Browsing No 257 - December, 2003 / January, 2004 by Title
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ItemAbundant Pleasures. "The Diaries of Donald Friend, Volume 2" by Paul Hetherington (ed). [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Thompson, JohnWith the swift appearance of a second volume of Friend's diaries, a new editor wrestles afresh with the many challenges embedded in Friend’s rich literary legacy. Hetherington offers here a spirited and overdue attempt to comprehend the essence of Friend’s achievement, in what the diaries show was the central discipline of his life. ItemAdvances, Contents, Letters, Contributors and Imprints.(Australian Book Review, 2003-12)This item contains miscellaneous pieces from this issue. ItemAung Myint.(Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Leith, DeniseTwenty-one years in jail for writing and distributing a pamphlet. This was the sentence that the Burmese junta’s military court handed down to Aung Myint, a Burmese poet, journalist and member of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). ItemBad Actors. "Vernon God Little" by D.B.C. Pierre. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Ley, James"Vernon God Little" is a black comedy and a vicious satire on the cruelty and narcissism of American society. Most of the action takes place in the town of Martirio, Texas, a small pocket of affluence ringed by decaying suburbs and populated by a collection of grotesques of varying degrees of unpleasantness. This novel is, in the end, morally ambiguous. When it concludes, the question of whether Vernon has succeeded or capitulated is left unresolved. Most likely, it is unresolvable. But that’s the Human Condition for you. Watch out for that fucker. ItemBest Books of the Year.(Australian Book Review, 2003-12) VariousThis article identifies favourite publications from 2003 selected by the following writers: Tony Birch, Neal Blewett, Ian Britain, Alison Broinowski, Paul Brunton, Inga Clendinnen, Martin Duwell, Morag Fraser, Andrea Goldsmith, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Peter Goldsworthy, Bridget Griffen-Foley, Clive James, Gail Jones, Nicholas Jose, Brian McFarlane, Brenda Niall, Ros Pesman, Peter Porter, Peter Steele, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, and Robyn Williams. ItemBorrowed Glamour. "The Boy" by Julian Davies. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Richardson, OwenIt is Davies’s failure to think his way fully into the material that keeps "The Boy" middling warm rather than hot. Erotic fiction, after all, is a kind of pastoral, and its demands on the imagination of the writer are exacting. You can see Davies trying for the rapt quality of James Salter’s "A Sport and a Pastime" or John Scott’s "What I Have Written", but he never gets there. ItemColliding Brazils. "A Death in Brazil: A Book of Omissions" by Peter Robb. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Ireland, RowanAustralian writer Peter Robb has once again written a whole, complex, foreign society into our comprehension. This time it is Brazil, its myriad worlds of experience, its cruelly stolid immobility and exhilarating changefulness, its very incoherence, somehow made accessible to our understanding. ItemDead Certs. "The Best Australian Poems 2003" by Peter Craven (ed) and "The Best Australian Poetry 2003" by Martin Duwell (ed). [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) McCooey, DavidThere is no need to choose between either "The Best Australian Poetry 2003" or "The Best Australian Poems 2003"; they are both essential. One can only hope that these series will flourish for many years. Some of the poems collected by Duwell and Craven will surely still be read in years to come. ItemThe Disappointed Man. "Shadow of Doubt: My Father and Myself" by Richard Freadman. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Rose, Peter JohnRichard Feadman's first work intended for a non-academic readership is, in his own words, ‘the Son’s Book of the Father’ and thus belongs to a venerable genre. Freadman, whose contribution to our understanding of autobiography has been acute, is well qualified to draw on this tradition in portraying his own father and analysing their relationship. ItemDog Whistle Politics. "What's Wrong With the Liberal Party?" by Greg Barns. [review](Australian Book Review, 2004-12) Blewett, NealIt is a measure of his courage that Barns ventures so many predictions about the future course of Liberal politics; it is also a measure of his understanding and sophistication that these cautious predictions are worthy of serious debate. If his analyses, along with his decision to join the Australian Democrats, reflect a despair about the future of liberalism within the Liberal Party, they may yet stimulate that depressed and depressing liberal wing to renew its struggle for the mastery of the party. Yet such a scenario is unlikely until electoral defeat opens up the Liberal Party to new possibilities. ItemA Double Fan. "After China" by Brian Castro [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Daniel, HelenHelen Daniel’s review first appeared in the July 1992 issue of ABR, along with David Gilbey’s review of the same novel. Allen & Unwin was the original publisher. The reissue contains an introduction by Katharine England. ItemEnergised Fences. "Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language" by Don Watson. [review](Australian Book Review, 2004-12) Burnside, JulianClearly, the public language is in trouble. "Death Sentence" is a dazzling mix of analysis and mockery, gently basted with Watson’s mordant wit. All Australians should read this book. All Australians should be grateful that it has been written. ItemFidelities of Summer. "Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems" by John Kinsella [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Steele, PeterI have no idea whether Kinsella knows the poetry of the American Ben Belitt, who died as an old man in August this year. Belitt’s work is an acquired, and a minority, taste, but it happens to be much to my liking. Commentary on his poetry has sooner or later to reckon with its combination of the opulent, the armoured and the violent — with its drastic character. Kinsella’s work strikes me as being, frequently, similarly drastic. ItemA Fine Line. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Clark, SherrylThis article is a review of various Children's Picture Books, including: Brian Caswell, illus. Matt Ottley, "Hyram and B."; John Heffernan, illus. Freya Blackwood, "Two Summers"; Tom Keneally, illus. Gillian Johnson, "Roos in Shoes"; Sue Lawson, illus. Caroline Magerl, "My Gran's Different"; David Suzuki and Sarah Ellis, illus. Sheena Lott, "Salmon Forest"; and Colin Thompson, "The Violin Man". ItemFunny Inside Feelings. "The Uncyclopedia" by Gideon Haigh and "Names From Here and Far: The New Holland Dictionary of Names" by William T.S. Noble. [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Ludowyk, FrederickThere is a fundamental problem with Noble's book. Nowhere are the principles of inclusion and exclusion explained in any way. The title of the book, despite the fact that ‘New Holland’ is also the name of the publisher, leads us to expect that it is dealing with names that exist in Australia — indeed, the blurb on the back cover describes the book as ‘a comprehensive reference to names in Australia’. There may well be very good reasons why many names do not appear in the book, but those reasons are nowhere stated. While there may be a dig at the seriousness of the standard encyclopedia in the title of Gideon Haigh's "Uncyclopedia", and while the structure of the book subverts the order of the standard encyclopedia, the writer is clearly a lover of the often curious facts an encyclopedia can store. If there is parody here, it is directed at those earnestly serious and seriously dull ‘books of lists’. ItemGeorge Orwell: A Centenary Tribute [essay](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Manne, RobertDespite all the horrors of his age, there remained in Orwell, even as illness overtook him, a feeling in his limbs, an exuberance of spirit, a fascination with the details of life, a love of the world. Orwell tells us that, when he was shot through the throat in Spain and believed he was about to die, what he experienced was 'a violent resentment at having to leave this world which, when all is said and done, suits me so well'. ItemGiant Light Buckets. "Stromlo: An Australian Observatory" by Tom Frame and Don Faulkner [review](Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Williams, RobynFor whom is this book intended? Who needs the detail of instruments and their capacity, committees and their deliberations, institutions and their rivalries? It is not, according to the authors, 'intended for professional or academic astronomers', though they hope these will 'find much of interest'. It is therefore, by implication, meant for those of us with a lay interest in the cosmos and the struggles required to persuade the leaders of this rich country to support mainstream physics, for which Australia should have a box seat.