No 257 - December, 2003 / January, 2004

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Ian Britain reviews Germaine Greer's About the Boy
Julian Burnside reviews Don Watson's Death Sentence
Peter Rose reviews Richard Freadman's Shadow of Doubt


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Now showing 1 - 20 of 40
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    Memories of the Changing 'G'. "The Temple Down the Road" by Brian Matthews [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-11) Smith, Amanda
    "The Temple Down the Road" is a book of considerable enjoyment for those who have at some time or other succumbed to the boisterous charms of the MCG. It is a meander through the history of the site and the stadium, a personal memoir of events and experiences, and a reflection on the role of the MCG in the sporting, spiritual and cultural landscape of its city, and beyond.
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    The Disappointed Man. "Shadow of Doubt: My Father and Myself" by Richard Freadman. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Rose, Peter John
    Richard 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.
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    Bad 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.
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    Tropical Dreams. "Geckos and Moths" by Patricia Johnson and "Forever in Paradise" by Apelu Tielu. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) McGirr, Michael
    "Geckos and Moths" deals incisively, yet without histrionics, with the unravelling of a dream and the fraying of an Australian colonial fiction. "Forever in Paradise" is, on the other hand, unable to deal realistically with human imperfection. The book is infatuated with its central character, Solomona Tuisamoa. The problem is that Solomona is a pompous bore. He is such an impossibly wise, just, kind, caring and virtuous man that it is difficult to relate to him at any level.
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    Not Quite Normal. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Sheahan-Bright, Robyn
    This article is a review of various Young Adult Non-Fiction books, including: Bronwyn Blake, "Julia My Sister"; Jane Carroll, "Thambaroo"; Warren Flynn "Return Ticket"; Doug MacLeod, "Tumble Turn"; James Moloney, "Black Taxi"; Martine Murray, "How To Make A Bird"; Leonie Norrington, "The Spirit of Barrumbi"; and Tony Shillitoe, "Caught in the Headlights".
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    A Fine Line. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Clark, Sherryl
    This 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".
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    Bestsellers / Subscription.
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12)
    This item is the 2003 Bestsellers and subscription page from this issue.
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    Best Books of the Year.
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Various
    This 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.
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    Abundant Pleasures. "The Diaries of Donald Friend, Volume 2" by Paul Hetherington (ed). [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Thompson, John
    With 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.
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    Mad About the Boy. "The Boy" by Germaine Greer. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Britain, Ian
    Taboo - or not taboo? That is the question you soon start asking yourself if you bother with the text of this book and its purported revelations on the subject of ‘male beauty’. It is a stimulating question, but you end up wondering if the publishers, at least, mean you to go to such bother when they’ve hardly gone to any themselves, in the way of editing, to ensure some cogency in their celebrity author’s arguments.
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    Colliding Brazils. "A Death in Brazil: A Book of Omissions" by Peter Robb. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Ireland, Rowan
    Australian 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.
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    Energised Fences. "Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language" by Don Watson. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2004-12) Burnside, Julian
    Clearly, 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.
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    Dog Whistle Politics. "What's Wrong With the Liberal Party?" by Greg Barns. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2004-12) Blewett, Neal
    It 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.
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    Orwell's Legacies. "Orwell's Australia: From Cold War to Culture Wars" by Dennis Glover. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Bramston, Troy
    In recent years, Orwell’s legacy has been examined and re-examined, with many trying to unravel his words and deeds to discover their true meaning. The left and right have invoked and condemned Orwell, who expressed progressive and conservative views, opinions that were shaped over time, as a result of experience, instinct, observation and thought. Glover’s appeal to the left to understand Howard’s Australia in the context of Orwell's thought is timely and perceptive.
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    Advances, Contents, Letters, Contributors and Imprints.
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12)
    This item contains miscellaneous pieces from this issue.
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    Still a Way to Go. "Australian Republicanism: A Reader" by Mark McKenna and Wayne Hudson (eds). [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Rundle, Guy
    As Mark McKenna and Wayne Hudson point out in their introduction to this anthology of writings, speeches and transcripts on the inglorious republic, there is no one single thing called ‘Australian republicanism’. The cause has been a part of movements so different that the participants would not necessarily recognise common ground with one another. Ironically, the anthology that has resulted from this aim tends to mirror the problems of the movement that it set out to address. Most interesting of all is the way in which this book has distorted the picture of the past by leaving out the mass cultural forms and enthusiasm within which republicanism is set. It is a mistake that the movement has been trying to correct, and this book is part of that. Judging by its final form, there is still quite a way to go.
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    Dead 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, David
    There 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.
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    Mind Hoards. "Whitefella Jump Up: The Shortest Way to Nationhood (Quarterly Essay 11)" by Germaine Greer and "Made in England: Australia's British Inheritance (Quarterly Essay 12)" by David Malouf. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Fraser, Morag
    With Greer proposing that white Australians embrace Aboriginality, that ‘the gubba move towards the blackfella’, and with Malouf working to the title "Made in England: Australia’s British Inheritance", one might expect, at best, a frisson of dissonance. But the gods had more in mind. The two essays, about as different as can be in cadence and argument, nonetheless intersect, sometimes run parallel. Malouf, like Greer, is engaged in a radical exploration of the way Australians understand themselves and their history, and in a language alive to depths of thought and feeling, not just the surface reflexes of nationalism. In the ripples of deep thought, the writers overlap.
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    Borrowed Glamour. "The Boy" by Julian Davies. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2003-12) Richardson, Owen
    It 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.
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    Funny 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, Frederick
    There 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’.
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