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 'The Prosperous Thief' by Andrea Goldsmith

November 2002, no. 246 01 November 2002
Don Anderson reviews 'The Prosperous Thief' by Andrea Goldsmith
‘History always emphasises terminal events,’ Albert Speer observed bitterly to his American interrogators just after the end of the war, according to Antony Beevor in Berlin: The Downfall 1945 (2002). Few events in recent history were more terminal than the Holocaust, it might be urged. Yet the singularity of that ‘terminus’ has been questioned in recent years. Is it, however, perilous for ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Reliable Essays: The best of Clive James' and 'Even As We Speak: New essays 1993–2001' by Clive James

October 2001, no. 235 01 October 2001
Don Anderson reviews 'Reliable Essays: The best of Clive James' and 'Even As We Speak: New essays 1993–2001' by Clive James
Clive James needs no introduction, though he asked Julian Barnes to provide one for Reliable Essays, a selection from three decades of James’s literary journalism made by his publisher, Peter Straus. The Kid from Kogarah is, as The New Yorker once famously observed, ‘a brilliant bunch of guys’: literary essayist (his ‘best work’, Barnes insists), television critic, poet, novelist, autobi ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'N' by John A. Scott

June–July 2014, no. 362 27 May 2014
Don Anderson reviews 'N' by John A. Scott
The last words of the endnotes to John A. Scott’s most recent novel – earlier ones have won the Victorian Premier’s prize for fiction and been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award – and thus the last words of this book, if we exclude back-cover plaudits, read: ‘An additional narrative strand, chronicling the history of Surrealist André Breton in Melbourne, 1952, omitted from this ve ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Following' by Roger McDonald

October 2013, no. 355 27 September 2013
Don Anderson reviews 'The Following' by Roger McDonald
Towards the end of Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift (1975), at the poet Von Humboldt Fleisher’s funeral on an April day in Chicago, Menasha Klinger, one of three mourners, points to a spring flower and asks Charlie Citrine, the novel’s narrator, to identify it. ‘Search me,’ Citrine replies, ‘I’m a city boy myself. They must be crocuses.’ This exchange has stayed with me for some thi ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'A World of Other People' by Steven Carroll

April 2013, no. 350 25 March 2013
Don Anderson reviews 'A World of Other People' by Steven Carroll
Novels have been appearing in the last decade or so in which one or more of the characters are actual historical figures, often themselves writers, appearing in propria persona, not considerately disguised and renamed, as Horace Skimpole was in Bleak House, for example. Perhaps the most notorious instance in recent years is Virginia Woolf in Michael Cunningham’s The Hours (1998), made even more ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Lost Voices' by Christopher Koch

December 2012–January 2013, no. 347 29 November 2012
Don Anderson reviews 'Lost Voices' by Christopher Koch
‘There is another world, but it is in this one.’ That is Paul Éluard, channelled by Patrick White as one of four epigraphs to The Solid Mandala (1966), a ‘doubleman’ of a novel avant la lettre.Other quotations appended to this story of Waldo and Arthur Brown are taken from Meister Eckhart (‘It is not outside, it is inside: wholly within’) and Patrick Anderson (‘… yet still I long ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Alfred Kazin: A Biography' and 'Alfred Kazin’s Journals' by Richard M. Cook

April 2012, no. 340 01 April 2012
Don Anderson reviews 'Alfred Kazin: A Biography' and 'Alfred Kazin’s Journals' by Richard M. Cook
If his biographer and editor of his Journals is to be believed, by the early 1960s the Brooklyn-born Alfred Kazin was ‘arguably the most sought-after and widely published critic’ in the United States. Kazin (1915–98) claimed that 1956–61 was ‘the greatest period in my life’. Having returned from a teaching post in Amherst to New York City, he succeeded in making a living as a freelance ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'Hergesheimer Hangs In' by Morris Lurie

November 2011, no. 336 25 October 2011
Don Anderson reviews 'Hergesheimer Hangs In' by Morris Lurie
‘A writer is writing even when he’s not writing, maybe even more then, even if he never writes again. Got it? Class dismissed.’ (Morris Lurie, ‘On Not Writing’, in Hergesheimer Hangs In) In Wild & Woolley: A Publishing Memoir (2011), Michael Wilding recalls: ‘Morris Lurie sent us a collection, too. I think if he had sent it eighteen months later I would have published it. But when ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Street Sweeper' by Elliot Perlman

October 2011, no. 335 27 September 2011
Don Anderson reviews 'The Street Sweeper' by Elliot Perlman
In 2003, the year in which Elliot Perlman’s previous novel Seven Types of Ambiguity was published, the eminent gadfly David Marr suggested that Australian novelists failed to address major contemporary social concerns. As if anticipating Marr’s criticisms, Perlman wove a plot that involved stock market speculation (and peculation), upmarket Melbourne brothels, privatised prisons, privately man ... (read more)

Don Anderson reviews 'The Chase' by Christopher Kremmer

September 2011, no. 334 23 August 2011
Don Anderson reviews 'The Chase' by Christopher Kremmer
Australians are suckers for a day at the races, and may be suckers for novels and poems about a day at the races. Consider Gerald Murnane’s metaphysics of racing, Peter Temple’s grim Melbourne in which stresses are relieved by a bottle of Bolly or some such beverage after a successful day at the track. The term ‘Turf’ is granted three-and-a-half columns in the 1985 edition of the Oxford Co ... (read more)
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