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Kerryn Goldsworthy

Kerryn Goldsworthy

Kerryn Goldsworthy won the 2013 Pascall Prize for cultural criticism, and the 2017 Horne Prize for her essay ‘The Limit of the World’. A former Editor of ABR (1986–87), she is one of Australia’s most prolific and respected literary critics. Her publications include several anthologies, a critical study of Helen Garner, and her book Adelaide, which was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. In November 2012 she was named as the inaugural ABR Ian Potter Foundation Fellow. Her Fellowship article on reviewing, ‘Everyone’s a Critic’, appeared in the May 2013 issue of ABR.

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Return to Valetto' by Dominic Smith

June 2023, no. 454 24 May 2023
A few pages in to Return to Valetto, the narrator Hugh Fisher is on a train from Rome to Orvieto and is being eyed suspiciously by an elderly Italian woman, who can see the photograph of himself with his daughter that he is using as a bookmark: I looked up from my book and into her Old Testament face. Mia figlia, I said, my daughter. For good measure, I told her in Italian that I was a widower, ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Volcano' by Venero Armanno

November 2001, no. 236 01 November 2001
‘In 1969,’ says Venero Armanno in the letter to the reader that prefaces his new novel, ‘my parents took me to Sicily for the first time, and we lived for six months in the tiny village of their birth. What I remember most clearly … is the presence of the volcano, and just how absolutely it dominates life. It’s there smoking silently in the day, and at night … you can see the fiery glo ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Sweeney and the Bicycles' by Philip Salom

November 2022, no. 448 25 October 2022
Philip Salom, now in his early seventies, has been a steady presence in Australian literature for more than four decades. Until a few years ago he was mainly known as a poet. He has published fourteen collections and won two awards for lifetime achievement in that field. Having turned to fiction in 2015, he has now published six novels. In Sweeney and the Bicycles, he returns to themes that have w ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Dear Writer' by Carmel Bird

July 1988, no. 102 02 September 2022
Auden said once that you couldn’t teach people to be writers, but that what you could do was teach them grammar, prosody, and rhetoric. This remark or some version of it has become the standard defence, like a chess move, when people attack (as they are strongly wont to do) the whole notion of teaching creative writing at all. Most of the how-to books on the subject begin with some such disclaim ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Island 107' and 'Griffith Review 15'

June 2007, no. 292 26 August 2022
It may be the global unease of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries that is causing Australian writers and thinkers to focus more and more on ‘place’: on the fractures and fissures between the homogenising impulse of the nationalist project, on the one hand, and on the other, the impossibility of constructing Australia as a sociological monolith. The current issues of these two ... (read more)

'Abbreviations' by Kerryn Goldsworthy

July 1986, no. 82 08 June 2022
I had sworn, in my editorial capacity, not to reinforce or allow to be reinforced, by word or deed, the old Sydney vs. Melbourne scenario in the pages of this magazine; but I realised very quickly that this was a case of one’s reach exceeding one’s grasp. The construction of this inter-city relationship as ‘St Petersburg or Tinsel Town?’, with its suggestion of two (and only two) opposing ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Chosen' by David Ireland

September 1997, no. 194 01 September 1997
Like much else about this novel, its title The Chosen is not the relatively straightforward affair it may, at first, appear to be. One assumes for the first hundred pages or so that the ‘chosen’ are those citizens of the small NSW Southern Tablelands town of Lost River who have been chosen by a randomising computer program to have their lives represented in the commemorative tapestry being wov ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Dark Places' by Kate Grenville

July 1994, no. 162 01 July 1994
It seems like a slender connecting thread, but reading Kate Grenville’s new novel, Dark Places, reminded me of an experience I had hoped I’d forgotten: reading American Psycho. Reading stories with repellent narrators is like being left alone in a locked room with somebody you’d edge away from if you met him, or her, in a bar. Such stories are unsettling in the way that good satire is unset ... (read more)

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'The Children’s Bach' by Helen Garner

February–March 1985, no. 68 01 February 1985
The characters in Helen Garner’s new novella The Children’s Bach make up the kind of social molecule in at least one of which all of us feature as an atom. Athena, who emerges as the core character, runs a household of, initially, four: herself, her husband Dexter Fox (we are not told what surname Athena uses), and their sons Arthur and the ‘strange’ Billy. Then there’s Elizabeth, with ... (read more)

Telecom Australian Voices | 'In the Flesh: Watching writers read' by Kerryn Goldsworthy

December 1992, no. 147 01 December 1992
‘To our bodies turn we, then, that soWeak men on love revealed may look;Love’s mysteries in souls may growBut yet the body is his book.’ John Donne, ‘The Ecstasy’ ‘...the unstable self, the fractured ego, Maud thought, who ... am I? A matrix for a susurration of texts and codes? It was both a pleasant and an unpleasant idea, this requirement that she thinks of herself as interm ... (read more)