Essays and Commentary

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

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

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

Jennifer Levasseur reviews 'A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on art, sex, and the mind' by Siri Hustvedt

Jennifer Levasseur

Siri Hustvedt revels in ambiguity, the in-between places where the certainties of fact fray. In her idea-driven novels such as  ...

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Andrew Fuhrmann reviews 'Quicksilver' by Nicolas Rothwell

Andrew Fuhrmann

Quicksilver begins in magniloquence, like the prophet Isaiah. It was the cold midwinter season, we are told, when Nicolas Rothwell began his days of journeying, driving west from Papunya in the Northern Territory towards Marble Bar in Western Australia. ‘The roads were empty: for the best part of a week I saw no trace of man and his works.’ As he drove, ... More

Peter Craven reviews 'The Boy Behind the Curtain' by Tim Winton

Peter Craven

Everybody thinks they know about Tim Winton: the working-class hero from the West; the whale of a man who’s been writing since he was a boy; the master of one of ...

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Satendra Nandan reviews 'In other words: Forty years of essays' by Goenawan Mohamad, translated by Jennifer Lindsay

Satendra Nandan

Goenawan Mohamad has been a formidable Indonesian journalist for half a century, chiefly as the founder and editor of the weekly Tempo. He is also the ...

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Patrick Allington reviews 'A Long Time Coming: Essays on old age' by Melanie Joosten

Patrick Allington

Melanie Joosten begins the introduction to A Long Time Coming, her book of essays about ageing, by quoting Simone de Beauvoir: 'let us recognise ourselves ...

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Kevin Rabalais reviews 'The Abundance' by Annie Dillard

Kevin Rabalais

Read a few of the essays or chapter excerpts in Annie Dillard's The Abundance, and you might find yourself writing a letter to the author. Part of that letter might look like ...

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'How do we live with ourselves? The Australian national conscience' by Alan Atkinson

Alan Atkinson

When Australian federation was being planned and its implications first worked through, various men and women with agendas of their own set themselves ...

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Carol Middleton reviews 'All my Januaries' by Barbara Blackman

Carol Middleton

Amid the resurgence of the personal essay, Barbara Blackman's volume is a paragon of the genre. It reminds us how much experience, anecdote, and wisdom can ...

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