No 246 - November 2002
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'Homer and the Holocaust': Andrea Goldsmith, Peter Craven reviews Bernard Smith's A Pavane for Another Time , Raimond Gaita's essay 'Religion and Justice', Geoffrey Bolton reviews a biography of Joh Bjelke-Petersen
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ItemGirl Power Besting the Net. "Girl Heroes: The New Force in Popular Culture" by Susan Hopkins. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-11)"Girl Heroes" is a book that meditates deeply on the question of the image and objectification, and on what's at stake in the Nietzschean ideal of aesthetic subjectivity, a realm in which the divisions between illusion and reality, art and life, dissolve. Indeed, one of the things that makes this book so pleasurable to read is that the author has such a confident grasp of the ethical and broader philosophical terrain in which she's working that she's able to make it sound simple.
ItemWhat's So Special? "The Federation Mirror" by Ross Fitzgerald and "Johannes Bjelke-Peterson: The Lord’s Premier" by Rae Wear. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-11)Wear's book should be the starting point for readers wanting a balanced overview of Bjelke-Peterson's career. Derek Townsend published his book little more than halfway through his premiership; Alan Metcalfe was obsequiously partisan; Hugh Lunn did bring the insights of a shrewd professional journalist to his account, but Wear also has the advantage of drawing on several studies by respected political scientists, as well as Cameron Hazlehurst's biography of Sir Gordon Chalk, and Paul Reynolds's of Mike Ahern. Ross Fitzgerald, an academic who was one of Bjelke-Peterson's more outspoken critics, may come some way towards identifying what's so special about Queensland in "The Federation Mirror". Having presided over Queensland's Centenary of Federation committee, Fitzgerald undertook the task of summarising the year's activities. Such chronicles are often predictable and boring. Fitzgerald had the bright idea of looking at the public activities of eight representative Queensland communities in the Federation year of 1901 and comparing them with the celebrations of 2001. His findings offer some interesting insights into Queensland's political culture.
ItemPalace Inventory (Partial): Sleeping Beauty. [poem](Australian Book Review, 2002-11)
ItemEschewing Jouissance. "Gender Trouble Down Under: Australian Masculinities" by David Coad and "From Camp to Queer: Remaking the Australian Homosexual" by Robert Reynolds. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-11)Although called "From Camp to Queer", this book is really about the early years of the gay liberation movement in Australia - from 1970 to 1974. In that sense, "From Camp to Gay" would have been more accurate; the Epilogue on the rise of queer in the 1990s is pretty much an afterword. The early 1970s was an extraordinary period when gay people set out to challenge the criminalisation, vilification and self-loathing that they had inherited - to remake themselves and the world. It is a story that has been told several times now, even in relation to Australia. David Coad's "Gender Trouble Down Under" is also concerned with Australia's very queer history, but his is a broader canvas. He offers a survey of Australian masculinities since 1788, generally chronological, but, given its cultural studies approach, this neat narrative is constantly being disrupted. So the chapter that begins with the convicts lurches into anti-gay violence in the late twentieth century and youth suicide. Ned Kelly and his cross-dressing sidekick Steve Hart jostle up against Chopper Read. Bushwomen and their masculinity find themselves juggled with Dame Nellie Melba and Dykes on Bikes. It is all rather unsettling. It is, of course, meant to be.
ItemA Matter of Gravitas. "Don Bradman: Challenging the Myth" by Brett Hutchins and "Warne's World" by Louis Nowra. [review](Australian Book Review, 2002-11)"Don Bradman" and "Warne's World" are two very different books, and in many ways they sit uneasily together - for a reviewer at least. But they reveal among other things why Warne, with Bradman-like gifts, does not occupy a Bradman-like place in Australian culture: he is too unashamedly a child of his age, and that age, so the narrative goes, is crass and corrupt and commercial in contrast to the great days of the Don, the golden age of cricket integrity.
ItemThe Cabinet of Wins and A Racing Life. [poems](Australian Book Review, 2002-11)