Penguin

No Children by Choice edited by Gloria Frydman & Mature Age Mothers edited by Berwyn Lewis

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May 1987, no. 90

To have or not to have children: a dilemma made possible by technological advances and the consequent loosening of social roles. Once, having children was both an almost inevitable result of adult sexual activity and, generally, a desired one. For most people, being an adult member of a society implied having and taking responsibility for children. And for many people it still does. But it is now possible for people to choose when to have children, or to choose not to have them at all. No Children by Choice is a collection of interviews with men and women who have chosen not to have children; Mature Age Mothers is a collection of interviews with women who have not had children until they are over thirty (except for Junie Morosi who had three children in her teens and another child at forty-five).

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No Children by Choice by Berwyn Lewis & Mature Age Mothers by Gloria Frydman

by
May 1987, no. 90

To have or not to have children: a dilemma made possible by technological advances and the consequent loosening of social roles. Once, having children was both an almost inevitable result of adult sexual activity and, generally, a desired one. For most people, being an adult member of a society implied having and taking responsibility for children. And for many people it still does. But it is now possible for people to choose when to have children, or to choose not to have them at all. No Children by Choice is a collection of interviews with men and women who have chosen not to have children; Mature Age Mothers is a collection of interviews with women who have not had children until they are over thirty (except for Junie Morosi who had three children in her teens and another child at 45).

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Testostero by David Foster

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April 1987, no. 89

David Foster is obsessed with opposites. He likes to play polarities of place and value against each other: in The Pure Land he contrasted Katoomba and Philadelphia, the sentimental and the intellectual; in Plumbum he put Canberra against Calcutta, the rational against the spiritual. At a talk in Canberra several years ago, he commented that it was the symmetry of the words Canberra and Calcutta that attracted him to the idea of the cities as polarities. Words themselves invite Foster to play games with meaning and suggestion, and he finds an endless source of absurdity in the gap between actuality and the words chosen to label it.

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In the early seventies, the rock band Skyhooks asked ‘Whatever happened to the revolution?’ They answered themselves in the next line: ‘We all got stoned and it drifted away.’

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The Delinquents by Criena Rohan & Down by the Dockside by Criena Rohan

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February–March 1987, no. 88

Given the appetite of the literary industry, it’s hard to believe that a good thing can go unnoticed for long. But it happens. Occasionally the manuscript of an unheard-of author, or the out-of-print book of a forgotten one, finds its way into the hands of an influential member of the literary establishment – and from there to the rest of us. It’s a big event. Not only does it lend credibility to the old Shakespeare’s sister story (or one of its variants), but it indicates that, even in this over-determined world, it is still possible to be surprised.

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With her first novel (published in 1985 and now available in paperback), publisher and writer Stephanie Dowrick has created a long and uneven though often absorbing work, tracing the life of Zoë Delighty from birth to mature womanhood. It is a testament to the heroine’s survival of the vicissitudes of her active life, and her struggle to counter the malign influences of her girlhood which dog her through her attempts to engage herself creatively in life.

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Reading Kevin Child’s book, Men on Women, creates the irresistible temptation to answer on behalf of the women. I can imagine them offering the following kind of replies to their sons and lovers.

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Australian Women Poets edited by Susan Hampton and Kate Llewellyn

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September 1986, no. 84

In a paper entitled ‘Anthologies and Orthodoxies’ given recently at the Australian Literature Conference in Townsville, Jennifer Strauss, herself a poet as well as an academic, analysed the contents of six recent poetry anthologies, including this new Penguin collection. She came up with the same revealing statistics as editors Susan Hampton and Kate Llewellyn had discovered from a larger sample of fifteen collections: the average of female authors represented was only seventeen per cent. Obviously one of the orthodoxies enshrined in anthologies is in need of critical scrutiny if we are. unwilling to accept the implication that there are either fewer or less talented women writing poetry than there are men.

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From the enlightenment to post-modernity, there has been one common rallying cry: ‘This is the age of criticism.’ Religious authority, natural rights and philosophical dogmatism have all been under critique for so long that criticism has almost come to seem natural, authoritative and is in danger of hardening into dogma. Little surprise, then, that outside the academy the word ‘criticism’ is seldom linked with the venerable discourse of theology, politics and philosophy but rather with a comparatively recent and fluid phenomenon: Literature.

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The autobiographer faces a real problem: the self. ‘Which self?’ may also be the reader’s question and it may also be the question of the autobiographer. Should one write about the known self, the self vaunted or scorned by others, the public one, parts of which can be found in archives, on record, in the books and conversations of friends and enemies? Or should it be the private self, the self-protected and defended by jokes, chiack and taciturnity, hinted at here or there, but never accepted as real when defined by others?

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