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Alternative title: ABR
Issue Details: First known date: 2017... no. 391 May 2017 of Australian Book Review est. 1961 Australian Book Review
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  • Only literary material within AustLit's scope individually indexed. Other material in this issue includes:

    • James McNamara on the Trump presidency
    • Beejay Silcox reviews 'The Idiot' by Elif Batuman
    • Frank Bongiorno reviews 'Fear of Abandonment: Australia in the world since 1942' by Allan Gyngell
    • 'I was the greatest art potter' by Christopher DeWeese
    • Michael Winkler reviews 'Losing Streak: How Tasmania was gamed by the gambling industry' by James Boyce
    • David McCooey reviews 'The Pleasures of Leisure' by Robert Dessaix
    • Paul Kildea reviews 'The Novel of the Century: The extraordinary adventure of Les Misérables' by David Bellos
    • Shannon Burns reviews 'Edge of Irony: Modernism in the shadow of the Habsburg Empire' by Marjorie Perloff
    • Benjamin Madden reviews 'The Poem Is You: 60 contemporary American poems and how to read them' by Stephen Burt
    • Paul Giles reviews 'The Glamour of Strangeness: Artists and the lost age of the exotics' by Jamie James
    • Suzy Freeman-Greene reviews 'Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and me' by Bill Hayes
    • Tim Smartt reviews 'The Dream of Enlightenment: The rise of modern philosophy' by Anthony Gottlieb
    • Gareth Hipwell reviews 'Strict Rules: The iconic story of the tour that shaped Midnight Oil' by Andrew McMillan
    • Jake Wilson reviews 'Steven Spielberg: A life in films' by Molly Haskell
    • Colin Nettelbeck reviews 'The Némirovsky Question: The life, death and legacy of a Jewish writer in 20th century France' by Susan Rubin Suleiman


* Contents derived from the 2017 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
The Irreplaceable : A Tribute to John Clarke (1948–2017), Morag Fraser , single work obituary
'Years ago, when I was editing a magazine, John Clarke would occasionally ring, sometimes to discuss what might have been called business, but, more often, just out of the blue. John would talk and I would listen. And so would the entire office staff – listen. They’d get the cue from our wily receptionist, pick up their extensions and stop work for the duration of the call. If they’d had an enterprise agreement, I would have made sure it included that time out, and immunity from prosecution under privacy laws. Innocent days. Days of joy. Even Gough Whitlam, who would also call occasionally, couldn’t command quite the same degree of blissful communal eavesdropping.' (Introduction)
'A Writing Life : Helen Garner and Her Work' by Bernadette Brennan, Jan McGuinness , single work essay
'Who is the I in Helen Garner’s work? This is the question Bernadette Brennan probes by canvassing more than forty years of Garner’s writing and her seventy-four-year existence. It is the proposition Garner’s fans and critics are most exercised by, although some presume to know the answer by reading her fiction as autobiography and her non-fiction as personal opinion.' (Introduction)
Open Page with Louis Nowra, single work interview
'They Cannot Take The Sky : Stories from Detention' Edited by Michael Green Et Al., Madeline Gleeson , single work essay
'Refugee law and policies are subject to vociferous debate the world over as governments and societies grapple with the challenges of almost unprecedented global displacement. Yet the most relevant voices – those of refugees and asylum seekers themselves – are usually missing from these debates. We speak about refugees, perhaps even for refugees. Rarely are they afforded the opportunity to speak for themselves. Locked away in isolated detention facilities, or on remote Pacific islands, lives and experiences are reduced to a string of pernicious acronyms. People become IMAs (illegal maritime arrivals) and UMAs (unauthorised maritime arrivals). Children separated from their families are UAMs (unaccompanied minors). Adult men travelling alone are SAMs (single adult males), regardless of whether they have wives and children waiting for them elsewhere.' (Introduction)
Zeitgeisti"We admire it because it disdains to destroy us:", Bronwyn Lea , single work poetry
'The Metronome' by Jennifer Maiden, Jill Jones , single work essay
'Jennifer Maiden’s latest book, The Metronome, is essentially part of a series that could be dated to the appearance of Friendly Fire in 2005, if not further back. While it may not be a series in the sense of a life-poem, Maiden’s ongoing production of this sequence of books carries an impression of vocation or serious commitment, rather than simply poems-as-project.' (Introduction)
