Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department at Southampton University. Her publications include an edited book of interviews with Iris Murdoch (2003), V.S. Naipaul, Man and Writer (2006), J.M. Coetzee and the Power of Narrative (2010), and journal articles on a range of literary topics including music in the life and work of Jane Austen. In 2005 she co-edited Matthew Flinders’ Private Journal and in 2014 she published an edition of the correspondence between Iris Murdoch and the Australian radical philosopher Brian Medlin. She has been a regular reviewer for ABR since 2002. She is founding editor of the online journals Transnational Literature and Writers in Conversation.

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Pacific Room' by Michael Fitzgerald

December 2017, no. 397 24 November 2017
Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Pacific Room' by Michael Fitzgerald
Simile haunts The Pacific Room. So many sentences begin ‘It’s as if ...’ that the phrase seems like an incantation. Michael Fitzgerald writes that he agrees with Robert Louis Stevenson that ‘every book is, in an intimate sense, a circular letter to the friends of him who writes it. They alone take his meaning.’ For the reviewer coming from outside the circle, this book does not so much ... (read more)

Eugene Onegin (Co-Opera) and Orpheus Underground (Various People Inc)

ABR Arts 15 May 2017
Eugene Onegin (Co-Opera) and Orpheus Underground (Various People Inc)
Co-Opera’s Eugene Onegin (★★★1/2) and Various People’s Orpheus Underground (★★★★★), both of which played in Adelaide in early May, provided a study in contrasts. Tchaikovsky’s great opera (first performed in 1879) has toured to the eastern states and country South Australia, an ambitious undertaking even with a relatively small chorus and orchestra. In Adelaide, the performan ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'After' by Nikki Gemmell

April 2017, no. 390 27 March 2017
Gillian Dooley reviews 'After' by Nikki Gemmell
In 2015, Nikki Gemmell’s mother, Elayn, took an overdose of painkillers. Gemmell’s new book, After, chronicles the difficult process of confronting her mother’s death and resolving the anguish it brought to her and her children. It is also an impassioned appeal for changes in Australia’s laws on the right to die. ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Australian Literary Studies' edited by Julieanne Lamond

April 2017, no. 390 27 March 2017
Until 2015, Australian Literary Studies was still a printed artefact. It appeared in the mildly erratic pattern endemic to Australian humanities journals, which depend on busy people finding time for the rewarding but often unrewarded task of editing. Nevertheless, despite rising production costs and increasing competition from the online world, it remained impressively extant, with a good number ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Only: A singular memoir' by Caroline Baum

March 2017, no. 389 24 February 2017
Gillian Dooley reviews 'Only: A singular memoir' by Caroline Baum
Some ‘only’ children have revelled in that status. Iris Murdoch called her family unit ‘a perfect trinity of love’. Caroline Baum sees her family less happily as a triangle: ‘There’s something uncomfortable about a triangle: it’s all elbows, suggesting awkward unease.’ We find out in the following 380-odd pages the whats and whys of this discomfort. Some of it is historical; perhap ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Extinctions' by Josephine Wilson

January–February 2017, no. 388 20 December 2016
Gillian Dooley reviews 'Extinctions' by Josephine Wilson
Extinctions takes its time giving up its secrets, and there are some we will never know. One of its most persistent enigmas is what kind of book it is. I wondered, during the first half, whether it was a powerful and perceptive example of the Bildungsroman for seniors: an elderly person (usually male) meets someone new who teaches him to be a better person, to pay attention to the important things ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Boy on the Tricycle' by Marcel Weyland and 'The May Beetles' by Baba Schwartz

June–July 2016, no. 382 23 May 2016
Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Boy on the Tricycle' by Marcel Weyland and 'The May Beetles' by Baba Schwartz
Memoirs of Eastern European children of the 1920s could hardly be more different than this pair. The old age Marcel Weyland describes in The Boy on the Tricycle is a happy outcome for a boy who fled the Nazis. 'Fortunately,' he writes, 'I quite like what I am.' Before World War II, he describes 'a fairly typically, affluent, middle-European and middle-class, and in our case Jewish, household' in t ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'Places Women Make: Unearthing the contribution of women to our cities' by Jane Jose

May 2016, no. 381 27 April 2016
In Places Women Make, Jane Jose writes that she is ‘not proving a theory about the skills of men versus those of women’, but celebrating ‘the places in cities we know women have given us’. Jose moves with sometimes disorienting rapidity from place to place, from female lord mayor to colonial matron to feisty 1970s female activist. We learn that the female perspective is ‘different’, t ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Long Run' by Catriona Menzies-Pike

April 2016, no. 380 30 March 2016
Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Long Run' by Catriona Menzies-Pike
When I heard that there was a new book out on why women run, I assumed I would be reading about women fleeing domestic horrors rather than running marathons. Such a reaction might make Catriona Menzies-Pike sigh with frustration, and the cultural myopia which gave rise to my unthinking assumption is one of the reasons she wrote this book. 'I'd read a lot of books about running, but I struggled to ... (read more)

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Simple Act of Reading' edited by Debra Adelaide

January-February 2016, no. 378 21 December 2015
Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Simple Act of Reading' edited by Debra Adelaide
Let's start with the title. The act of reading is anything but simple, as Fiona McFarlane and Gabrielle Carey both point out. Eyes, brain, and mind cooperate to create from a series of symbols with no intrinsic representative value a coherent message, or some amusing nonsense, or a persuasive argument, or a boring anecdote, or a parade of transparent lies. Debra Adelaide has collected several pre ... (read more)
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