James Antoniou

James Antoniou

James Antoniou has written for Australian Book Review, The Age, The Australian, and Modern Poetry in Translation. Born in the United Kingdom, he now lives in Melbourne. He read English at Oxford, and worked for several years with the Children’s Bookshow, a UK tour of children’s writers and illustrators. 

James Antoniou reviews 'The Mysteries of Cinema: Movies and imagination' by Peter Conrad

October 2021, no. 436 23 September 2021
James Antoniou reviews 'The Mysteries of Cinema: Movies and imagination' by Peter Conrad
The history of cinema began twice. All art forms are shaped by technological change, but the advent of the talkie in the late 1920s – only a few decades after the first silent films – did not so much develop the medium as kill it and replace it with something new. So abrupt was the change that the strange visual operas of cinema’s earliest years became imbued with a certain innocence, now al ... (read more)

James Antoniou reviews 'Unanimal, Counterfeit, Scurrilous' by Mark Anthony Cayanan, 'Errant Night' by Jerzy Beaumont, and 'I Said the Sea Was Folded: Love poems' by Erik Jensen

June 2021, no. 432 20 May 2021
Unanimal, Counterfeit, Scurrilous by Mark Anthony CayananGiramondo Publishing, $24 pb, 102 pp Few books blur the line between beauty and ugliness more than Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice (1912). The novella follows the ageing writer Aschenbach, whose absurd over-refinement – born in part of repressed homosexuality – is dismantled by Tadzio, a beautiful boy he encounters on holiday in Venice. ... (read more)

James Antoniou reviews 'Dizzy Limits: Recent experiments in Australian nonfiction' by Brow Books

May 2021, no. 431 27 April 2021
James Antoniou reviews 'Dizzy Limits: Recent experiments in Australian nonfiction' by Brow Books
‘Experimental writing’ can sometimes seem like a wastebasket diagnosis for any text that defies categorisation. Even when used precisely, it begs certain questions. Isn’t all creative writing ‘experimental’ to some degree? Isn’t the trick to conceal the experimentation? And what relationship does it bear to the ‘avant-garde’? If avant-gardism implies a radical philosophy of art, wh ... (read more)

James Antoniou reviews 'Anh and Lucien' by Tony Page, 'Scratchland' by Noëlle Janaczewska, and 'The Alpaca Cantos' by Jenny Blackford

November 2020, no. 426 22 October 2020
Anh and Lucien by Tony PageUWAP, $22.99 pb, 104 pp Buy this book Tony Page’s Anh and Lucien is an intricately plotted verse novel set in French Indochina during World War II. It centres on an unlikely same-sex love affair between Lucien, a colonial bureaucrat, and Anh, a young Vietnamese communist who supports Ho Chi Minh’s independence movement. After being arrested for ‘public indec ... (read more)

James Antoniou reviews 'The Tolstoy Estate' by Steven Conte

October 2020, no. 425 24 September 2020
James Antoniou reviews 'The Tolstoy Estate' by Steven Conte
During Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Germans occupied Yasnaya Polyana – the former estate of Leo Tolstoy – for just forty-five days and converted it into a field hospital. The episode features in the war reportage of Ève Curie (daughter of Marie), and sounds like tantalising, if challenging, source material for a novelist. There’s the brutal irony inherent in the home of a world-famous ... (read more)

James Antoniou reviews 'Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense' by Jenny Uglow

March 2020, no. 419 24 February 2020
James Antoniou reviews 'Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense' by Jenny Uglow
It is no great coincidence that many of the best nonsense writers – Edward Lear, Mervyn Peake, Stevie Smith, Dr Seuss, Edward Gorey – were also prolific painters or illustrators. Nonsense poetry often seems like the fertile meeting point of visual and verbal languages, the place where words are stretched to dizzying new limits, used as wild brushstrokes on a canvas of imagination. It is no sma ... (read more)

James Antoniou reviews 'On Drugs' by Chris Fleming

November 2019, no. 416 30 September 2019
James Antoniou reviews 'On Drugs' by Chris Fleming
Literature inspired by drugs tends to swing between extremes. On the one hand, drugs are the very doors of perception, gateways to Xanadu; on the other they are a source of grim addictions, lotus plants that tempt one into indefinite living sleep. In recent decades there have been the highs of William S. Burroughs, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson and Irvine Welsh, but rarer are those memoirists with ... (read more)

James Antoniou reviews 'The Drama of Celebrity' by Sharon Marcus

Online Exclusives 26 September 2019
James Antoniou reviews 'The Drama of Celebrity' by Sharon Marcus
According to Angela Carter, who wrote perceptively on the subject, ‘the pleasantest, most evanescent kind of fame … is that during your own lifetime’. By the end of her life, Carter had cultivated her own celebrity: she was interviewed on television, adapted her own work for the BBC, and won several awards. Academia is often interested in celebrity when it is, like Carter’s, an adjunct to ... (read more)