'Into the Heart of Tasmania : A Search for Human Antiquity' by Rebe Taylor, Philip Jones , single work essay
'The historian Rebe Taylor has a fascination with Australia’s southern islands and their capacity to contain or magnify issues of identity for their indigenous inhabitants, if not for their broader populations. Her first book, Unearthed: The Aboriginal Tasmanians of Kangaroo Island (2012), traced the forgotten story of the Tasmanian Aboriginal women taken there by British and American sealers during the early nineteenth century and the subsequent history of their families. Taylor was able to weave her journey of detection together with the islanders’ own hunches and clues as to their families’ misty origins. She was well aware that behind this remarkable story of retrieval loomed a darker tale of loss, violence, and guilt, centred on the island of Tasmania itself. Into the heart of Tasmania would be her next assignment.' (Introduction)
'The Land Is Our History: Indigeneity, Law, and the Settler State' by Miranda Johnson, Kevin Bell , single work essay
'Australia’s national identity is as complex as the people who make up the nation and the historical forces by which it was made. Our Indigenous peoples, whose unique histories precede the nation’s by more than fifty thousand years, are central to that identity. A century ago, making those statements would have been virtually unthinkable to most, such was the dominance of exclusionary colonial bigotry. For the mind-space to experience national identity more inclusively, we in the modern era owe much to the extra-ordinary activism of those peoples after World War II. From a deeply comparative and historical perspective, this book narrates and celebrates that activism, which has occurred not only in Australia but also in Canada and New Zealand.' (Introduction)
'Storyland' by Catherine McKinnon, Doug Wallen , single work essay
'‘I write best from place,’ Catherine McKinnon told Fairfax newspapers in a recent interview. Her second novel, which concerns centuries of human interaction with the New South Wales coast region between Wollongong and Lake Illawarra, makes this abundantly clear.' (Introduction)
'Jean Harley Was Here' by Heather Taylor Johnson, Anna Spargo-Ryan , single work essay
'There is much to like about a well-executed set of short stories, and this is true of Jean Harley Was Here. While the book presents itself as a novel, it has more in common with Elizabeth Strout’s multi-narrator linked collection Olive Kitteridge (2008). This structural choice gives Heather Taylor Johnson enormous opportunity to explore the many aspects of grief.' (Introduction)
'A Hundred Small Lessons' by Ashley Hay, Tessa Lunney , single work essay
'A Hundred Small Lessons holds powerful truths, simply told. It is a story of parenthood and place, where small domestic moments, rather than dramatic public displays, are the links between people, the present and the past. Each moment occurs in and around a familiar, ordinary Brisbane house, and the book begins when Elsie, the nonagenarian resident, leaves this house for a nursing home, and Lucy and Ben move in with their son Tom.' (Introduction)
'Down the Hume' by Peter Polites, Crusader Hillis , single work essay
'Peter Polites’s first novel is remarkable in its power to evoke growing up caught between conflicting cultural and sexual identities. It tells the story of Bux, a gay man haunted by his addiction to painkillers, his abusive relationship with his drug-dealing bodybuilder boyfriend, his violent alcoholic Greek father, and a childhood where his sexuality and his traditional Greek upbringing mark him forever as an outsider. The novel pulses with the frenetic life of Sydney’s western suburbs, where cultures, peoples, and languages clash. As Bux moves across the city, the stark disparity between Sydney’s multicultural west and monocultural east becomes a central theme.' (Introduction)
'All Fall Down' by Cassandra Austin, Benjamin Chandler , single work essay
