Essays and Commentary

Mark Williams reviews 'Can You Tolerate This?: Personal essays' by Ashleigh Young

Mark Williams
30 August 2017

Ashleigh Young is one of a number of writers currently distinguishing themselves as the latest generation to emerge from the creative writing program at Victoria University in Wellington. The course, founded by Bill Manhire in 1975, maintains the supply of excellence that attracted so much resentment as its ‘spectacular babies’ – from Barbara Anderson to Elean ... More

'Beyond Songlines' by Philip Jones

Philip Jones
24 August 2017

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines, one of the most influential books about Australia to reach an international a More

Sue Kossew reviews 'Late Essays: 2006–2017' by J.M. Coetzee

Sue Kossew
24 August 2017

While it is true that the essay as a genre has a long and continuous history, it is not always an easy form to categorise or define. J.M. Coetzee has himself contrasted the ‘rather tight discourse’ of criticism with the relative freedom of writing fiction. Indeed, essays – like those collected in this volume – require ‘slow reading’, a term derived from ... More

David Schlosberg reviews 'How Did We Get Into This Mess? Politics, equality, nature' by George Monbiot

David Schlosberg
23 July 2017

In reviewing this broad retrospective of George Monbiot’s Guardian columns, How Did We Get Into This Mess?, it is difficult to focus solely on the actual content of those commen More

Wilfrid Prest reviews 'A Historian for all Seasons: Essays for Geoffrey Bolton' edited by Stuart Macintyre, Lenore Layman, and Jenny Gregory

Wilfrid Prest
23 July 2017

Traditional academic festschrifts often lack coherence and consistency, especially when the honorand’s former students and colleagues, as more or less duty-bound contributors, share litt More

Ryan Cropp reviews 'Donald Horne: Selected writings' edited by Nick Horne

Ryan Cropp
23 July 2017

The American novelist Richard Yates once remarked to an interviewer that he had the misfortune of having written his best book first. He might have found an ally in Donald Horne, whose fir More

‘Desert Masterpiece’ (Introduction to the Text Classics edition of Tobruk 1941 by Chester Wilmot) by Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane
01 June 2017

Chester Wilmot was on board British Airways Flight 781 on 10 January 1954 when it exploded in midair and crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off the island of Elba. He was forty-two years old, a distinguished wartime broadcaster, a bestselling historian, a BBC regular, the military correspondent for the Observer and a pioneer of documentary television. He wa ... More

2017 Calibre Essay Prize (winner): 'Salt Blood'

Michael Adams
25 May 2017

It is quiet and cool and dark blue. At this depth the pressure on my body is double what it is at the surface: my heartbeat has slowed, blood has started to withdraw from my extremities an More

Andrew Fuhrmann reviews 'The Legacies of Bernard Smith: Essays on Australian Art, history and cultural politics' edited by Jaynie Anderson, Christopher R. Marshall, and Andrew Yip

Andrew Fuhrmann
30 April 2017

A persistent fascination attaches to those who help break the new wood, and so it is with Bernard Smith (1916–2011). His contribution is foundational to the study of the arts in Australia. Smith was for more than sixty years the country’s leading art historian, but he was also an educator, curator, newspaper critic, collector, memoirist, and biographer. Even as ... More

David McCooey reviews 'The Pleasures of Leisure' by Robert Dessaix

David McCooey
28 April 2017

The Last Resort (1986), a photobook by Martin Parr, includes a photograph of a woman sunbaking in the English seaside resort of New Brighton. The woman is lying, facedown and topl More

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