Non Fiction

James McNamara reviews 'The Sopranos' by Franco Ricci

James McNamara
Wednesday, 17 December 2014

When we look back at the major cultural achievements of the early twenty-first century, The Sopranos (1999–2004) will surely prowl, thuggish, at the top of the list. Created by David Chase, the HBO drama tells the story of Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mob boss who tries to balance the violent demands of his professional life with a more quotidian existence as ...

Shakespeare was commonly regarded by his Romantic admirers as a solitary figure, whose prodigious talents were linked in some mysterious fashion to his isolation from society and from his fellow writers. ‘Shakespeare,’ wrote Coleridge in 1834, ‘is of no age – nor, I might add, of any religion, or party, or profession. The body and substance of his works came ...

Dorothy Driver reviews 'Divided Lives' by Lyndall Gordon

Dorothy Driver
Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Two thirds of the way into Lyndall Gordon’s part memoir, part maternal biography, there is an episode of profound risk to the self. At the age of twenty-four, having recently moved from Cape Town to New York, Gordon is being treated for post-partum depression. This is 1966. Electro-convulsive therapy seems not to have helped, and her psychiatrist is urging longer- ...

Peter Kenneally reviews 'Wild' by Libby Hart

Peter Kenneally
Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Libby Hart’s new collection is ornate and knotty in a way that the reader would never divine from its cover, which is clear and white, with ‘wild’ in plain green typescript. It is essentially a bestiary, with birds of all kinds, as well as other creatures, including humans, in wild places, blown by winds and salt spray, or bringing wildness to ‘settled’ hu ...

Bridget Vincent reviews 'Broken Hierarchies' by Geoffrey Hill

Bridget Vincent
Tuesday, 16 December 2014

In his November 2010 lecture delivered as Oxford Professor of Poetry, Geoffrey Hill tested the idea that poetry might constitute a form of perjury. He acknowledged that ‘this is a deeply pessimistic view: many would say anachronistic’. Showing that language is an imperfect and even fallen medium which presents moral hazards to its users was not, however, the ses ...

Geoff Page reviews 'Selected Poems' by Evan Jones

Geoff Page
Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Evan Jones’s Selected Poems is more than timely: its author was born in 1931. In an introduction (or ‘Personal Appreciation’), fellow Melbourne poet Alex Skovroncomplains that ‘Evan’s work has not always received the attention it deserves, especially in recent years’. It is worth pausing a moment to consider why this should be so.

Jones is ...

Carolyn Holbrook reviews 'Hell-Bent' by Douglas Newton

Carolyn Holbrook
Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Reading about the ‘khaki election’ of 1914 in Douglas Newton’s Hell-Bent evokes a sense of déjà vu in 2014, as Australia embarks on another war in the Middle East. During the campaign of 1914, Prime Minister Joseph Cook and Labor leader Andrew Fisher jostled to prove their loyalty to Britain and their enthusiasm for the impending war. Fisher’s effor ...

Shane Carmody reviews 'Clivosaurus' Guy Rundle

Shane Carmody
Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Guy Rundle ends his engrossing account of Clive Palmer with a disclaimer: ‘Knowing Clive, he will contradict everything asserted in this essay in the two weeks between its going to press and hitting the bookstands.’ Since the publication of this essay, Palmer has not contradicted the assertions of the essay, but his party has been challenged. Senator Jacqui Lamb ...

Lyndon Megarrity reviews 'Kevin Rudd' by Patrick Weller

Lyndon Megarrity
Tuesday, 16 December 2014

In modern Australia, politics and public policy appear to reflect a narrow range of managerial, political, and economic opinions. Even the much publicised ‘listening tours’ conducted by politicians seem designed to show that they are sensitive to community concerns, but not so sensitive as to want to change policy direction. What makes current discussion of poli ...

Cameron Muir: Broken Country

Cameron Muir
Monday, 15 December 2014

Once, when it was the beginning of the dry but no one could have known it yet, Dad drove us west – out past ‘Jesus Saves’ signs nailed to box trees, past unmarked massacre sites and slumping woolsheds, past meatworks and red-bricked citrus factories with smashed windows, and past one-servo towns with faded ads for soft drinks no one makes anymore – until we ...

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