright’s novel Carpentaria (2006), Girlie claims, ‘If you ever want to find out about anything in your vicinity, you have to talk to the mad people.’ There are a lot of mad people in Wright’s biography of Aboriginal activist, thinker, and provocateur ‘Tracker’ Tilmouth. He is probably the maddest of all, in the Kerouacian sense of ‘mad to live, mad to talk’, but, accordin ... (read more)
Page 1 of 2