Essays and Commentary

Emily Laidlaw reviews 'Small Acts of Disappearance' by Fiona Wright

Emily Laidlaw
23 December 2015

Reflecting on the first day she attended a clinic for eating disorders, Sydney poet Fiona Wright admits: 'I'm ... not sure that I would ever have gone ahead with the admission if I hadn't thought that I could write about it later.' This is a remarkably self-aware statement, one that encapsulates the fierce intelligence of her linked essays in Small Acts of Disap ... More

'Sabotage: How the attack on renewables undermines government' by David Schlosberg

David Schlosberg
24 September 2015

‘Pathetically inadequate’ was probably the most frequent description of the government’s voluntary emissions proposal for the United Nations Climate Change Conference; the description fits their climate and en ... More

'The Forest at the Edge of Time' by Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay
24 September 2015

Let’s begin, somewhere around 4,500 bce, in a small patch of soil on the south-west coast of Western Australia. An ovule and some pollen combine on the crest of a ridge overlooking the sea, and a plant begins to grow. It’s a little thing with juvenile leaves which will become a faint ... More

'The scientist of his own experience: A Profile of Gerald Murnane' by Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns
28 July 2015

The town of Goroke (population six hundred) stands almost exactly between Melbourne and Adelaide, in the Wimmera region of Victoria. It is, in many ways, a typical small country town. If you drive there in the morning during late spring or early summer, you’ll need to slow the car to avoid kangaroos on the road. Magpies are everywhere. Horses and other livestock m ... More

Carol Middleton reviews 'Dear Life' by Karen Hitchcock

Carol Middleton
29 May 2015

In her long-form essay Dear Life, columnist and fiction writer Karen Hitchcock considers how we in Australia treat the elderly and dying. To the task she brings her formidable skills as a writer and her experience at the coalface, working as a staff physician in a Melbourne public hospital. The result is a sensitive, rigorous, and moving account that ex ... More

Tony Birch on 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith' by Thomas Keneally for Reading Australia

Tony Birch
27 May 2015

Thomas Keneally’s novel The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1972) is based in part on historical events, particularly the crimes committed by Jimmy Governor, an Aboriginal man from New South Wales. In 1900, Governor was a key figure involved in the killing of nine Europeans, including five women and children. The killings followed Governor’s marriage t ... More

Reading Australia: 'That Deadman Dance' by Kim Scott

Patrick Allington
27 May 2015

The shortlist for the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award, which included Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, was controversial because it consisted of only three novels, all written by men. The exclusion of women writers for that year itself was noteworthy: for example, Fiona McGregor’s fine novel of Sydney, Indelible InkMore

'Sound Bridges: A Profile of Gurrumul' by Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett
27 May 2015
In April 2011 the Australian edition of Rolling Stone featured a cover photo of Yolngu multi-instrumentalist and singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu ... More

Reading Australia: 'Journey to the Stone Country' by Alex Miller

Morag Fraser
20 May 2015

There is no recommended apprenticeship for writers. Nor are there any prescribed personal or professional qualifications. Hermits, obsessives, insurance clerks, customs officers, women who embroider, men who write letters, public servants, soldiers, drunks, provincial doctors and gulag inmates have all become great writers. How? A mystery. But avidity – about the ... More

Luke Slattery reviews 'Being There' by David Malouf

Luke Slattery
27 April 2015

In ‘Birthday Poem at Thirty’, a young David Malouf considers his place in the scheme of things as dawn breaks over an unnamed and unlovely ‘northern town’. The poet, who seems dislodged from home, regards himself with a dry eye – ‘no visible scars / no medals’ – and wonders where he will go from here, and how far. ‘Far indeed’, is the answer life ... More

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