Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser was Chairperson of ABR and was for many years Editor of Eureka Street. She is currently writing a biography of the poet Peter Porter.

A Schubert Journey, Three Song Cycles (Melbourne Recital Centre)

ABR Arts 13 July 2015
When the stars align, in art as in astronomy, the results can be exhilarating and revelatory. This winter in Melbourne, as July’s ice began making itself felt, you could hear some of the greatest music ever written out of seasonal and psychological darkness – Franz Schubert’s three song cycles, Die schöne Müllerin (The Lovely Miller-Girl), Schwanengesang (Swan Song), and Winterreise (Winte ... (read more)

War Requiem (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra) and Ian Bostridge (Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)

ABR Arts 23 June 2015
‘Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges,’ wrote Herman Melville. The truth about war, as Benjamin Britten ‘tells’ it in his War Requiem, is ragged indeed. A glance at Britten’s score is indicative – there on the page are the black skitterings of brass and strings, a motley percussion, a solo soprano voice soaring over Latin choruses that alternate (or intersect) ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'Journey to the Stone Country' by Alex Miller

Reading Australia 20 May 2015
There is no recommended apprenticeship for writers. Nor are there any prescribed personal or professional qualifications. Hermits, obsessives, insurance clerks, customs officers, women who embroider, men who write letters, public servants, soldiers, drunks, provincial doctors and gulag inmates have all become great writers. How? A mystery. But avidity – about the world and the people in it – h ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Can't and Won't' by Lydia Davis

March 2015, no. 369 01 March 2015
Morag Fraser reviews 'Can't and Won't' by Lydia Davis
Reading Lydia Davis’s stories is akin to getting new glasses – or glasses for the first time. Suddenly the world shifts into sharp, bright focus. Disturbing. Disorienting. What you see, or understand, won’t necessarily gladden your heart. It may pique it, but you may not want to be brought so close to life, to the poignancy of it all. Not at first, anyway. Davis seems to think so too. Or sh ... (read more)

Handel’s Messiah (Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra)

ABR Arts 17 December 2014
The huge Town Hall crowd who surged to their feet to applaud – and go on applauding – the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic’s twilight performance of Messiah did not do so ‘like sheep’, nor like a last-night-at-the-Proms booster crowd. Their gesture had more in common with King George II’s reputed rising in glad awe for the Hallelujah Chorus during the London première of Messiah in 1743. ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'Stone Mattress: Nine tales' by Margaret Atwood

November 2014, no. 366 01 November 2014
Morag Fraser reviews 'Stone Mattress: Nine tales' by Margaret Atwood
One swallow doesn’t make a summer, as the stark proverb cautions, but a cockatoo flocking of short stories suggests that the form is perhaps enjoying a revival – and the publishing industry has seized an opportunity. As it should. In 2013, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature, lauded as ‘the master of the contemporary short story’. Edna O’Brien’s The Love Object appeared in ... (read more)

Extraordinary ascensions

April 2014, no. 360 26 March 2014
Extraordinary ascensions
In the 1960s she was deemed an Irish Jezebel. After the publication of her début novel, The Country Girls (1960), the local postmistress told her father that a fitting punishment would be for her to be kicked naked through the town. Now, a half century later, her litterateur countryman John Banville has introduced Edna O’Brien’s Collected Stories with unalloyed tribute: ‘She is, simply, on ... (read more)

Sweet honey and guns

March 2014, no. 359 26 February 2014
Indiana’s State Route 67 is a highway straight out of Alfred Hitchcock, an open-skied strip through flat country, bordered by desultory malls, a ‘drive-thru’ Taco Bill, a county jail and sheriff’s department, a pedimented Walgreens and – most intriguing – the Mooresville ‘Lost Inn Motel’, and the ‘Lost Name Steak-house and Saloon’. (Google risks no tariff information for t ... (read more)

The Accursed

July–August 2013, no. 353 25 June 2013
The Accursed
If, hardy reader, you make it through the 667 pages of Joyce Carol Oates’s The Accursed, you will see, on page 669, that she prefaces her acknowledgments with this gnomic utterance: ‘The truths of Fiction reside in metaphor; but metaphor is here generated by History.’ I’m not sure that I get Oates’s gist exactly, and those striding allegorical capitals (Fiction, History) don’t help, b ... (read more)

Morag Fraser reviews 'The Childhood of Jesus' by J.M. Coetzee and 'The Round House' by Louise Erdrich

March 2013, no. 349 09 March 2013
Morag Fraser reviews 'The Childhood of Jesus' by  J.M. Coetzee and 'The Round House' by Louise Erdrich
‘What is chaos?’ asks the unnerving child at the centre of J.M. Coetzee’s new parable-novel, The Childhood of Jesus. ‘I told you the other day,’ replies the child’s guardian. ‘Chaos is when there is no order, no laws to hold on to. Chaos is just things whirling around.’ Louise Erdrich’s The Round House begins with a lyrical intimation of chaos, of nature whirling, malevolently. ... (read more)
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