Non Fiction

John Rickard reviews 'Hector' by Rozzi Bazzani

John Rickard
Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Hector Crawford is a unique figure in the history of Australian radio and television. The Australian Dictionary of Biography article (also by the author of this book) describes him as 'television producer, media lobbyist and musician', to which could be added radio producer, showman, and entrepreneur. Above all, he was a persistent and canny advocate of Aus ...

Words and their meanings, more than any other aspects of language, hold a special fascination for people. Perhaps it is because, unlike these other features (which are set down during childhood), they continue to be acquired throughout one's lifetime. Words and their meanings are also intimately tied to the life and culture of speakers, and all sorts of perspectives ...

Why Acting Matters has on its cover the face of an ape; well, actually it’s Andy Serkis playing Caesar, ‘the top ape’ in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014). The point of this rather unexpected image from a movie not discussed in the book is, the blurb tells us, that ‘acting is baked into our primate DNA’. These two books, however, by elder ...

Missing from my own life

Elisabeth Holdsworth
Thursday, 08 January 2015

About ten years ago I was interviewed on Irish radio on a matter entirely unconnected with writing. The first question the interviewer asked me was, ‘Is that yourself, Elisabeth?’ This ungrammatical question struck me as both hilarious and pertinent. I don’t remember much about the interview except that leading question.

‘Is that yourself?’ In 1959 ...

Given the deluge of cookery books and unrelenting television programs, it is hard to imagine a time when there wasn’t a single Australian cookery book. This year marks the sesquicentenary of the first: The English and Australian Cookery Book, a volume published anonymously in London, and compiled by ‘An Australian Aristologist’, Edward Abbott. Abbott (1 ...

Luke Horton reviews 'Granta 129: Fate' edited by Sigrid Rausing

Luke Horton
Wednesday, 17 December 2014

In 2013, publisher Sigrid Rausing significantly reduced Granta magazine’s staff, and long-time editor John Freeman resigned. At this news, various high-profile contributors, including Peter Carey, expressed their concern for the future of the magazine. But if we can judge solely on the quality of this edition, the new Rausing-edited Granta has lost n ...

Nick Haslam reviews 'Mind Change' by Susan Greenfield

Nick Haslam
Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Over at the academy, the lecture is not what it used to be. Colourful slides and short videos accompany the spoken word, and this audio-visual feast can be ordered take-away, lecture recordings instantly downloadable from the university’s ‘learning management system’. Students sit, laptops open, alternating their gaze between the lectern and the web. Many stay ...

Peter Acton reviews 'The Invention of News' by Andrew Pettegree

Peter Acton
Wednesday, 17 December 2014

When St Paul’s burned down in 1561, no one was in any doubt that it was the work of God. The debate – and it was a furious one in the press of the time – concerned what this said about His views on the abolition of the mass. Contemporary press reports of the Battle of Lepanto, the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, and the Spanish Armada show how reporting of ev ...

Emily Howie reviews 'The Seasons of Trouble' by Rohini Mohan

Emily Howie
Wednesday, 17 December 2014

In May 2009, Sri Lanka’s three-decade-long civil war came to an end with the government’s defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (known as the Tamil Tigers). The long conflict had brought a range of horrific abuses: deliberate shelling of civilian areas; suicide bombing of civilian targets; enforced disappearances; rape; forced conscription, i ...

Claudia Hyles reviews 'The Island of Singing Fish' by Tina Faulk

Claudia Hyles
Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Two government acts shaped Tina Faulk’s life: Ceylon’s 1956 Official Language Policy Act, known as the Sinhala Only Act, and Australia’s Immigration Restriction Act of 1901, better known as the White Australia policy. The first virtually disenfranchised not only Faulk’s Burgher community, but also Sinhalese and Tamil middle-class élites, whose primary langu ...

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