Essays and Commentary

Peter Craven reviews 'The Young Desire It' by Kenneth Mackenzie

Peter Craven
25 August 2013

The legend of Kenneth Mackenzie (1913–55) has always hovered around the corridors of Australian literature. From Western Australia, was he? Died young, didn’t he? Trouble with drink, wasn’t it? Or sexual identity, could it have been? They say he’s worth reading but nobody much has, have they?

Well, the republication of The Young ... More

In the Moscow archives

Sheila Fitzpatrick
22 August 2013
Distinguished Soviet historian Sheila Fitzpatrick – now back in Australia – writes about her remarkable experiences in Moscow from 1966 and about the perils of being an exchange student and researcher. More

Simon Caterson on 'John le Carré’s spy at fifty'

Simon Caterson
26 May 2013

In describing the enduring cultural impact of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold – published fifty years ago and often nominated as the best spy novel ever written – a good place to start, strange though it may sound, is James Bond. John le Carré’s squalid yet subtle world of Cold War spies may appear antithetical to the glamorous fantasy of Bond. ... More

Penguins on Horseback

Emma McEwin
25 May 2013

Wandering through the Mawson collection at the South Australian Museum one winter afternoon, I stare through the glass at the reconstruction of my great-grandfather, Douglas Mawson’s room in the hut, the sound of a moaning blizzard in my ears. The eerie sound of the wind coming through the installation, so familiar to Mawson and his men, is strangely allurin ... More

Julian Meyrick: 'National cultural policy-making 101'

Julian Meyrick
27 April 2013

To estimate the amount of waffle in a cultural policy document, try this patented test: (i) identify a given sentence or section; (ii) highlight the key terms; (iii) swap the key terms around. If it still makes as much sense, it’s waffle. Another way of saying this is that there are always two people responsible for cultural policy. The first is reasonable, ... More

'The Lonely Death' by Hayley Katzen

Hayley Katzen
26 April 2013
Find Me Before I Die a Lonely Death.com

– Title of an album by electronic band Minuit

A human body exposed to summer heat can be reduced to bones in nine days. First the flies and maggots feast on the body’s fluids. As the tissues decay, they feed on the whole body through orifices and wounds. N ... More

Everyone’s a Critic

Kerryn Goldsworthy
24 April 2013

‘We place on paper without hesitation a tissue of flatteries, to which in society we could not give utterance, for our lives, without either blushing or laughing outright,’ wrote Edgar Allan Poe in 1846. His title was ‘The Literati of New York City’; his topic was the discrepancy, as he saw it, between the critics’ private opinions of books and the p ... More

2013 Calibre Prize (Winner): Because it's Your Country

Martin Thomas
24 March 2013

The morgue in Gunbalanya holds no more than half a dozen corpses – and, as usual, it was full. When the Old Man died in the wet season of 2012, they had to fly him to Darwin, only to discover that the morgue there was already overcrowded. So they moved him again, this time to Katherine, where they put him on ice until the funeral. The hot climate notwithstan ... More

Ruth Starke's essay: 'Media Don'

Ruth Starke
26 February 2013

It is a hot gusty day in the summer of 1958, the sort of day that melts the tar on the road and brings the red dust down from the north. In the inner-city Adelaide suburb of Norwood, Mario Feleppa, twenty-eight and not long arrived in Australia, is fed up. Not with the heat – he is used to heat back in Italy – but with horses. Specifically, the horses that ... More

'Signs and portents:The outlook for America in Obama’s second term' by Morag Fraser

Morag Fraser
31 January 2013

November in America signals a time to gather in, take stock and breathe a little. The elections are done by the end of the first week. Thanksgiving beckons, the high holidays begin, media fever subsides – a little – and morphs into retrospective political analysis and projected anxiety about the future, especially, since 2008, the economic future.

It is ... More

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