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It used to be the case that readers interested in the visual arts in Australia had to put up with long dry spells between the publication of art books. But, over the last three decades in particular, writing about the visual arts in Australia, in terms of its scholarly and especially in terms of its numerical strength, has undertaken a quiet revolution.

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Brett D’Arcy’s novel, arrestingly titled The Mindless Ferocity of Sharks, is one of the most unusual and accomplished to be published in Australia for years. The setting is a decaying town called the Bay on the coast of Western Australia, south of Perth. Its abattoir and tanneries have long since closed. The locals are sufficiently hostile to have fended off development – so far. They endure the summer invasion of the ‘townies’ who come for the great surfing. During the rest of the year, they enjoy it without interruption.

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