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Peter Craven Peter Craven i(A8523 works by)
Born: Established: ca. 1951 ;
Gender: Male
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Works By

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1 The Great Might Have Been Peter Craven , 2020 single work essay
— Appears in: Meanjin , Spring vol. 79 no. 3 2020;
1 Steven Conte, The Tolstoy Estate Peter Craven , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 5-11 September 2020;

— Review of The Tolstoy Estate Steven Conte , 2020 single work novel

'Steven Conte won the inaugural Prime Minister’s Literary Award for his first novel, The Zookeeper’s War, so it’s not hard to imagine that this new book, The Tolstoy Estate, has been much awaited in the 12 years since. The proof copy came with an absurd cover-sized puff about this being “a novel for people who still believe in the saving grace of literature in dark times”, which is enough to put anyone off. But The Tolstoy Estate is in fact a fine novel – grave, moving and engaging – and it will absorb every kind of reader with its weirdly humane war story in which the military characters are German medics. The span of the action – which encompasses a strange dislocated love story yet is also a meditation on literature and Tolstoy in particular – is beautifully handled, with an absolute sureness of step even though its structure seems fractured and not intrinsically probable or, on the face of it, viably shapely.' (Introduction)

1 Losing the Plot, or Taming It? Peter Craven , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 1 August 2020; (p. 16)

— Review of The Sandpit Nicholas Shakespeare , 2020 single work novel

'Nicholas Shakespeare has done everything and known everybody in his time. As a boy in Argentina, he read to Jorge Luis Borges­; as a literary editor in London in his early 20s, he published­ reviews by Dirk Bogarde; as a biographer, he wrote a reliable account of that starry bewilderment of a man Bruce Chatwin; as a novelist, his The Dancer Upstairs was turned into a film directed by John Malkovich.' (Introduction)

1 Threading the Eye of a Needle Peter Craven , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 6 June 2020; (p. 16)

— Review of Richard Cooke on Robyn Davidson Richard Cooke , 2020 single work essay
1 Patrick Mullins, The Trials of Portnoy Peter Craven , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 20-26 June 2020;

— Review of The Trials of Portnoy : How Penguin Brought down Australia's Censorship System Patrick Mullins , 2020 single work criticism

'It’s instructive to remember what a relatively illiberal society Australia was only a few decades ago and this account of the obscenity court cases about Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint in the early 1970s – written by a young author who wrote a much-praised biography of Billy McMahon – is a good reminder of this. When Gough Whitlam came in, everything changed so that Australians saw a fuller version, say, of Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris than the British, but the period was a crossroads.' (Introduction)

1 Ronnie Scott, The Adversary Peter Craven , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 2-8 May 2020;

— Review of The Adversary Ronnie Scott , 2020 single work novel

'This is a rather extraordinary first novel. It is written in a style that ravishes the reader because it is constantly inventive and nervily inflected with a maximum suggestiveness. Ronnie Scott is superb at capturing the intimations and innuendos that any human heart – perhaps especially a not fully formed, post-adolescent one – is capable of. He is as good at evoking a world of young men who are a bit in love with, certainly not uninterested in, each other. But The Adversary is too talented a piece of debut fiction to be received with hands-off courtesy. The besetting problem of this putative novel that everyone should have a look at – to cotton on to a writer who has a wizardly quicksilver command of language – is that not enough happens in the book, and the author’s apparent belief that it does comes to seem like naivety.' (Introduction)

1 Sean O’Beirne : A Couple of Things Before the End Peter Craven , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 7-13 March 2020;

— Review of A Couple of Things Before the End : Stories Sean O'Bierne , 2020 selected work short story

'Every so often we’re reminded with a jolt that Australian realism doesn’t – to use Patrick White’s phrase – have to be dun-coloured. In fact it can be kinky, it can be ludic, it can be in the tradition of that shaggiest of shaggy-dog stories, Furphy’s Such Is Life, which begins with that immortal and immemorially appealing Australian sentiment, “Unemployed at last!”' (Introduction)

1 A Star Is Justly Reborn Peter Craven , 2020 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 4 January 2020; (p. 14)

— Review of Judith Anderson : Australian Star, First Lady of the American Stage Desley Deacon , 2019 single work biography

'For a long time there Dame Judith Anderson was the most famous Australian actress in the world. She wasn’t a huge film star like Errol Flynn (with whom she shared a quite discernible Australian accent) but in my childhood she was prominently featured in the supporting cast of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, she was Big Mama to Burl Ives’s Big Daddy in the Elizabeth Taylor/Paul Newman Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and to cap everything off she gave what actor Peter Eyre described as one of the most vivid performances in the history of the world: the sinister housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, in Hitchcock’s 1940 tribute to post-Bronte-style Gothic romance, Rebecca. She was a ­famous Lady Macbeth and an implacable Lavinia in Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra, and she gave the most ­celebrated 20th-century performance in a Greek tragedy when she stormed the New York stage (and a lot of others around the world) as ­Euripides’ Medea. Not even Laurence Olivier’s ­Oedipus Rex ranks so high.' (Introduction)

