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Robert Kenny

Robert Kenny's latest book is Gardens of Fire: An investigative memoir (2013). His previous book, The Lamb Enters the Dreaming (2007), won the 2008 Prime Minister's Prize for Australian History. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Alfred Deakin Research Institute, Deakin University, and has published in the fields of religious, environmental, and science history, as well as poetry, fiction, and cultural criticism.

Robert Kenny reviews 'The Big Drop' and 'Pokerface' by Peter Corris

June 1986, no. 81 01 June 1986
Place has always been an intrinsic element in the detective story from the Paris of Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue (despite the fact that his knowledge of the city came from an exhibition and not reality) to the London of Holmes to the village of Miss Marple to San Francisco of Hammett. In many cases it is as important a component as the detective character itself, or at least the detective is ... (read more)

Robert Kenny reviews ‘Possession: Batman’s treaty and the matter of history’ by Bain Attwood and ‘Shaking Hands on the Fringe: Negotiating the Aboriginal world at King George’s sound’ by Tiffany Shellam

September 2009, no. 314 01 September 2009
I once visited John Batman’s property in north-east Tasmania, happily in the company of a Tasmanian. The guidebook listed it as a heritage site on a public road, but the graded track along the side of a ridge had to be entered by a gate marked ‘Kingston – Private Property’. We drove several kilometres before reaching another gate. We breached this, too. On our left was a nineteenth-century ... (read more)

Robert Kenny reviews 'On Track' by John Blay

October 2015, no. 375 28 September 2015
Walking is the quintessence of human travelling. No other means so involves us in the place through which we move or makes us so aware of our bodies’ presence in it. Early in his book, John Blay writes: ‘walking has become thought. I feel I am in dialogue with nature, I understand it is telling me what I need to know.’ We can stretch Blay’s ‘nature’ to include any environment in which ... (read more)

Robert Kenny reviews 'Living with Fire: People, nature and history in Steels Creek', by Christine Hansen and Tom Griffiths

November 2013, no. 356 31 October 2013
Fire, more than any other thing, challenges the divide between the cultural and the natural, between being human and the non-human world. We make a pact, if not with a devil, at least with terrible danger when we use fire; and it is a pact, despite how it might seem in our urban modernity, over which we have no choice. We need fire. It doesn’t need us. If it truly had character, as it so often s ... (read more)