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y separately published work icon Australian Book Review periodical issue  
Alternative title: ABR
Issue Details: First known date: 2017... no. 396 November 2017 of Australian Book Review est. 1961 Australian Book Review
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Readers of ABR - and our contributors in particular - appreciate how much cultural philanthropy has transformed this magazine in recent years. Generous donatins from well over tow hundred ABR Patrons have enabled us to diversify our programs, broaden our content, and pay writers much better than were able to do in the past.' (Editorial)


  • Only literary material within AustLit's scope individually indexed. Other material in this issue includes:

    Morag Fraser reviews 'Martin Luther: Rebel in an age of upheaval' by Heinz Schilling, translated by Rona Johnston

    Johanna Leggatt reviews 'Whiteley on Trial' by Gabriella Coslovich

    Suzy Freeman-Greene reviews 'Bitch Doctrine: Essays for dissenting adults' by Laurie Penny

    Brian McFarlane reviews 'Balancing Acts: Behind the scenes at the National Theatre' by Nicholas Hytner

    Kirk Graham reviews 'Everybody Lies: What the Internet can tell us about who we really are' by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

    Stephen Mills reviews 'Making Modern Australia: The Whitlam government’s 21st century agenda' edited by Jenny Hocking

    Mark Chou reviews 'The Retreat of Western Liberalism' by Edward Luce and 'The Fate of the West: The battle to save the world’s most successful political idea' by Bill Emmott

    Klaus Neumann reviews 'Asylum By Boat: Origins of Australia’s refugee policy' by Claire Higgins

    Carol Middleton reviews 'The Rules Do Not Apply: A memoir' by Ariel Levy

    Louis Klee reviews 'Blind Spot' by Teju Cole

    Robert S. White reviews 'How Shakespeare Put Politics on the Stage: Power and succession in the history plays' by Peter Lake

    Michael Shmith reviews 'Ernest Newman: A critical biography' by Paul Watt

    Andrew Montana reviews 'The Poisoned Chalice: Peter Hall and the Sydney Opera House' by Anne Watson

    Miriam Cosic reviews 'The Unwomanly Face of War' by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

    John Eldridge reviews 'Watching Out: Reflections on justice and injustice' by Julian Burnside

    Claudia Hyles reviews 'Koh-I-Noor: The history of the world’s most infamous diamond' by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand


* Contents derived from the 2017 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Testimonials : From 'Solo Flyer' to High Politics, James Walter , single work single work single work essay
— Review of Incorrigible Optimist : A Political Memoir Gareth John Evans , 2017 single work autobiography ;

'Gareth Evans is one of the more interesting figures from the Hawke–Keating governments, not alone as a high achiever in a talented team, nor in the tenacity that saw him remain so long in the inner circle, but unusual in forging a cosmopolitan career of such substance thereafter. His political memoir demonstrates the continuity of his principal concerns – identified in the thematic chapter headings of his book – from his earliest exposure to student politics through his success as foreign minister (1988–96) to stewardship of the International Crisis Group (and many other international panels and commissions besides). It is a story spiced with both the idealism and megalomania that he concludes drive productive political engagement.' (Introduction)

(p. 13-14)
Inventing Faust : Alex Miller's Autobiographical New Novel, Geordie Williamson , single work single work essay
— Review of The Passage of Love Alex Miller , 2017 single work novel ;

'Every author has some version of origin story: a narrative describing what it was that first compelled him or her to write, or at least what attracted them to the role. You can hear the tale harden into myth as an emerging author shapes themselves to those obligatory rubrics of self-disclosure required by writers’ festivals. Sometimes the transition from would-be novelist or short story writer is so smooth as to be seamless, an osmotic passage from student of literature to practitioner. These are more likely to be authors already inculcated with the requisite cultural confidence and tutored intelligence of their caste. The children of the creative classes are those who are born to write, as others are born to rule.' (Introduction)

(p. 23-24)
Ghost Flocki"While women scanned the horizon, fishers", Annamaria Weldon , single work poetry (p. 24)
Trick Mirror : Peter Carey's Iconoclastic New Novel, Paul Giles , single work essay
— Review of A Long Way from Home Peter Carey , 2017 single work novel ;