1 Publisher and Writer Hilary McPhee Peter Craven , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 30 November - 6 December 2019;
'Once a powerhouse of Australian publishing, Hilary McPhee traded the comfortable life she knew for a mysterious job with Middle Eastern royalty. In writing about this adventure and the collapse of her marriage to Don Watson in her new memoir, Other People’s Houses, she traces her strange journey back to herself. “I dreaded coming back to Australia because I left feeling I’d lost everything, I’d lost my marriage. We’d been together for more than 20 years, so it was quite a lot of life.”' (Article summary)
1 Helen Garner : Yellow Notebook Peter Craven , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 2-8 November 2019;

— Review of Yellow Notebook : Diaries Volume I, 1978-1986 Helen Garner , 2019 single work diary

'The myth of Helen Garner’s diaries is immense. When she published Monkey Grip 40-odd years ago, with its riveting depiction of emotional and drug squalors in inner-urban Melbourne, she evoked a world that had never been written about before. But the novel’s heartbreaks and contentments, with its central portrait of Javo the junkie, were accused of being just diaries rehashed as fiction. The alternative view of the Garner diaries is that they constitute her major life’s work: that when they saw the light of day – presumably, people thought, after her death – they would be acknowledged as one of the great journals of lived experience, up there with Pepys and Gide.' (Introduction)

1 As the Academy Falls Silent, Who Will Guard Our Stories Peter Craven , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 19 October 2019; (p. 24)
1 Inelegant Dissent and Whispers of Wisdom Peter Craven , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 9 March 2019; (p. 21)

— Review of Green Shadows and Other Poems Gerald Murnane , 2019 selected work poetry

'What an odd thing it is that Gerald Murnane, the great Australian minimalist who modulates the monotonies of his flawless sentences the way Rothko modulates his shades of colour, the 80-year-old Australian writer touted as an outsider (but less so now) for the Nobel Prize in Literature, should produce such a strange yet revealing book of poems.'  (Introduction)

1 Best Bard None Peter Craven , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 10 August 2019; (p. 26)

— Review of The Gang of One : Selected Poems of Robert Harris Robert Harris , 2019 selected work poetry

'Australians are good at poetry, the way that we’re good at comedy. Does this mean that we’re good at the mug’s game of pursuing an art in which there is no money, only the fame that waits on a cultivated obscurity? Does it mean that we’re good at shaping words into more or less memorable patterns of sound in the way we’re good at comically highlighting our own ridiculousness?' (Introduction)

1 Malthouse Theatre’s Cloudstreet Peter Craven , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 18-24 May 2019;

'Although the Malthouse Theatre’s production of Cloudstreet is flawed, its failings cannot overshadow the fundamental power of Tim Winton’s novel.'

1 [Theatre] Muriel’s Wedding : The Musical Peter Craven , 2019 single work review
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 6-12 April 2019;

— Review of Muriel's Wedding : The Musical P. J. Hogan , 2017 single work musical theatre

'With the transformation of Muriel’s Wedding for the stage, some of the film’s winsome ugly-duckling charm has been lost, and along with it the story’s emotional reality.'  (Article summary)

1 Astroman and Krapp’s Last Tape Peter Craven , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: The Saturday Paper , 10-16 November 2018;

'MTC’s childish ’80s romp Astroman – unsuccessfully transplanted from New Zealand to Geelong – is unlikely to appeal even to schoolkids, but more adult audiences will revel in Max Gillies’ masterful turn in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape. By Peter Craven.'  (Introduction)

1 Tabernacles of Good Taste Reviled Peter Craven , 2018 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 3 February 2018; (p. 22)

— Review of Off the Record Craig Sherborne , 2018 single work novel

'Craig Sherborne has been weaving fictions and wheedling words about the emotional atrocities of everyday life for a while now. His two memoirs, Muck and Hoi Polloi, are among the most amazing of their kind in Australian literature, even if the portrait of the author’s mother comes across as an act of literary matricide.' (Introduction)

1 Classic Clarke Has Last Laugh Peter Craven , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 30 December 2017; (p. 18)

— Review of A Pleasure to Be Here : The Best of Clarke and Dawe 1989–2017 2017 selected work interview ; Tinkering : The Complete Book of John Clarke John Clarke , 2017 selected work poetry prose essay ; The Tournament John Clarke , 2002 single work novel

'What an extraordinary fellow John Clarke was: a comedian who savoured poetry, a political satirist who didn’t do impersonations, a comic genius who was genial. When Clarke died in April, aged 68, while tracking down his beloved birds in the bush, it was apparent he was special to a great swag of people. He was special to people because he was special in himself.' (Introduction)

1 Tales to Tell and Doctrines to Defend Peter Craven , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 2 December 2017 2017; (p. 21)

— Review of Incorrigible Optimist : A Political Memoir Gareth John Evans , 2017 single work autobiography

'Gareth Evans is one of the most formidable figures in external affairs since HR Evatt. The former foreign minister’s memoir, Incorrigible Optimist, is a vividly articulated account of life in and after politics, passionately argued and richly anecdotal at the same time.' (Introduction)

1 Strewth! The Sleuth’s Down Under Peter Craven , 2017 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 25 November 2017; (p. 21)

— Review of Sherlock Holmes : The Australian Casebook 2017 anthology short story

'There is every reason to think Arthur Conan Doyle’s work will last forever. If it is the destiny of the popular writer to speak to the spirit of his age (by telling it diverting yarns that never were on land nor sea), then the stories of supersleuth Sherlock Holmes and his companion and chronicler Dr Watson will continue to mesmerise the mind.' (Introduction)

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