A story called ‘The Burden’, which appears at about the halfway mark of this collection, begins like this: ‘Graham was finding the burden of freedom a little too much for him …’ He is working alone in his room above a Chinese restaurant near the Berkeley campus of the University of California, where he is a visiting Australian Fellow, writing a novel about ... More
Aproaching Thomas Wyatt’s great but notoriously resistant poem ‘They flee from me that sometime did me seek / With naked foot stalking in my chamber’, poet and critic Vincent Buckley wrote, ‘The sense of purposive yet mysterious activity created in this opening stanza is also a matter of its sensuousness … The critical problem is to define this … sensuou ... More
‘You acquired the habit of disguise and now you can’t shed it.’ This observation, made by a nameless old man to Lilith Goldberg, one of the three main protagonists of The Claimant, lies at the heart of the novel, though it shares that vibrantly beating heart with much else: the implications and intricacies of privilege; the iron grip of lineage; the com ... More
In his brief preface to Volume 1 of the Australian Dictionary of Biography 1788–1850 A–H (1966), Douglas Pike describes the ‘all-Australian, Commonwealth-wide … consultation and co-operation’ underpinning the volume and notes that the breadth and complexity of its intellectual network meant the Dictionary could ‘truly be ... More
WHen did you first write for ABR?
1981, during John McLaren’s incumbency as editor.
What prompted you to take up book reviewing?
Well, it took me up, really. It hadn’t occurred to me to review books until I was invited to write a piece for a ... More
In a notable month for major new Australian fiction, Tim Winton’s Eyrie stands out. Brian Matthews reviews this darkly funny novel – ‘a scarifying assessment of the way we live now’More
The writing of a novel, Alex Miller has said, ‘is a kind of journey of the imagination in which there’s the liberty to dream your own dream … There’s always got to be a model located somewhere in fact and reality … But some of your best characters are what you think of as being purely made up, just characters that needed to be there.’... More
To begin at the beginning. ‘When the first Pakeha ship came,’ Te Horeta told the explorer Charles Heaphy, ‘I was a lad … [about twelve years old].’ Watching the ‘white people’ row ashore, ‘paddling with their backs to the way they were going’, the boy and his companions ‘thought they must have eyes behind their heads’.
Conquering ... More
In his The Art of Wrist-Spin Bowling (1995), Peter Philpott remarks: ‘If there is one factor in spin bowling which all spinners should accept … it is the concept that the ball should be spun hard. Not rolled, not gently turned, but flicked, ripped, fizzed.’ Richie Benaud agrees: ‘Spin it fiercely. Spin it hard.’ The intensity of the grip that produc ... More
Robert Drewe’s first memoir, The Shark Net (2000) – an account of ‘memories and murder’ – opens in the transforming ‘different sunlight’ of a courtroom, a light that seems ‘harsher, dustier, more ancient looking’, making the figure in the dock somehow ‘uglier, smaller’, ‘like a criminal in a B-movie’, the very ‘stereotype of a croo ... More