Literary Studies

Colin Steele reviews 'Where I'm Reading From' by Tim Parks

Colin Steele
26 August 2015

British novelist, translator, and critic, Tim Parks, based in Italy since 1981, is well credentialled to examine the changing world of books. Parks says, however, that while he wanted to comment on ‘writing itself, and reading, and books’, he didn’t want to do it ‘in a precious way’.

In Where I’m Reading From, Parks is ... More

James Ley reviews 'J.M. Coetzee and the Life of Writing' by David Attwell

James Ley
26 August 2015

Few, if any, contemporary authors have attracted the level of critical attention that is lavished upon J.M. Coetzee. No doubt there are many reasons for this, but a good part of the fascination with his fiction is a result of the evident rigour with which it is conceived. To read a Coetzee novel is to encounter a work that seems to have ... More

Andrea Goldsmith reviews 'Curiosity' by Alberto Manguel

Andrea Goldsmith
26 August 2015

There are two broad approaches to reading Alberto Manguel’s Curiosity. The first type of reader will study the book – or rather, the text – assiduously connecting the personal narratives that introduce each chapter with the books Manguel references in the more theoretical and discursive aspects that follow. Dante’ ... More

'Like a Thief in the Night' by Michelle de Kretser (Afterword to the Text Classics edition of The Suburbs of Hell by Randolph Stow)

Michelle de Kretser
25 August 2015

My copy of The Suburbs of Hell (1984) is a handsome Heinemann first edition salvaged, like so many treasures, from a remainder tray. The dust jacket features a golden hourglass and type on a sky-blue ground: the colours Fra Angelico favoured for the vaults of heaven. A travel card that served as my bookmark is still tucked away in its pages; the date-punch ... More

James McNamara reviews 'Penguin and the Lane Brothers'

James McNamara
25 August 2015

Penguin is synonymous with publishing: a firm of vast influence and market share, whose ‘Classics’ imprint essentially arbitrates the modern canon. The founding myth goes something like this: Allen Lane, eccentric genius and publisher, was standing on a railway platform after a weekend with his chum, Agatha Christie. In want of a decent, cheap read, he visited a ... More

Kerryn Goldsworthy reviews 'Thea Astley' by Karen Lamb

Kerryn Goldsworthy
24 August 2015

‘If there are going to be any more of her novels, perhaps we should come right out and promote her as an utter bitch?’

So wrote Alec Bolton, the London manager of Angus & Robertson, to his senior editor John Abernethy in Sydney. The novelist in question was Thea Astley, and the book was A Boat Load of Home Folk (1968). Bol ... More

The missing novels: our critics nominate some overlooked classics

Debra Adelaide et al.
24 August 2015

Early success is no guarantee of a book’s continued availability or circulation. Some major and/or once-fashionable authors recede from public consciousness, and in some cases go out of print. We invited some writers and critics to identity novelists who they feel should be better known.

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Judith Armstrong reviews 'Ransacking Paris' by Patti Miller

Judith Armstrong
29 May 2015

Patti Miller has written four books of or about memoir, one of which, The Mind of a Thief (UQP, 2012) won the New South Wales Premier’s History Award, and she has taught life writing for more than twenty years. Yet her most recent publication, Ransacking Paris, while enjoyable at one level, is disappointing at another. There is a serious mismatch bet ... More

Susan K. Martin reviews 'Wild Bleak Bohemia' by Michael Wilding

Susan K Martin
29 May 2015

‘The mind retires from such speculation, unsatisfied but impressed’

Joseph Furphy, Such is Life

Michael Wilding’s biographical study traces in minute detail the interwoven lives of Adam Lindsay Gordon, Marcus Clarke, and Henry Kendall as their destinies converged on Mel ... More

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

Morag Fraser
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 ... More

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