No 245 - October 2002
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'The Survival of Poetry': Peter Porter's ABR/La Trobe University Annual Lecture, Joy Hooton on Jan Bassett's The Facing Island , Meredith Curnow reviews Ann Curthoys' Freedom Ride , Margaret Kett reviews a selection of Young Adult Non-Fiction.
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ItemBeyond the Pale. “Black Sheep: Journey to Borroloola” by Nicholas Jose. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-10)At the book's heart is the concern for connections, to country and to people, a concern that haunts many Australians, particularly those who have been insulated from the legacies of the frontier. As those legacies make themselves felt in the wider community, as the evidence is manifest that the border between black and white has been crossed since the beginning, and the descendants of those clandestine crossings articulate a louder and louder claim to be heard, books such as “Black Sheep” are an essential part of the conversation, the attempt to keep a dialogue going across the faultline.
ItemOn the Freedom Road. "Freedom Ride: A Freedom Rider Remembers" by Ann Curthoys. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-10)Ann Curthoys’s Freedom Ride is a meticulously researched piece of Australian history, and so much more. It could sit comfortably on the required reading lists of subjects ranging from History, to Government, to Media. This ‘road story’ of peripatetic direct democracy, from people too young to assert the right to vote for change, is also an inspirational text that makes you question your own passivity to the wrongs in our world. Curthoys tells us that she began this history at a student protest in Sydney in May 1964, at a demonstration against US civil rights infringements. But the details go back to the beginning of the decade, with Krushchev declaring in the UN General Assembly in October 1960: ‘Everyone knows in what way the Aboriginal population of Australia was exterminated.’
ItemAn Obsessional Storyteller. “Xavier Herbert: Letters” by Frances de Groen and Laurie Hergenham. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-10)The cover of this substantial volume tells you what's coming: it features a photograph of Xavier Herbert, sixtyish and fit-looking, standing behind the converted 4WD that constitutes his bush camp and dressed in nothing but a pair of stubbies. His eyes are blazing and a bit mad, his shoulders slightly hunched, and he looks as if he's been holding forth for some time. To whom? For Herbert, it probably didn't matter. You can see the man Vance Palmer described in 1941: 'You feel he's got a large chaotic world of jetting imagination inside him and it will always be desperately hard for him to write because he's got a lot to say and he's got this sort of garrulousness that keeps him talking about his matter instead of brooding on it and giving it form'.
ItemColonial Romps. "Mrs Cook: The Real and Imagined Life of the Captain's Wife" by Marele Day and "Carrion Colony" by Richard King. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-10)This is a review of two books about early Australian Colonies.
ItemPreaching to the Converted? "How Simone de Beavoir Died in Australia: Stories and Essays" by Sylvia Lawson. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-10)Sylvia Lawson’s How Simone de Beauvoir Died in Australia warrants a second reading to be properly appreciated. The seven pieces in this collection are intricately connected, so that the messages are cumulatively conveyed. The book manifests its author’s ambitious desire to raise the consciousness of her readers.
ItemDeep River. "Rivers" by Peter Porter, Sean O'Brien and John Kinsella and "The State of the Rivers and Streams" by Warrick Wynne. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-10)Rivers are important to us in all sorts of ways: usefully symbolic for poets, often loved in childhood while ‘messing about in boats’, sucked dry by cotton farmers, worried over by environmentalists, boosted by local patriots, and so on. The indefatigable Australian poet John Kinsella was certainly onto a good idea when he recruited two other poets based in England to join him in a three-way livre composé about the subject. Warrick Wynne’s third collection would, from its title, seem to have much in common with the Kinsella project; in the book’s first third, this is the case. Here, the poems are all landscape, geology and weather features, sometimes employed symbolically, as in ‘The River of History’, but more often used simply for their non-human selves.