Interviews

A distinction needs to made between the critic and the book reviewer, because not all reviewers are critics. The reviews that run in the literary pages of newspapers – plot synopsis followed by puffery or condemnation – bear little relation to criticism, not least because critics read closely while reviewers tend to speed-read. Criticism is an art, and the finest criticism should be equal to its subject: a good critic should have a distinctive voice, a good ear, and a strong style. I like audacity and eccentricity in criticism, and I particularly admire those critics who are alert not only to the words on the page but to the ‘unconscious’ of the text – what is elided, repressed or not quite expressed in the writing.

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Toby Fitch is poetry editor of Overland and a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Sydney. He is the author of seven collections of poetry, most recently Sydney Spleen (Giramondo, 2021).

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An interview with Chloe Hooper

by Australian Book Review
May 2022, no. 442

Chloe Hooper is the author of The Arsonist: A mind on fire and The Tall Man: Death and life on Palm Island and two novels, A Child’s Book of True Crime and The Engagement. Her most recent book is Bedtime Story.

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The list is long, and takes the scenic route, from Homer to Hill, on to Plath / and Sexton, Murray, Adamson, and many I’ve forgotten. An overgrown path / with signposts lit or down, pressing on by star or map light, word of mouth / or accidental find. Influence is confluence, where shock of emotion / meets quiet thought. I follow leads, read every day, avoiding emoticons. 

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Troy Bramston has been a senior writer and columnist with The Australian newspaper since 2011. He was previously a columnist with the Sunday Telegraph. He is the author or editor of eleven books, including Robert Menzies: The art of politics (2019) and Paul Keating: The big-picture leader (2016), and he co-authored The Truth of the Palace Letters (2020) and The Dismissal (2015) with Paul Kelly. His most recent book is Bob Hawke: Demons and destiny (2022).

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Mary Beard is one of the world’s leading classicists and cultural commentators. She is professor of classics at the University of Cambridge. Her most recent book is Twelve Caesars (2021).

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Don Anderson taught American, Australian, Irish, and English Literature at the University of Sydney from 1965 to 2000. Since 1982 he has written for ABR more than sixty times. His reviews and essays have also appeared in The Age Monthly Review, The Bulletin, Weekend Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Southerly, Meanjin, Quadrant, The National Times, Westerly, Island, and The Independent Monthly. His critical writings are collected in Hot Copy (1986), Real Opinions (1992), and Text & Sex (1995).

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Anna Clark is the author of Making Australian History (Penguin), a history of Australian history, and has written extensively on history education, historiography, and historical consciousness. She is currently Director of the Australian Centre for Public History at the University of Technology Sydney.

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Evelyn Juers is the author of House of Exile (2008), The Recluse (2012), and The Dancer: A biography for Philippa Cullen (2021).

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I was a lecturer in Australian literature, and some of the writers I wanted to lecture on couldn’t find publishers for their work. Also I found I preferred to converse with writers who were living rather than with the dead. And then there was the Demidenko affair, which made me angry enough to start HEAT in 1996.

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