Non Fiction

John Rickard reviews 'My Old Man'

John Rickard
Thursday, 31 October 2013

Many years ago, when I was struggling to make a living as an actor–singer in England, I spent six months in the chorus at the London Palladium, in a show breezily titled Let Yourself Go, whose star was former Goon Harry Secombe. It was hard work: two performances nightly, plus a matinee on Saturday. Years later, I realised that this demanding regimen ...

Dina Ross reviews 'My Mother, My Father'

Dina Ross
Thursday, 31 October 2013

In A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), novelist Dave Eggers recounts the horror of losing both his parents within one year, leaving him and his sister as sole carers of their young brother. Eggers recalls the intense pain of being orphaned at the age of twenty-one, but also the frustration and acute resentment at having to grow up too fast.

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Jo Scanlan reviews 'Kitty's War'

Jo Scanlan
Thursday, 31 October 2013

Janet Butler sets up the story of Australian World War I army nurse Catherine (Kit) McNaughton with a strong and vivid opening chapter. At a hospital base in the north of France, Kit sits in her freezing hut scribbling in her diary, her mind far away with her audience back home. She is about to go on duty. A short time later when she lifts the canvas flap of t ...

Colin Nettelbeck reviews the 'Australian Journal of French Studies'

Colin Nettelbeck
Thursday, 31 October 2013

This number of the Australian Journal of French Studies has been superbly guest-edited by Sydney University’s Margaret Sankey, a world authority on French voyages of discovery in the southern hemisphere. In addition to her own work, there are contributions by several French and New Zealand colleagues.

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Virginia Lloyd reviews 'Profits of Doom'

Virginia Lloyd
Thursday, 31 October 2013

One of the literary legacies of the financial crisis is a type of travel writing focused on the local social, economic, and environmental effects of unfettered global capitalism. There are two types of such books. Michael Lewis is perhaps the best known and most widely read author of the first kind, in which the reporter becomes a kind of tour guide to the financial ...

Frank Bongiorno reviews 'Dancing with Empty Pockets'

Frank Bongiorno
Thursday, 31 October 2013

Tony Moore’s engaging account of Australian bohemians begins with Marcus Clarke and takes us through to Julian Assange. Along the way we encounter Australian bohemia in its diverse expressions, from the art of the Heidelberg School, writing of the Bulletin, high jinks of 1920s Sydney bohemia to the Sydney Push, Melbourne Drift, 1960s counterculture (i ...

Richard Broinowski reviews 'Charles Robert Scrivener'

Richard Broinowski
Thursday, 31 October 2013

In the 1890s the six Australian colonies were preoccupied not only with getting a fair deal over tariffs and customs – and maintaining the purity of the Anglo-Saxon race – but also with the location of the national capital. Denizens of Melbourne and Sydney felt that it should be one of them. The compromise was a capital in New South Wales, closer to Sydney ...

Robert Kenny reviews 'Living with Fire''

Robert Kenny
Thursday, 31 October 2013

Fire, more than any other thing, challenges the divide between the cultural and the natural, between being human and the non-human world. We make a pact, if not with a devil, at least with terrible danger when we use fire; and it is a pact, despite how it might seem in our urban modernity, over which we have no choice. We need fire. It doesn’t need us. If it ...

James Walter on the new biography of Margaret Thatcher

James Walter
Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Our media treat leaders as personifying everything that matters, yet social scientists disdain leadership. Most of what we know about leaders comes from biographies. And biography, dominated by those wishing either to demonise, or to celebrate, their subject, is a craft monopolised by insiders, acolytes, and journalists. Regarding Margaret Thatcher, academics ...

Steven Carroll on T.S Eliot in 'Tarantula's Web'

Steven Carroll
Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Private Eye said of Stephen Spender that he wasn’t so much famous as that he knew a lot of famous people. They might have said the same of John Hayward. His editorial and scholarly work notwithstanding, it’s doubtful that a biography of him would have been written had it not been for his close friendship with the premier poet of ...