Fiona Gruber

Fiona Gruber reviews 'The Arsonist' by Chloe Hooper

Fiona Gruber
25 September 2018

The language we use to describe fire, Chloe Hooper points out, gives it a creaturely shape: it has flanks, tongues, fingers, a tail. It licks, it devours. Fascinated by its mythic force, w More

American Song (Red Stitch Actors' Theatre) ★★★★

Fiona Gruber
09 October 2017

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman’s humanistic, wheeling manifesto of the American destiny underpins Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith’s one-man play, American SongMore

Fiona Gruber reviews 'Wedding Bush Road' by David Francis

Fiona Gruber
24 February 2017

Wedding Bush Road is a novel about contrasts and conflicts: new-age America versus an old-fashioned Australia; messy rural versus shipshape urban; high status versus low; the past versus the present.

Expat Daniel Rawson is a successful lawyer in Los Angeles. He has been tempered by seven years of ‘California dreaming’; life is good. His graceful ... More

Fiona Gruber reivews 'Fair Game: The incredible untold story of Scientology in Australia' by Steve Cannane

Fiona Gruber
29 November 2016

When you join the Church of Scientology, you sign a contract for a billion years. You are then audited with the help of a machine called an ‘E Meter’, which helps uncover areas of conflict and blockages in your current life and previous ones. The goal, after undergoing an intensive and expensive course of study into the theories and practice of the Church’s fo ... More

Fiona Gruber reviews 'The Little Red Chairs' by Edna O’Brien

Fiona Gruber
24 February 2016

Edna O'Brien, in a recent interview, recalled being stuck for a plot. It was a filmmaker's remark about Tolstoy that sparked her latest novel, The Little Red Chairs: '[Charlie McCarthy] said, "Tolstoy said there are only two great stories in the world. A Man on a Journey, or A Stranger Comes to Town." And at that moment I thought, I've got it. I'm going to ... More

Arts Highlights of the Year

Robyn Archer et al.
26 October 2015

To highlight Australian Book Review's arts coverage and to celebrate some of the year's memorable concerts, operas, films, ballets, plays, and exhibitions, we invited a group of critics and arts professionals to nominate their favourites – and to nominate one production they are looking forward to in 2016. (We indicate which works were reviewed in Arts Up ... More

Fiona Gruber reviews 'Banksia Lady' by Carolyn Landon

Fiona Gruber
30 September 2015

In March 2006, botanical illustrator Celia Rosser travelled to a remote station in Western Australia to witness and draw the first-ever recorded flowering of Banksia Rosserae. The spiky yellow spheres appear only after rain, which, in this arid part of the continent, can be years in the coming. The Australian plant had only been discovered four years earlier, ... More

Fiona Gruber reviews 'The Self-Portrait' by James Hall

Fiona Gruber
29 April 2015

We live in a world obsessed with self-images. Thanks to digital photography and the Internet, we can all star in and manipulate the drama of our lives. But, as James Hall reminds us, artists have been experimenting with self-representation for centuries. From a quartzite stela of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s court sculptor Bak standing with his wife Taheri (c.1350 < ... More

Fiona Gruber reviews 'The Mystery of the Venus Island Fetish' by Dido Butterworth (Tim Flannery)

Fiona Gruber
02 March 2015

It is 1932 and as the SS Mokambo steams into Sydney Harbour with Archie Meek on board, the Australian Museum’s young anthropologist is about to discover that he has committed a terrible faux pas. After five years away in the Venus islands studying the customs and culture of its head-hunting inhabitants, Meek is eager to be reunited with Beatrice Goodenough, ... More

Portraiture by stealth

Fiona Gruber
13 August 2014

I had my portrait done by stealth the other day. Throughout the innocent chatter of a dinner party, while I artlessly revealed my double chin and paraded my characterful nose, fellow guest and Melbourne art bandit W.H. Chong was scribbling away on his smart phone. I just thought he’d got bored and was playing Angry Birds.

I should have realised; as well as ... More

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