No 245 - October 2002

Permanent URI for this collection

'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.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 17 of 17
  • Item
    Beyond the Pale. “Black Sheep: Journey to Borroloola” by Nicholas Jose. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Mahood, Kim
    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.
  • Item
    On the Freedom Road. "Freedom Ride: A Freedom Rider Remembers" by Ann Curthoys. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Curnow, Meredith
    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.’
  • Item
    An Obsessional Storyteller. “Xavier Herbert: Letters” by Frances de Groen and Laurie Hergenham. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Kent, Jacqueline
    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'.
  • Item
    Colonial 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) Drayson, Nicholas
    This is a review of two books about early Australian Colonies.
  • Item
    Preaching to the Converted? "How Simone de Beavoir Died in Australia: Stories and Essays" by Sylvia Lawson. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Neilson, Heather
    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.
  • Item
    Deep 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) Page, Geoff
    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.
  • Item
    Modest Everyman. "Nugget Coombs:A Reforming Life" by Tim Rowse. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Fraser, Morag
    In Rowse's view, Nugget Coombs, with his breadth of concerns, his finely tuned ecological, cultural and economic antennae, and his technical competence, is the fit, in fact a better, prophet for any viable new Australian settlement. It is a provocative claim but, if taken up and argued with proper seriousness, then Tim Rowse's account of this extraordinary Australian will have done its proper work. Nugget Coombs- public thinker, public servant, economist, social reformer, Governor of the Reserve Bank, Aboriginal advocate, cultural initiator and great Australian- modesty was the genuine article.
  • Item
    Trafficking in the Unsaid. “The Owner of My Face: New and Selected Poems” by Rodney Hall and “Collected Poems” by Les Murray [Review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Steele, Peter
    Poetry is a likening, even when no metaphor is being deployed, no simile adduced. It knows that it is a miming, and, as often as not, is trying to find out what is being mimed. Murray and Hall are alike in their having copiously stocked memories and vaults of information, which they can be prodigal in displaying. But along with what might be called epic fervours there are lyric austerities — and a readiness to see what understatement can do, even in the midst of abundance. If Murray’s attention is solicited by that solar wind, he knows, too, what it is to be in disdain of all theatrics: if Hall notes the exotic growths, he is also himself a sentinel of cold death. Both of them know that, however precise and abundant the run of language may be, a poet is always trafficking besides in the unsaid, if not the unsayable.
  • Item
    The Tongue of Slander. "The Life of Matthew Flinders" by Miriam Estensen and "The Navigators: The Great Race between Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin for the North–South Passage through Australia" by Klaus Toft. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Dooley, Gillian Mary
    Miriam Estensen’s "Life of Matthew Flinders" is a full-blown biography of Flinders. Klaus Toft’s The Navigators does not aspire to the same level of scholarship.
  • Item
    Inwardness and Outwardness. “My Lover’s Back: 79 Love Poems” by M.T.C Cronin and “Bestiary” by Coral Hull. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Gorton, Lisa
    Cronin’s love poetry, and the love it describes, both define themselves by their distance from what we might loosely call the public world: the world of soaps, films, television and the crowd. Cronin’s poems are small, and deliberately so. This smallness is a part of their achievement: a precise and highly polished inwardness. Coral Hull’s poetry is distinctive for the directness — the sheer conviction — of its engagement with the outside world. Hull is always looking at things most of us prefer not to see. In her best poems, the polemic is in the detail, in her attention to the terrible and precise fact of suffering.
  • Item
    The Singo Tango. “Singo: Mates, Wives, Triumphs, Disasters” by Gerald Stone. [Review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-12) Griffen-Foley, Bridget
    While not without flaws, “Singo” is an engaging and generally well-researched study of a life not yet complete. Bridget Griffen-Foley suspects the advertising guru would be quietly relieved that his biographer is a journalist; Singleton believes that academic researchers’ minds have been ‘dulled, deadened and slowly killed’.
  • Item
    Bakowski's Strategic Dartboard. "Days That We Couldn't Rehearse" by Peter Bakowski
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Lumsden, David
    Peter Bakowski’s Days That We Couldn’t Rehearse is in many ways the most consistent and satisfying of his five collections to date. He has cultivated strengths and eliminated weaknesses found in earlier volumes. Yet it is unmistakably Bakowski; to mimic his much-loved crime fiction imagery, his prints are all over the scene. Bakowski’s strong suit has always been the common object used to striking and, at times, surreal effect. The everydayness of his imagery, the simplicity of his language, the straightforwardness of his thought, is all of a piece with his conception of the poet’s role as speaking to the wider public. If you have admired Peter Bakowski’s other books, you will enjoy this one, too.
  • Item
    Playing the Game. "The Greek Liar" by Nikos Athanasou and "Attempts to Draw Jesus" by Stephen Orr. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Williams, Michael
    NOBEL PRIZEWINNER Albert Camus played soccer for Algeria. First-time novelist Nikos Athanasou has been likened to Camus — for his writing, not his ball skills — but, on the basis of his début, this comparison is hard to sustain. A more convincing parallel between the two authors might lie in the diversity of their skills; Athanasou’s new career as a writer is secondary to his ‘day job’ as Professor of Orthopaedic Pathology at Oxford.
  • Item
    Activist in White Gloves. "Faith: Faith Bandler, Gentle Activist" by Marilyn Lake. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Whitlock, Gillian
    Lake advances continuities between Bandler's lifelong commitment to coalition politics, non-racialism and contemporary campaigns for reconciliation. This is surely the ground of ongoing discussions between biographer and subject, and it embeds reconciliation in a tradition that goes back to the peace campaigns and coalitions of the 1950s and 1960s. As Lake reminds us, it is consoling, in 2002, to be reminded that Australians can lay claim to long-standing traditions of inclusion, acceptance and social justice.
  • Item
    Heads above Water. "Above the Water" by Margaret Bearman and "Borrowed Eyes: A Novel" by Saskia Beudel. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Digby, Jenny
    Jenny Digby reviews two remarkably accomplished works, "Borrowed Eyes" and "Above the Water". Both novels are from experienced authors and are remarkably accomplished works. Although they tell very different stories in contrasting styles, the similarities are striking. Both portray a central female character whose life has been damaged by violence. And both deal with loss and memory, physical and emotional scars, and the long journey to healing.
  • Item
    Elusive Beauties. "Journey to the Stone Country" by Alex Miller. [review]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Pierce, Peter
    Miller offers a love story coloured and almost subsumed by family and ancestral memory, one located in a landscape that, insofar as it has appeared in Australian fiction. Miller accepts the challenge to write of Aboriginal people and taking risks, Miller addresses the contested scene of Aboriginal politics, doing so without condescension or sense of trespass.
  • Item
    National News. [essay]
    (Australian Book Review, 2002-10) Mellor, Doreen
    In November, the National Library will publish Many Voices: Reflections on Experiences of Indigenous Child Separation, which is the culmination of four years of project work in an area of crucial importance in Australia’s history. Arising from the Bringing Them Home Oral History Project, the publication is a distillation of the interviews conducted during the Project. It reflects the diverse perspectives contained in the collection, and leaves readers free to experience events through the participants’ own words and perspectives.
Copyright to all textual material owned by Australian Book Review Inc. Flinders Dspace has made every effort to contact the copyright owners of other material, and will remove items upon request.