Shaggy dog story
It was with a sense of dread that I continued reading the first paragraph of Declan Fry’s review of 7½ by Christos Tsiolkas (ABR, November 2021), after his opening sentence and his reference to Soseki’s Kusamakura. Having traced the structure of Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, from the opening pages through to the last chapter, and posted it on a website in response to a review written by James Ley, a reference to Natsume Soseki’s Kusamukura, better known to me as Three-Cornered World, rang warning bells of increasing dissonance.
Declan Fry is generous enough, in his review of this latest pastiche by Tsiolkas, to consider the question of failure as ‘an artistic goal’ and generous to the point of being disingenuous when he compares a working-class Christos Tsiolkas to a working-class D.H. Lawrence. The two ‘working-class’ backgrounds, aspirations, and abilities could not be more different. When Fry calls it a ‘shaggy dog number’, he comes nearer to the truth about a writer who relies on original texts from masters of the craft to provide a recipe to be followed that he can call his own. The joke of this ‘shaggy dog story’ is on Tsiolkas, however, among those who can distinguish authentic ingredients.
Not having read Paul Cleary’s book Title Fight (ABR, November 2021), I cannot comment on Stephen Bennett’s review of it. I can, however, sadly attest that Stephen’s review is very accurate in its outline of the history of Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, FMG’s impact on the Roebourne community, and the state of heritage protection in WA.
I saw the Ballarat exhibition of Linda McCartney’s photography (ABR Arts, November 2021) last weekend. She has always been one of our most loved photographers. Over our years, many tertiary students in photography have been exposed to her work, but also to the artist herself. Thank you, Alison Stieven-Taylor, for an insightful review of this exhibition.
Andrew West on Rob Barton
From this well-written and considered review (ABR, November 2021), this sounds like a most interesting book. I just wish Andrew West had not used that phrase ‘anti-war rent-a-crowd’. To whom he is referring? Why would anyone anti-war be referred to in such a disrespectful manner?
I do not agree with Andrew West, and I don’t consider Rod Barton a prophet. He did know, and he didn’t do anything. What about the chemical weapons that the West supplied and that Sadam Hussein used against Kurds in northern Iraq?