Editorial

What a difference a month makes! In late March, as we were sending the April issue to press, how bleak the outlook was here in Australia, but especially overseas. Future print editions seemed doubtful because of the scale of the threat and the imminent lockdown.

... (read more)

After a summer of bushfires across the nation and phenomenal loss and destruction, Australia – like the rest of world – now faces a health crisis of fearsome scope. As we go to press (earlier than planned because of present uncertainties), the scale of the threat, unprecedented in our times, is becoming stark.

... (read more)

This year, the Australian bushfire season began in winter. A long, dry summer – the warmest on record – lingered into and then beyond autumn. By spring, more than one hundred uncontrolled fires were raging across the eastern seaboard, reaching into ecological regions unfamiliar with flame. It is alarming how routine such record-breaking extremes have become, and ...

Welcome to our final issue for 2001! Our summer issue – arrestingly illustrated on the cover – is a double one, and longer than previous ones this year. Funds permitting, we hope to be able to publish more eighty-page issues in 2002, especially in the second half of the year, when so many Australian books, both general and scholarly, are published. This expansion allows us to add new features: ‘Best Books of the Year’ column (children’s as well as adult books); short fiction; and a ‘Summer Reading’ column, containing brief reviews of worthy titles for which we haven’t been able to find the wonted page or two. Columns such as ‘Best Books of the Year’, in which various critics nominate two favourite books of the year and one ‘surprise’, are certainly not intended to be the last word on the subject. Such columns are inevitably subjective. But it is interesting to hear from some of our regular critics and contributors about their assessment of quality publications here and overseas. If it points some readers to fine books they may have overlooked, I think it is worthwhile.

... (read more)

‘A pox on the GST!’ wrote one of our many new readers last month when filling in her subscription form. ABR has long been famous for its feisty correspondence (never more so than last month). This editor is not about to disagree with our new subscriber. The imposition of GST on books and magazines surely rates as one of the crasser political acts in recent years. Anyone unsure of its effect on literature in this country should ask booksellers and publishers what sort of a year they had in 2000. Readers weren’t unscathed, either.

... (read more)

As recently as May, Frank Kermode, writing in the London Review of Books, had the temerity to say, ‘Some writers really are better than others’. This may come as a surprise to the odd professor of English, it seems. You will recall that Raimond Gaita, our La Trobe University Essayist in the previous issue, cited one vigilant professorial leveller who, having purportedly disposed of the illusion that there are great books, was determined to expose the folly of the notion that there are good ones.

... (read more)

Now is the season of shortlisted content! In recent weeks, so many awards have been decided – or at least shortlisted – that ABR would need a supplement to list them all. Awards, everyone knows, have their limitations and anomalies, but few people would object to the highlighting of writers’ latest works or the supplementing of their often modest incomes. One first novel that has attracted notice is Arabella Edge’s The Company, based on the Wreck of the Batavia. The author is currently in Africa, picking up the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the best first novel in South-East Asia and the South Pacific region. The Company has also been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award (of which I am a judge). On her return, Ms Edge will visit Melbourne to take part in a discussion about the notorious shipwreck and the new Australian opera Batavia. Jointly sponsored by ABR, Opera Australia, and Reader’s Feast, this will take place at the Reader’s Feast Bookstore in Melbourne (see page seven for details). At this public forum, I shall also be introducing Peter Goldsworthy and Richard Mills. It is one of several literary events that ABR is planning with major organisations and institutions.

... (read more)

Readers will notice major changes in this second issue of ABR for 2001. The cover looks notably different, courtesy of Chong, Text Publishing’s inimitable designer. I was delighted when Chong offered to redesign our cover. Our changed masthead seems sensible, for the magazine is known widely as ABR, after all. Readers can expect more design changes in coming issues.

... (read more)

Cosy was the word Cassandra Pybus preferred when asked if Australian reviewing is too bland – the topic of this month’s symposium. Something intimate and specially friendly. In identifying the cosiness of some Australian reviewing, Pybus makes a telling point, if droll, certainly not excluding ABR from the offenders. I have to say that among the other responses were some that were bland, in a way that made me feel I have proved my point.

... (read more)

Recently I have had a number of enquiries from readers who want to submit books for review hand the enquiries came from people unfamiliar with the reviewing process. So for those readers who are unfamiliar with the reviewing process, a few words about it.

... (read more)
Page 1 of 2