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Issue Details: First known date: 2017... July 2017 of Sydney Review of Books est. 2013 Sydney Review of Books
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* Contents derived from the 2017 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
In Short Measures, Simon Patton , single work essay

'In 1971, the poet and critic Alexander Craig declared that Australian poetry was suffering from a fatal virus. He presented his diagnosis in the following damning terms:

'The typical Australian poet writes a good line, then adds three or four lines explaining it: not trusting the reader, he [sic] dilutes any poetic force with a watery, discursive prosiness. This ailment of our poetry seems to be breathed in with our Australian air, a virus permanently attacking our verse all the more viciously because no one knows or admits that it’s there (and that it has been, ever since verse was first written in English on this continent).' (Introduction)

A Fluctuating Charm, Catriona Menzies-Pike , single work essay

'Fret not, lonely hearts, there are plenty more fish in the sea. Are there? This homily is usually rolled out to console the broken-hearted, to persuade them that the tides will soon wash up an acceptable substitute for their lost love. The Plenty of Fish online dating megasite boasts over three million active daily users, which suggests that the line works as a hook for those seeking love, companionship, romance or sex. It’s a figure of speech that might soon become obsolete.' (Introduction)

The Greatest Crime, Ruth Balint , single work essay

'In a recent chapter in a book about empathy, the South African-born historian Stephen Aschheim, who now lives in Israel, remarked that ‘atrocities, perhaps especially our own, are more acceptable when performed in distant places and acted upon ‘uncivilised’ populations… The closer to home that they are perpetrated, the more problematic they become.’ For decades now, Australia’s detention regime has effectively moved the government’s handling of asylum seekers out of sight – beyond the gaze of journalists, activists, lawyers and the public. This has enabled the government to lie about the people detained, using variations of the ‘uncivilised’ trope, without much fear of censure by the people themselves. And in an even more cynical twist, it has allowed successive governments to represent themselves as both muscular and fair, in standing firm with a policy that ‘stopped the boats’. But they haven’t stopped the boats and they haven’t stopped the deaths, they have just moved them out of our watch.' (Introduction)

Lyrebirds in the Impasse, David Carlin , single work essay

'Not too long ago, I spent a week at Varuna Writers’ House in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, working on a book. One of the many treats Varuna offers writers is access to the nearby bushland. Before dinner one night, I took myself off for a long walk down into the forest near the house. The land in the Blue Mountains drops away from a huge plateau into deep dramatic valleys. Hundred-year-old paths with steps and railings descend into the depths. I couldn’t help feeling, as I followed one, that I was entering quite suddenly another realm of being, a quieter, older place or else the inside of a cut-open brain. A few steps beyond the redbrick cottage kiosk, the bitumen of the tourist road, the cricket field, the picnic tables, the new curved metal safety railings that sweep around the corner, I was into a shady netherworld, trickling here or there with water, like me, drawn irresistibly down, wanting to fall but be caught, splinter but reassemble in pools of glass, faraway, where the land bottoms out.' (Introduction)

The Opposite of Glamour, Delia Falconer , single work essay

'Recently, I found myself longing to reread John Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez. I first read it when I was a teenager studying one of his novels at school; anxious for me to succeed, my parents purchased other Steinbeck books in the cheap Pan editions featuring naïve illustrations constrained by circular borders, as if seen through a telescope. The book is the author’s account, a decade after the event, of his travels in 1940 with marine biologist Ed Ricketts, who would become the model for ‘Doc’ in Cannery Row.  Under the pretext of a loosely conceived scientific expedition, the men hire and equip a small purse seiner, a fishing boat, and set out from Monterey, in northern California, for the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California), between the Baja California Peninsula and Mexico.  Over six weeks, they pull creatures from the low coastal waters, to collect specimens for Rickett’s marine biological business, but also for the sheer pleasure of gathering them in their plenitude and seeing how these small animals propel themselves and behave...' (Introduction)

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