Michael Winkler

Michael Winkler lives in Melbourne. His most recent book is Grimmish (Puncher & Wattmann). He was the winner of the 2016 Calibre Essay Prize. 

Michael Winkler reviews 'Nimblefoot' by Robert Drewe

August 2022, no. 445 28 July 2022
Michael Winkler reviews 'Nimblefoot' by Robert Drewe
The National Portrait Gallery owns a minuscule sepia studio photograph titled ‘Master Johnny Day, Australian Champion Pedestrian’. From this curious gumnut, Robert Drewe has created a sprawling multi-limbed eucalypt. In a few months, Drewe will turn eighty. He is part of an extraordinary cohort of Australian novelists born in 1941–43, including Helen Garner, Roger McDonald, Peter Carey, Mur ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia' by Elizabeth Tynan

May 2022, no. 442 23 April 2022
Michael Winkler reviews 'The Secret of Emu Field: Britain’s forgotten atomic tests in Australia' by Elizabeth Tynan
In 1953, the British government conducted the Totem nuclear weaponry tests at Emu Field in South Australia. It was an inhospitable environment for non-Indigenous visitors. One London-based administrator called for the Australian military to remove all flies from the site. These tests earned part of a chapter in Elizabeth Tynan’s award-winning Atomic Thunder: The Maralinga story (reviewed by Dani ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Lowitja: The authorised biography of Lowitja O’Donoghue' by Stuart Rintoul

January–February 2021, no. 428 16 December 2020
Michael Winkler reviews 'Lowitja: The authorised biography of Lowitja O’Donoghue' by Stuart Rintoul
In Recollections of a Bleeding Heart (2002), Don Watson wrote that Lowitja O’Donoghue ‘seemed then and has seemed ever since to be a person of such transcendent warmth, if Australians ever got to know her they would want her as their Queen’. Robert Manne, in the first-ever Quarterly Essay (2001), portrayed her as ‘a woman of scrupulous honesty and great beauty of soul’. These qualities g ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Pathfinders: A history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW' by Michael Bennett

May 2020, no. 421 27 April 2020
Michael Winkler reviews 'Pathfinders: A history of Aboriginal trackers in NSW' by Michael Bennett
The Aboriginal tracker is a stock character in certain Australian films, employed as set dressing, catalyst, curio. Although fictional trackers have been celebrated on celluloid, few real trackers have been given life within the national memory. Some people may recall Billy Dargin and his role in locating and shooting Ben Hall. Others might think of Dubbo’s Tracker Riley, or Dick-a-Dick, who fou ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'A Stolen Life: The Bruce Trevorrow case' by Antonio Buti and 'My Longest Round' by Wally Carr and Gaele Sobott

August 2019, no. 413 22 July 2019
Michael Winkler reviews 'A Stolen Life: The Bruce Trevorrow case' by Antonio Buti and 'My Longest Round' by Wally Carr and Gaele Sobott
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following article contain depictions of people who have died. Philip Larkin famously suggested that ‘they fuck you up, your mum and dad’, but the alternative is usually worse. Twenty years before Larkin wrote ‘This Be the Verse’, his compatriot John Bowlby published Maternal Care and Mental Health (1951), which desc ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Tracker: Stories of Tracker Tilmouth' by Alexis Wright

January–February 2018, no. 398 19 December 2017
Michael Winkler reviews 'Tracker: Stories of Tracker Tilmouth' by Alexis Wright
In Alexis Wright’s novel Carpentaria (2006), Girlie claims, ‘If you ever want to find out about anything in your vicinity, you have to talk to the mad people.’ There are a lot of mad people in Wright’s biography of Aboriginal activist, thinker, and provocateur ‘Tracker’ Tilmouth. He is probably the maddest of all, in the Kerouacian sense of ‘mad to live, mad to talk’, but, accordin ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Australian Gypsies: Their secret history' by Mandy Sayer

December 2017, no. 397 24 November 2017
Michael Winkler reviews 'Australian Gypsies: Their secret history' by Mandy Sayer
In the Australia of my childhood, the Gypsy skirt was fashionable, ABC Radio played Django Reinhardt, ‘The Gypsy Rover’ was in school songbooks, peripatetic players were called ‘Gypsy footballers’, the Gypsy Jokers were a feared bikie gang, and nefarious Gypsies were stock villains in children’s books. Gypsies – or Roma – occupied cultural terrain, but the people themselves had a low ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'The Mind of the Islamic State' by Robert Manne

June-July 2017, no. 392 30 May 2017
Michael Winkler reviews 'The Mind of the Islamic State' by Robert Manne
One of the many contradictions of Islamic State, as exposed in Robert Manne’s latest work, is that a mob seemingly dedicated to deeds rather than words is in fact logocratic. For all of their murderous antipathy towards the People of the Book, Islamic State has relied not on speeches or policy platforms, but on a succession of books. While some trace the genealogy of Islamic State to Muhammad i ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'Losing Streak: How Tasmania was gamed by the gambling industry' by James Boyce

May 2017, no. 391 28 April 2017
Michael Winkler reviews 'Losing Streak: How Tasmania was gamed by the gambling industry' by James Boyce
Gambling is part of Australia’s self-definition. The way we like to tell the story, lads at Gallipoli went over the top with a two-up kip in one hand and a rifle in the other, while exchanging tips for the Melbourne Cup. This national myth of betting derring-do, full of heroic punts and back-slapping celebrations, bears scant resemblance to the modern reality of Australian gambling. Our monument ... (read more)

Michael Winkler reviews 'From the Edge: Australia’s lost histories' by Mark McKenna

January–February 2017, no. 388 19 December 2016
Michael Winkler reviews 'From the Edge: Australia’s lost histories' by Mark McKenna
There is a well-meaning musician who performs intermittently in Central Australia. When he plays his hit song, he tries to augment the lyrics by chanting the word ‘strong’ in local language. In fact, he is singing a similar word that means urine. Presumably he thinks the audience’s laughter connotes delight rather than derision. Benign intentions, botched communication, a messy outcome. Int ... (read more)
Page 1 of 2