These writer’s scribblings, handsomely reproduced, cover two distinct periods in Murray Bail’s life: London from 1970 to 1974; and Sydney from 1988 to 2003. The notebooks from the London period, which represent roughly two-thirds of this book, were previously published as Longhand: A Writer’s Notebook (1989). While readers may find some interest in comparing the formative and the mature writer, the older Bail’s reflections on ageing and death represent the most consistently penetrating writing in Notebooks.... (read more)
This issue of open access e-journal Transnational Literature offers contributions from a 2009 symposium on migration, held in Adelaide. It is a diverse collection, appropriately so given persistent themes of dislocation, assimilation and multiculturalism. Still, perhaps diversity has its limits: the issue is burdened with Graeme Harper’s keynote symposium address, a ponderous and misplaced commentary on ‘the journey’ creative writers undertake: ‘As might already be realised, post-working can be the pre-working for future Creative Writing, and it can (and often is [sic]) emphasize the fact that creative writers are creative writers because they are actively engaged in one or more of the many acts of Creative Writing.’... (read more)
Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979) suggests that the Babel fish, which, when inserted into the ear, offers instant translations of any alien language, cannot have evolved by mere chance. Similarly, proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) argue that, as Robyn Williams summarises, ‘there are parts of the natural world so complex and engineered with such precision that only a very smart intelligence, not blundering selection, could account for them’.... (read more)
I appreciate critics who enter into a conversation with a book and who draw upon curiosity, wonder, and deep thinking to judge. Maria Tumarkin writes magnificently about writers and books.... (read more)
‘What is the use of saying, “Peace, Peace” when there is no peace below the diaphragm?’ asks Chinese writer Lin Yutang in The Importance of Living (1937). The subject of food and its manifestations – sustenance, communion, gluttony, longing – has claimed a place in the books of every era and genre, from heavenly manna in the Book of Exodus to starving gladiators in Suzanne Collins’s multi-billion-dollar The Hunger Games franchise. Writers as varied as Marcel Proust and Margaret Atwood have prioritised this theme in their work.... (read more)
ABR asked a few colleagues and contributors to nominate some books that have beguiled them – might even speak to others – at this unusual time.... (read more)
From its raw and revelatory prologue, Nigel Featherstone’s novel Bodies of Men offers a thoroughly humanising depiction of Australians during World War II. In telling the story of two soldiers, William – too young to be a corporal – and his childhood friend ...... (read more)
To celebrate the best books of 2017 Australian Book Review invited nearly forty contributors to nominate their favourite titles. Contributors include Michelle de Kretser, Susan Wyndham, James Ley, Geordie Williamson, Jane Sullivan, Tom Griffiths, Mark Edele, and Brenda Niall.... (read more)
In his fiction, Steven Carroll stretches and slows time. He combines this with deliberate over-explaining and repetition, the echoing of memories and ideas, coincidence, and theatricality. A distinctive rhythm results: when reading his work, I often find myself nodding in time to the words. Occasionally – and it happens now and again in his new novel, A New En ...
Robert Crocker reviews 'Griffith Review 55: State of Hope' edited by Julianne Schultz and Patrick Allington
South Australia remains something of a national contradiction in terms, and this is brought out well in this richly diverse and varied collection of essays and stories. Shifting its focus away from Adelaide to many of South Australia’s older industrial and pre-industrial centres, including Whyalla, Port Augusta, the Riverland, and Clare, Griffith Review’s St ...