Released every Thursday, the ABR podcast features our finest reviews, poetry, fiction, interviews, and commentary.
Lisa Gorton on Helen Garner’s third volume of diaries
The sense of an ending
‘I would like to write about dominance, revulsion, separation, the horrible struggles between people who love each other,’ wrote Helen Garner, foreshadowing How to End a Story, the final instalment of her published diaries, following Yellow Notebook (2019) and One Day I’ll Remember This (2020). While the first two volumes spanned eight years apiece, How to End a Story spans only three. Starting in 1995, shortly after the release of Garner’s The First Stone, it details the dissolution of her marriage to another writer, V. As Lisa Gorton notes, this volume differs from its precursors both in tone and focus: ‘This one is as compelling as a detective story. This one is edited with the sense of an ending.’
Lisa Gorton is an award-winning poet, novelist, and critic, and a former Poetry Editor of ABR. Her most recent book is a collection of poems, Empirical (Giramondo, 2019).
This week we turn to My Octopus Teacher, a documentary that has proven controversial since its publication on Netflix in late 2020. As Anne Rutherford discusses in her luminous review, My Octopus Teacher follows the descent of Craig Foster, naturalist and filmmaker, into the briny world of a particular octopus. The documentary captures the burgeoning affinity between free-diver and cephalopod, prompting questions of anthropomorphism and to what extent humankind can establish a meaningful connection with the animal kingdom.... (read more)
In 2017, Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his masterful novels, which, in the judges’ words, uncover 'the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world'. His new work, Klara and the Sun, is his first novel published since winning the Nobel Prize. In today's episode, Beejay Silcox discusses the novel and our expectations of the author, and reads in full her review which appears in ABR's March issue.... (read more)
Australian universities are doing it tough – hit hard by the pandemic, compelled to find new ways of teaching during lockdown, and confronted by a federal government ostensibly unsympathetic to much of their work, especially in the humanities. International education – formerly one of Australia’s most lucrative export industries – is haemorrhaging. In today's episode, Peter Tregear – academic, author, critic – reads his review of Australian Universities: A history of common cause by Gwilym Croucher and James Waghorne, published by UNSW Press.... (read more)
Paul Kildea is a man of many parts – author, musician, new artistic director of Musica Viva – and a regular contributor to ABR. In this week’s podcast, he talks to Peter Rose about the challenges of programming Musica Viva’s season during a pandemic and about Benjamin Britten, whose opera A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a highlight of the 2021 Adelaide Festival. Paul Kildea – who will conduct the opera – is the author of a biography of Britten.... (read more)
In today’s episode, Naama Grey-Smith reads her review of At the Edge of the Solid World, the second book of fiction by the Australian writer Daniel Davis Wood. The novel follows the breakdown of the lives of a man and wife in the aftermath of the death of their firstborn. Naama Grey-Smith, an editor, publisher and critic based in Fremantle, Western Australia, reviews the book for ABR’s January-February issue – describing it as ‘a masterclass in wedding form to content’.... (read more)
The events of January 6 shocked the world. In this episode of the ABR Podcast Samuel Watts reads his article 'This Is America' and offers a historical perspective. As Watts notes, 'To view the assault on the US Capitol as the climax of a dramatic, but brief, period of authoritarianism in the US is a potentially dangerous mistake. This attack was just the latest iteration in a long-lasting tradition of anti-democratic, white supremacist violence that has plagued the Republic since, at least, the Civil War.'(read more)
The Peter Porter Poetry Prize, now in its seventeenth year and worth a total of $10,000, this year attracted more than 1300 entries from 33 different countries. It’s our pleasure now to present the five shortlisted poets, who introduce and read their shortlisted poems. Their poems appear online and in the January–February print edition of ABR. Single print issues can be bought here.
Earlier this year, the National Archives of Australia – after an epic legal battle – finally released the Palace Letters, a substantial cache of correspondence shedding light on the involvement of Buckingham Palace in the lead-up to the dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975. In today's episode, Jon Piccini talks with Peter Rose about two new books that interrogate the significance of the letters: The Truth of the Palace Letters by Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston, and The Palace Letters by Jenny Hocking. Piccini reviews both titles in his review in our upcoming January–February issue.... (read more)
Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle are two of the most polarising figures in French history. In today’s episode, Peter Rose talks to leading historian Peter McPhee about Patrice Gueniffey’s new book on the lasting impact of these two leaders and the French people’s fascination with ‘great men’.
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