'On learning that the premise of Peter Carey’s new novel involved a test of automobile reliability on a round trip across Australia, my first response was to dismiss it as a thin conceit for encompassing the country’s remoter landscape within a work of the imagination. The internet, however, quickly delivered old Pathé newsreels revealing not only that this Redex Trial was a demonstrable historical event, but also that no less than 50,000 people showed up at Sydney Showground to see the cars off on their cross-country journey. Truth, indeed, can sometimes seem stranger than fiction. Didn’t they have anything better to do, even in 1954?' (Introduction)

(p. 26-27)
Face-off, James Ley , single work essay
— Review of First Person Richard Flanagan , 2017 single work novel ;

'The literature of the modern era contains any number of stories about doppelgängers, divided selves, alter egos, obsessive relationships, and corrosive forms of mutual dependence. The enduring appeal of these doubling motifs is that they give a dramatic structure to abstract moral and psychological conflicts, but they can also be used to suggest that there is something unresolvable or false about our identities. The awareness that the selves we present to others are a kind of projection or performance introduces an element of uncertainty into our social interactions. It opens up the possibilities of self-invention and manipulation and deceit; it raises the question of whether or not we can ever truly claim to know another human being. As an unreliable character points out near the end of Richard Flanagan’s First Person, the word ‘person’ is derived from the Latin persona, meaning a mask.' (Introduction)

(p. 27-29)
'Rubik' by Elizabeth Tan, Cassandra Atherton , single work review
— Review of Rubik Elizabeth Tan , 2017 single work novel ;

'Invoking the Rubik’s Cube – a puzzle where twenty-six ‘cubelets’ rotate around a core crosspiece – Rubik is less a novel and more a book of interconnected short stories exploring narcissism, neoliberalism, and consumerism. At the book’s core is Elena Rubik, who dies in the first chapter with a Homestyle Country Pie in her hand. Despite her demise, Elena remains the protagonist of the novel via her robust digital footprint: people write ‘condolence messages on her profile ... express[ing] their grief in 420 characters or less’, weekly newsletters amass in her inbox, she endures as a contact in her friend’s mobile phone directory, and her comments remain on internet forums. Elizabeth Tan responds to the cube’s solution of returning all sides to a uniformity of colour by emphasising the isolation, despair, and quotidian nihilism at the heart of contemporary society’s obsession with competitive self-interest and extreme individualism.' (Introduction)

(p. 29)
Sobs and Whispers, Anna MacDonald , single work essay
— Review of The Book of Dirt Bram Presser , 2017 single work novel ;

'Within the last decade, a new wave of writers has emerged whose work is indebted to W.G. Sebald. Sebald’s name, become an adjective (‘Sebaldian’), is often used as shorthand for describing a writer’s approach to history and memory, or his or her use of images alongside word-text, or the presence of a peripatetic narrator, or the rejection of conventional generic categories such as ‘fiction’ and ‘non-fiction’. Edmund de Waal, Valeria Luiselli, Teju Cole, Jáchym Topol, Erwin Mortier, and Katherine Brabon, to name a few, have all been critically associated with the German author.'(Introduction)

(p. 30)
Butterfly Nuts, Brian Matthews , single work review
— Review of A Sea-Chase Roger McDonald , 2017 single work novel ;

'As Ratty observed to Mole, ‘There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.’ In Roger McDonald’s A Sea-Chase, lovers Wes Bannister and Judy Compton would certainly agree, but before they achieve Ratty’s state of nautical transcendence much that does matter has to be dealt with.' (Introduction)

(p. 31)
Imprints of Wateri"The blue painted wall and the blue painted pipe", Joan Fleming , single work poetry (p. 35)
2017 Arts Highlights of the Year, Various , single work review

'To celebrate the year’s memorable plays, films, concerts, operas, ballets, and exhibitions, we invited twenty-six critics and arts professionals to nominate some personal favourites.' (Introduction)

