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'Late in 1998, the Times Literary Supplement, as was its wont, sent Randolph 'Mick' Stow a book for review. It was Xavier Herbert: A Biography (1998) by Francis de Groen, and Stow accepted the commission with enthusiasm. 'What a ghastly, embarrassing old pillock,' he wrote to his lifelong friend Bill Grono. 'Well, you'll soon read my opinion of him.' Stow's review tells a personal story of an encounter with Herbert at a 1963 supper party in Perth, and concludes that he liked Herbert even less by the end of the book than he did when he began it.' (13)
'From time to time, Australian literature has been fortunate enough to attract the enthusiasm of international critics, from C. Hartley Grattan in the 1920s to Paul Giles, who compared Australian and American literature in his scholarly Antipodean America (2013). Nicholas Birns, a New York academic, tells us that he first encountered Australian writing back in the 1980s and has been a member of the American Association of Australasian Literary Studies since then, including a long period as editor of its journal, Antipodes. In 2014 he spent six months in Australia, reading widely and talking to writers and critics. His resulting study of contemporary Australian literature is more the record of a personal encounter with Australian writing than a scholarly reference book.' (34)