Don Anderson

Don Anderson is the author/editor of eight books, collections of essays and reviews, and anthologies of prose, largely of texts from the Americas, Australia, and Europe. For fourteen years in the 1980s and 1990s he was a regular literary columnist in the National Times and the Sydney Morning Herald. He was for thirty years a member of the English department at the University of Sydney, where he taught American, Irish, and Australian literature, and literary theory. He was for some years a member of the Advisory Panel of ABR.

Don Anderson reviews 'Mother’s Boy: A writer’s beginnings' by Howard Jacobson

July 2022, no. 444 25 June 2022
Don Anderson reviews 'Mother’s Boy: A writer’s beginnings' by Howard Jacobson
A Writer’s Beginnings begins: ‘My mother died today.’ One could be excused for thinking that one was reading not a memoir but a Campus Novel without the ‘p’, an experience that Howard Jacobson will suffer later in this book. Who could read this incipit without hearing the famous beginning: ‘Aujourd’hui maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.’ Jacobson, on the other han ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Nightpictures' by Rod Jones, including an author interview with Ramona Koval

December 1997–January 1998, no. 197 01 December 1997
Don Anderson reviews 'Nightpictures' by Rod Jones, including an author interview with Ramona Koval
‘Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo … the young Venetian says when he describes the cities visited on his expeditions [yet] only in Marco Polo’s accounts was Kublai Khan able to discern, through the walls and towers destined to crumble, the tracery of a pattern so subtle it could escape the termites’ gnawing.’ Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities A new novel from ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Arch-Traitor’s Lament' by Garry Satherley

October 2000, no. 225 01 October 2000
Don Anderson reviews 'The Arch-Traitor’s Lament' by Garry Satherley
The note from Text’s publicist read: ‘Hope you enjoy this.’ I did. I did. (I read it twice.) The note continued: ‘There’s no other Australian novel quite like it.’ I couldn’t quite bring myself to agree with that. Garry Satherley’s (as in ‘satherley buster’, no doubt) first novel suggests, to my perhaps over-convoluted consciousness, Murray Bail’s Homesickness, Anthony Macris ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'My Hard Heart: Selected fiction' by Helen Garner

August 1998, no. 203 01 August 1998
Don Anderson reviews 'My Hard Heart: Selected fiction' by Helen Garner
‘When a woman realises that she hates Madame Bovary, darling girl, that’s when she knows she’s come of age.’ What do we talk about when we talk about Helen Garner? About her writing, that is, about such a consummate novella as The Children’s Bach, about extraordinary stories such as ‘A Vigil’, in Cosmo Cosmolino, about the eponymous ‘Postcards from Surfers’, and a dozen othe ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Warra Warra: A ghost story' by John Scott

May 2003, no. 251 01 May 2003
Don Anderson reviews 'Warra Warra: A ghost story' by John Scott
‘ … the dead stay everlastingly present among us, taking the form of palpable vacancies that only disappear when, as we must, we take them into ourselves.’ Harry Mathews, Cigarettes John Scott began his publishing life as a poet of considerable distinction (albeit as John A. Scott, as the second edition of The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature will not let him forget) and then ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'running with light' by Luke Davies

May 1999, no. 210 01 May 1999
Don Anderson reviews 'running with light' by Luke Davies
Just when you have been assured, and have believed, and have claimed in print in The Sydney Morning Herald that mainstream publishers no longer bring forth volumes of verse by individual poets, along comes Allen & Unwin to confound you. Well, it is good thus to be confounded. I might not have pointed out, but the publishers remind us, over Luke Davies’ name and over his title, running with l ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Architect' by John Scott

May 2001, no. 230 01 May 2001
Don Anderson reviews 'The Architect' by John Scott
Is it possible to admire a novel, to have enjoyed it on both first and second readings, yet to remain unconvinced that one can with confidence say what it is about? Isn’t that rather the complex response that poetry excites? Here it might be noted that John Scott, who subtitles The Architect not ‘a novel’ but ‘a tale’, is a poet turned novelist, as is his friend David Brooks, of whose Ho ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Best Australian Essays 2001' edited by Peter Craven

June 2001, no. 231 01 June 2001
Don Anderson reviews 'The Best Australian Essays 2001' edited by Peter Craven
In the ‘Author’s Prologue’ to Book III of Gargantua and Pantagruel (trans. Urquhart, pub. 1693), Rabelais considers the plight of the philosopher Diogenes the Cynic at the siege of Corinth, who, prevented from action in the battle by dint of his occupation, retired towards a little hill or promontory, took his famous tub and ‘in great vehemency of spirit, did he turn it, veer it, wheel it, ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Postmodernism and Popular Culture: A cultural history' by John Docker

December 1994, no. 167 01 December 1994
Don Anderson reviews 'Postmodernism and Popular Culture: A cultural history' by John Docker
Where are the studies, the seminars, the books on John Laws, one of the greatest phenomena of popular culture in Australia for more than twenty years? Michael Duffy, The Independent Monthly November 1994 They fall through your letter box thick as autumnal leaves that straw the brooks in Vallombrosa, as fast and furious as knickers fall in ‘Melrose Place’ or reputations in ‘Models Inc. ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Silence: A novel' by Don DeLillo

December 2020, no. 427 25 November 2020
Don Anderson reviews 'The Silence: A novel' by Don DeLillo
‘Literary talent,’ writes Martin Amis in his new ‘novel’, Inside Story, ‘has perhaps four or five ways of dying. Most writers simply become watery and subtly stale.’ Not so the eighty-three-year-old Don DeLillo, who has published seventeen novels over the last fifty years, all of them muscular, intelligent, prescient. In 1988, he told an interviewer from Rolling Stone, ‘I think ficti ... (read more)
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