Essays and Commentary
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 audience. It appeared just months after ...... (read more)
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 ...
David Schlosberg reviews 'How Did We Get Into This Mess? Politics, equality, nature' by George Monbiot
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 commentaries. Yes, we need to understand the problems that illustrate that central question – the clear mess we’re in. From Monbiot’s position, the symptoms range, impressively, from individual loneliness to the ecological disaster of sheep, from drone killings... (read more)
Wilfrid Prest reviews 'A Historian for all Seasons: Essays for Geoffrey Bolton' edited by Stuart Macintyre, Lenore Layman, and Jenny Gregory
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 little in common beyond that association ...... (read more)
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 first book ...... (read more)
‘Desert Masterpiece’ (Introduction to the Text Classics edition of Tobruk 1941 by Chester Wilmot) by Peter Cochrane
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 ...
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 and move into the space my compressed lungs have created ...... (read 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
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 ...
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 topless, on a concrete ramp, directly in front of the caterpillar tracks of a gigantic excavator ...... (read more)
Jennifer Levasseur reviews 'A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on art, sex, and the mind' by Siri Hustvedt
Siri Hustvedt revels in ambiguity, the in-between places where the certainties of fact fray. In her idea-driven novels such as ...