Cassandra Pybus

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Dear Editor,

How disappointing your cover feature on The First Stone turned out to be. I feel very let down by the most mediocre review I’ve read on this most talked-about work. Your former Editor, Rosemary Sorensen, wrote a superb, thought-provoking piece in the Sydney Morning Herald. I expected the review in ABR to be of similar quality.

Brian White, Elwood, Vic.

(Ed’s reply: You might be interested to know that the Sydney Morning Herald chose to republish a shortened version of Cassandra Pybus’s review of The First Stone, on Wednesday 10 May, acknowledging it was first published in ABR.)

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Letters to the Editor

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Dear Editor,

Dr Jenna Mead claims, among other things in her most recent attempt to discredit The First Stone, that I have ‘invented dialogue’ and written ‘hypothetical meetings with imaginary characters’. All the conversations and encounters in the book are documented in detailed, scrupulous notes. This includes my account of a telephone conversation between Dr Mead and me, which she would perhaps prefer to think of as a figment of my ‘merciless imagination. If only Dr Mead were an imaginary character – but it would strain the ingenuity of a better writer than I am, to have dreamt her up.

Helen Garner, Elizabeth Bay NSW

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'Truganini' by Cassandra Pybus, reviewed by Billy Griffiths

The ABR Podcast
Wednesday, 08 April 2020

The extraordinary life of Truganini, an Aboriginal woman known as the 'last Tasmanian', is explored in this turbulent history by Cassandra Pybus. An inspiring and haunting story, Truganini’s life spanned psychological and cultural shifts nearly beyond comprehension. In this episode of The ABR Podcast, Billy Griffiths, author of the award-winning Deep Time Dreaming, reviews Truganini, Pybus's history of a woman reclaimed by the Tasmanian Indigenous community as a symbol of 'rights, identity, ownership, and survival'. 

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Cassandra Pybus reviews 'Performances' by Greg Dening

Cassandra Pybus
Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Greg Dening was trained for the Catholic priesthood. He became an outstanding historian of the Pacific, although perhaps better described as an anthropologist-historian, in company with Clifford Geertz, Marshall Sahlins, Nathalie Zemon Davis, and his colleague Rhys Isaac, to whom this book is warmly dedicated. Yet echoes of his initial calling linger in his work, certainly as evidenced in this collection of essays.

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Open Page with Cassandra Pybus

Australian Book Review
Friday, 20 March 2020

When I was younger and could tolerate copious amounts of alcohol, I really enjoyed writers’ festivals, especially in Canada, where they are often in stupendous landscapes. I made some lifelong friendships with marvellous writers and enjoyed memorable late-night conversations in the lobbies and bars of swish hotels.

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Truganini: Journey through the apocalypse follows the life of the strong Nuenonne woman who lived through the dramatic upheavals of invasion and dispossession and became known around the world as the so-called ‘last Tasmanian’. But the figure at the heart of this book is George Augustus Robinson, the self-styled missionary and chronicler who was charged with ‘conciliating’ with the Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples. It is primarily through his journals that historians are able to glimpse and piece together the world fractured by European arrival.

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Another book on George Augustus Robinson, the nineteenth-century oddity who toured Tasmania gathering Aboriginals whom he eventually incarcerated on Flinders Island? Historians from John West to Brian Plomley have written about his Tasmanian adventures; Robert Drewe and Mudrooroo Narogin have added interpretations of his singular career. Do we need another?

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Cassandra Pybus reviews 'The First Stone' by Helen Garner

Cassandra Pybus
Wednesday, 04 March 2020

We meet in one of the ubiquitous coffee shops in Brunswick Street. I order a cappuccino, all milky froth. Hers is a short black; bitter and strong. Over the past decade our relationship has been desultory, unevenly balanced: we live in different states and she is a famous novelist. I have always been in a supplicant role. We have something approaching a friendship, maybe. Today she defers to me. She has just reviewed my book on the Orr case for the Times Literary Supplement. And liked it, she says. She wants my help.

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Cassandra Pybus reviews 'The Blue Guitar' by Nicholas Hasluck

Cassandra Pybus
Friday, 07 February 2020

In the wake of the spectacular collapse of Rothwells and unsavoury revelations about Western Australian entrepreneurial enterprise, it is very apposite for Penguin to have republished Nick Hasluck’s 1980 novel, The Blue Guitar. This novel, as relevant now as nine years ago, deals with the world of entrepreneurship with its illusory money, fast talk, and duplicity. It is a world of the corrupt and the corruptible, where principles and moral certainties give way before glib notions of innovative thinking and flexibility.

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