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Peter Craven

Peter Craven

Peter Craven is one of Australia's best-known literary and culture critics. He writes regularly for both the Fairfax and Murdoch press about literature, film, television, and theatre.

Peter Craven reviews 'Seven Types of Ambiguity' by Elliot Perlman

November 2003, no. 256 01 November 2003
Elliot Perlman made a bit of a splash a few years ago with Three Dollars (1998). Parts of the novel were underfictionalised in the most blatant way, parts of it seemed to represent nothing more than the fervencies of what Perlman thought (most of it staunch stuff agin globalisation), but it seemed undeniable that the life and times of these south suburban Melburnian wine and cheesers represented, ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'The Unknown Terrorist' by Richard Flanagan

November 2006, no. 286 01 November 2006
Richard Flanagan came to prominence some years ago like a collective delusion. Death of a River Guide (1994) sent a thrill through the literary community because of the raciness of its never-ending stories and in 1995, the baleful Year of Demidenko, we found ourselves giving the last of the Victorian Premier’s Prizes for new fiction to the Tasmanian arriviste who wrote fabulism like a Douanier R ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews ‘Macquarie Pen Anthology of Australian Literature’ edited by Nicholas Jose

September 2009, no. 314 01 September 2009
There are a hundred ways of putting together any anthology, most of which are going to annoy somebody. In the case of that much sought-after beast, Australian literature, editors have a fair chance of turning into the quarry. It is not so long since J.I.M. Stewart said, from his chair of English in Adelaide, that there wasn’t any Australian literature so he was going to lecture on D.H. Lawrence ... (read more)

'The sheer power of limelight' by Peter Craven

December 2009–January 2010, no. 317 01 December 2009
Clive James has been at the business of writing now for so long that his literary activities have almost outlived the fame that used to get in the way of their apprehension. Twenty or so years ago, it was possible to think that the man who clowned around in those ‘Postcards’ travelogues on television, and who seemed to reach some apogee of self-satisfaction and self-definition chatting to cele ... (read more)

'Baby Dante and the Apocalypse: Filming Cormac McCarthy’s The Road' by Peter Craven

March 2010, no. 319 01 March 2010
My heart sank when I heard that John Hillcoat was to direct a film of Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road (2006), one of the more terminally grim performances in recent modern fiction. It is the story of a little boy who roams the post-nuclear devastated earth in the company of his father, while the world draws to an end amid murder, rape, cannibalism, and abysses of corruption – an inferno of a ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Horse' by Geraldine Brooks

July 2022, no. 444 25 June 2022
Horse? Could that title sound familiar because it was a Richard Harris movie of the 1960s? Well, Geraldine Brooks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for March (2005) and author of novels about everything from the characters in Little Women to the life of King David, is not one to be deterred by daunting precedents. She is a senior journalist who has gone on to use her capacity to master information and ... (read more)

'The Well': A sensitive adaptation of Elizabeth Jolley's dramatic novel

September 1997, no. 194 01 September 1997
The Australian film industry got going in the 1970s perhaps just a little before the resurgence of Australian publishing and perhaps for that reason there has been less interplay between Australian film and Australian writing than there might have been. Patrick White raged and roared about the prospect of Joseph Losey and Max Von Sydow making a film of Voss, but that was the tormenting hope of a m ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Last Letter to a Reader: Essays' by Gerald Murnane

December 2021, no. 438 24 November 2021
No contemporary Australian writer has higher claims to immortality than Gerald Murnane and none exhibits narrower tonal range. It’s a long time since we encountered the boy with his marbles and his liturgical colours in some Bendigo of the mind’s dreaming in Tamarisk Row (1974). There was the girl who was the embodiment of dreaming in A Lifetime on Clouds (1976). After The Plains (1982) c ... (read more)

'Highbrow and Lowbrow' by Peter Craven

October 1998, no. 205 01 October 1998
The last thing a highbrow hack needs is to find himself in a sustained bout of controversy with a blockbusting writer from the other side of the tracks. A few weeks ago at the Melbourne Writers Festival, I found myself a participant in a discussion about reviewing (and whether the critic was a friend or a foe) which rapidly turned into a sustained accusation on the part of the bestselling novelist ... (read more)

Peter Craven reviews 'Reading the Holocaust' by Inga Clendinnen

October 1998, no. 205 01 October 1998
The Holocaust is a subject which numbs the mind and petrifies the soul. This is the point at which Inga Clendinnen starts her remarkable set of essays about it. The Holocaust is a Gorgon and the only way to destroy it, Perseus-like, is to hold it’s image on the screen of the shield and stare back. The historian of The Aztecs, this remarkable woman who has always attended to the inflections of hu ... (read more)
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