'The collapse of a bridge is the catalyst in Cassandra Austin’s All Fall Down, isolating the small town of Mululuk in true Australian gothic fashion. Janice, crossing the bridge to flee her husband Craig and reunite with former lover Shane – or maybe not – manages to survive the fall, waking from a coma weeks later with a head injury people aren’t sure she isn’t faking. Charlie prays over her, not necessarily for her survival, while Father Nott and Gussy prepare to protest the government’s refusal to open the new bridge until Richard, who may or may not be an insurance assessor, is satisfied he knows what caused the first one to fail. Father Nott’s teenage niece Rachel is thrust into the middle of everything. Banished to Mululuk by her father, self-absorbed Rachel is oblivious to the shimmering tensions, lies, and half-truths that cloud Mululuk’s air as densely as the red dirt of the desert surrounding it.' (Introduction)
'See What I Have Done' by Sarah Schmidt, Anna MacDonald , single work essay
'In this gripping first novel, Sarah Schmidt re-imagines the lives of Lizzie Borden, her family, and the brutal double murder of her father and stepmother, for which Lizzie became notorious. Set in and around the Borden’s house at Fall River, Massachusetts, the narrative has a dense, claustrophobic air that feeds the portrayal of this family as menacingly close.' (Introduction)
'Christina Stead : A Web of Friendship, Selected Letters (1928–1973)' Edited by Ron Geering, Graeme Powell , single work essay
'In her novel Jacob’s Room (1922), Virginia Woolf wrote: ‘For centuries the writing-desk has contained sheets fit precisely for the communication of friends. Masters of language have turned from the sheet that endures to the sheet that perishes ... and addressed themselves to the task of reaching, touching, penetrating the individual heart.’ (Introduction)
'A Personal History of Vision' by Luke Fischer, 'Flute of Milk' by Susan Fealy', and 'Dark Convicts: Ex-slaves on the First Fleet' by Judy Johnson, Geoff Page , single work essay
'The UWAP Poetry imprint began in late 2016, and there are already fourteen titles available. To judge from the quality of the three reviewed here, UWAP’s energy and ambition is well-placed.' (Introduction)
'Beyond the Vapour Trail : The Beauty, Horror and Humour of Life: An Aid Worker’s Story' by Brett Pierce, Katy Gerner , single work essay
'Beyond the Vapour Trail, a memoir-cum-travel book spanning six continents, concerns the author’s experiences as an aid worker for non-government organisations such as World Vision. Brett Pierce’s work involves researching and setting up community projects, and adapting and remodelling child sponsorship programs. He describes it as ‘sitting down with these communities to explore the causes of poverty and to pursue their dreams for a better life’. (Introduction)
'And Then I Found Me' by Noel Tovey, Dennis Altman , single work essay
'Looking back on his career, Noel Tovey writes: ‘I could work in three languages. I had dined in the finest restaurants in Europe and America with pop stars and royalty and I had a career in the theatre that most Australians would envy.’ The man who wrote these words grew up an abused and neglected child. When he was seventeen, he served time in Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison for ‘the abominable crime of buggery’, a fact not always mentioned in online references.' (Introduction)
'The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller : An Australian’s True Story of Adventure, Danger, Romance and Murder' by Carol Baxter, Simon Caterson , single work essay
'Among the glittering generation of pioneering aviators and aviatrixes of the 1920s and 1930s, Jessie ‘Chubbie’ Miller stands out as remarkably adventurous. Carol Baxter’s highly readable biography provides an engaging portrait of a young suburban housewife who decided, quite literally, to make her own way in the world. As Baxter acknowledges, for a biographer it is a tremendous story that just keeps on giving. This book does it justice.' (Introduction)
'The Legacies of Bernard Smith : Essays on Australian Art, History and Cultural Politics' Edited by Jaynie Anderson, Christopher R. Marshall, and Andrew Yip, Andrew Fuhrmann , single work essay
'A persistent fascination attaches to those who help break the new wood, and so it is with Bernard Smith (1916–2011). His contribution is foundational to the study of the arts in Australia. Smith was for more than sixty years the country’s leading art historian, but he was also an educator, curator, newspaper critic, collector, memoirist, and biographer. Even as an artist his work has acquired an aura of significance. When I was last at the National Gallery of Australia, one of the large and rather tenebrous canvases he painted in the early 1940s was hanging alongside work by James Gleeson as an example of early Australian surrealism.' (Introduction)

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