Susan Lever

Susan Lever

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. Her most recent book is Creating Australian Television Drama: A screenwriting history (2020).

Susan Lever reviews 'The Dancer: A biography for Philippa Cullen' by Evelyn Juers

December 2021, no. 438 23 November 2021
Susan Lever reviews 'The Dancer: A biography for Philippa Cullen' by Evelyn Juers
What meaning can be drawn from an individual life? Most of us will disappear without much trace, forgotten by all but friends and family. Writers may hope for more, leaving their art behind for posterity. Performance artists, though, live their art in the moment. Philippa Cullen was a gifted dancer and choreographer who died in 1975 at twenty-five years of age. Her sudden death in India, probably ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'A Paper Inheritance: The passionate literary lives of Leslie Rees and Coralie Clarke Rees' by Dymphna Stella Rees

July 2021, no. 433 23 June 2021
Susan Lever reviews 'A Paper Inheritance: The passionate literary lives of Leslie Rees and Coralie Clarke Rees' by Dymphna Stella Rees
Coralie Clarke Rees and Leslie Rees are not remembered among the glamour couples of twentieth-century Australian literary life. Unlike George Johnston and Charmian Clift, Vance and Nettie Palmer, or their friends Darcy Niland and Ruth Park, neither of them wrote novels and they both spread their work across a range of genres. Critics, journalists, travel writers, children’s writers, playwrights, ... (read more)

'Conference-ville' by Susan Lever

August 2001, no. 233 01 October 2001
Travelling to the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) conference on the morning tram, I marvel at Melbourne’s sophistication and self-regard. In Swanston Street, new sculptures honour John Brack’s satire of Melbourne’s regimented workers, while in front of the State Library there’s a classical portal half buried in the pavement, as if the ancient world lies below. At ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Bleak Rooms' by Peter Goldsworthy

May 1988, no. 100 01 May 1988
Susan Lever reviews 'Bleak Rooms' by Peter Goldsworthy
Peter Goldsworthy uses the short story to examine and question elements of the kind of life he leads. There is an attractive lack of pretence in his kind of story; Goldsworthy sketches social situations clearly and succinctly so that he can move on to probe the weaknesses in his characters’ otherwise complacent lives. As the back cover tells us, and the stories reveal, Goldsworthy is a medical p ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Men On Women' by Kevin Childs

October 1986, no. 85 01 October 1986
Susan Lever reviews 'Men On Women' by Kevin Childs
Reading Kevin Child’s book, Men on Women, creates the irresistible temptation to answer on behalf of the women. I can imagine them offering the following kind of replies to their sons and lovers: Mrs. Lurie: Morris was one of those babies who go rigid every time you pick them up for a cuddle. I felt inadequate so I scrubbed the floors. Unconditional love he wants! Who doesn’t? Sonia McMaho ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Carnival Edge: New and selected poems' by Katherine Gallagher

September 2010, no. 324 01 September 2010
Susan Lever reviews 'Carnival Edge: New and selected poems' by Katherine Gallagher
Katherine Gallagher, who has lived in London since the 1970s, has now published six books of poetry, all but two of them with British or American publishers. This book selects poems from her earlier books, together with twelve new poems. As a whole, it gives the sense of a writer’s development over a period of thirty-five years, with some slight shifts of style over that time. Gallagher has alw ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'The Glasshouse' by Natalie Scott

December 1985–January 1986, no. 77 01 December 1985
Susan Lever reviews 'The Glasshouse' by Natalie Scott
At a time when novels by women must run the gauntlet of feminist criticism it is surprising to find one which is prepared to discuss love and female dependence without any deference to feminism. Natalie Scott makes it clear that her heroine lives in ‘liberated’ times but she insists that the need for love remains a fundamental human weakness or strength. Furthermore, she is not afraid to link ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Artful Histories: Modern Australian autobiography' by David McCooey

July 1996, no. 182 01 June 1996
Susan Lever reviews 'Artful Histories: Modern Australian autobiography' by David McCooey
Artful Histories represents that extraordinary achievement – a learned critical study, based on a thesis, which is exhilarating to read. While it covers the expected ground, with careful accounts of Australian autobiographies of various types, it also addresses a core problem of current literary debate – the relative status of different literary genres, and the interrelation between writing an ... (read more)

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam (Belvoir St Theatre)

ABR Arts 11 February 2020
Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam (Belvoir St Theatre)
I made the mistake of rereading Peter Goldsworthy’s 1993 novella before seeing Steve Rodgers’ adaptation of Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam at Belvoir St Theatre, so I knew the play’s advertised surprise ending and may have been resistant to its emotional charge. At its première production for National Theatre of Parramatta at the Riverside Theatre in 2018, it was said to reduce audiences to t ... (read more)

Susan Lever reviews 'Testostero' by David Foster

April 1987, no. 89 01 April 1987
Susan Lever reviews 'Testostero' by David Foster
David Foster is obsessed with opposites. He likes to play polarities of place and value against each other: in The Pure Land he contrasted Katoomba and Philadelphia, the sentimental and the intellectual; in Plumbum he put Canberra against Calcutta, the rational against the spiritual. At a talk in Canberra several years ago, he commented that it was the symmetry of the words Canberra and Calcutta t ... (read more)
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