(p. 39-43)
Holden Hoff, Christopher Menz , single work review
— Review of Rayner Hoff : The Life of a Sculptor Deborah Beck , 2017 single work biography ;

'Rayner Hoff, the most significant sculptor to work in Australia between the wars, is most admired for his sculptures in the Anzac war memorials in Sydney and Adelaide. His work was in the classical figurative tradition in which he had trained. While never part of the international avant-garde, he remained modern for his era and adapted to the idiom of art deco. Hoff’s work is known to all Australians through a logo depicting a lion with its paw on a ball, which he designed for Holden in Adelaide in 1927. While his name may be unfamiliar to many people, the Holden lion mascot, instantly recognisable even in its modified form, is still in use today. Now ninety, the Holden insignia is one of the great examples of Australian logo branding; at a time when so many cars are indistinguishable, the mascot is still the easiest way to identify a Holden.' (Introduction)

(p. 46)
'If This Is a Jew', Elisabeth Holdsworth , single work essay

'For most of my life I have thought of myself as a secular Jew; fascinated by the turbulent history of the Jews, not part of synagogue life. All that changed in 2012. We were living in Goulburn, New South Wales, at the time. My husband was on the point of retirement and we were about to move back to Victoria. During winter, influenza and then pneumonia raged through the town; some people died. Despite being vaccinated, I too succumbed. One morning, I was convinced that someone had placed a ton of concrete on my chest. Something had. My next memory is of waking during the night in hospital in an isolation room, hooked up to tubes and monitors. A man was sleeping in an armchair next to the bed. I recognised him as the doctor who had admitted me, hours, days, years ago. I learnt later that he had been there most of that night pumping antibiotics into me.' (Introduction)

(p. 49-57)
Verbal Play, Susan Sheridan , single work review
— Review of Thea Astley : Selected Poems Thea Astley , 2017 selected work poetry ;

'Thea Astley had a way with words. Her novels are studded with arresting metaphors, atrocious puns, hilarious one-liners, arcane words, technical terms from music, geometry and logic, religious and literary allusions. Her verbal pyrotechnics can be dazzling and infuriating, in equal measure: as Helen Garner once wrote, it is a style that can drive you crazy. So it’s no surprise to learn that Astley served her writerly apprenticeship in poetry, in the arts of verbal play and condensation of meaning.' (Introduction)

(p. 59)
[Review Essay] : American Song, Fiona Gruber , single work essay

'Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman’s humanistic, wheeling manifesto of the American destiny underpins Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith’s one-man play, American Song, and the collection of poems form the credo and frame the questioning of its central character, Andy. The poems’ exploration of a world of natural beauty, sensual delight, and the limitless possibilities of a young country imbue his optimistic take on life. With Whitmanesque wonder, Andy shares his tale of early good fortune in winning the trifecta of a gorgeous girl, an adorable baby son, and, after adventures in New York and a period as a caring house-husband looking after infant Robbie, a great job in their home town.' (Introduction)

(p. 67)
Ghosts (Belvoir St Theatre), Ian Dickson , single work essay

'When this production of Henrik Ibsen’s most controversial play was programmed, no one could have guessed how pertinent it would appear in Australia at this moment. On the surface, this account of a bourgeois woman whose attempt to escape from a loveless marriage and a philandering husband is foiled by the Pastor she loved and the conventions of the times, who has to live a lie and finally deal with a beloved son who has inherited syphilis from his father, is of another era. After all, there is now at last understanding and help for those leaving an abusive marriage, and her son’s disease would easily be cured. But Ghosts is about more than these afflictions. The protagonist, Mrs Alving’s, speech to her nemesis, the hidebound, reactionary Pastor Manders, quoted above, is the core of the play. As Robert Brustein writes, Ibsen’s ‘underlying purpose was to demonstrate how a series of withered conventions, unthinkingly perpetuated, could result in the annihilation not only of a conventional family but, by extension, the whole modern world’.' (Introduction)

(p. 68)
Open Page with Roger McDonald, single work interview (p. 72)

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