Sydney Review of Books
I Am Doubt Itself: Criticism, Narrative, Ethics
May 22nd, 2017, 08:31 PM

I thought I was myself and this girl a creature from another order speaking words you made up for her. But now I am full of doubt. I am doubt itself. Who is speaking me? Am I a phantom too?  To what order do I belong?  And you: who are you? Susan Barton tenders this […]

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The Ethics of Evaluation
May 22nd, 2017, 08:31 PM

'is this book worth reading? A book review—while it can be many things—is not really a review unless it offers some form of explicit or implicit evaluation in a way that meaningfully answers this question.'

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The Marketing Was Crap
May 18th, 2017, 08:31 PM

I want to talk about publishing and writing in Australia today. We have an old publishing industry that clings tightly to some of its early twentieth-century etiquette while dealing with a world in flux. Many of our evergreen habits are likely to be gone soon. We’ve spent years now debating the future of the book […]

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The Dancer From the Dance
May 16th, 2017, 08:31 PM

Early in November 2015, Sydney novelist Georgia Blain had a seizure and was taken to hospital for tests. The results were as bad as they could be: glioblastoma, an aggressive and incurable brain tumour. Six days later she had surgery to remove the tumour –  ‘the unwelcome guest’, her surgeon called it – but was […]

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Cloud Cuckoo Land Pastoral
May 15th, 2017, 08:31 PM

The shortlist for the 2010 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction included works by two world-famous writers, winners of an impressive array of local and international literary prizes. Yet neither Summertime, the third instalment of J.M. Coetzee’s fictionalised autobiography, nor Ransom, David Malouf’s radiant retelling of an episode from the Trojan War, won the award. […]

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Never In Print
May 11th, 2017, 08:31 PM

From time to time I’m asked whether the Sydney Review of Books has any plans to move into print. The answer is always an emphatic no and the rationale is usually practical. To print the Sydney Review of Books as a monthly or bimonthly journal would blow a gigantic hole in our budget. We’d have […]

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Canberra, Schooled
May 9th, 2017, 08:31 PM

The ‘Canberra School of Poetry’, a somewhat erroneous term, goes back to the early 1980s when Les Murray wrote a favourable review in the National Times of several collections by poets who happened to be living in Canberra at the time. The so-called ‘Poetry Wars’ were  then still underway and it seemed convenient to Murray […]

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Perhaps this one will be my last sharehouse
May 8th, 2017, 08:31 PM

On a disgustingly hot day in February, one of those days that the air is so hot that you feel it dry your eyeballs, I helped Alex move house. He and his housemates had been issued with an eviction notice a few weeks earlier; and it came less than a day after they’d asked their […]

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Grenville on the Frontier
May 3rd, 2017, 08:31 PM

The Secret River is best read in terms other than those Grenville has framed for it. The historical novel in the realist mode will never escape the sort of criticism pointed at Grenville: departing from the historical record and projecting the present onto the past. The needs of plot, drama, character and so on demand such departures; for if the historian is tied to the archive, the novelist is bound by the audience. The novelist’s distortions of the historical are necessary not just for artistic purposes, however, as fidelity to the historical record was never the exclusive goal in the first place. Rather than read The Secret River as ‘true history’ by cordoning off its departures from the historical record, we might instead think of it as a critical appropriation of frontier mythology.

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Balancing the Books
May 2nd, 2017, 08:31 PM

On the cover of the latest edition of Meanjin, the mournful head of Frank Moorhouse gazes back at readers. It is a sad and sorry business, his expression seems to say. A grand old man of Australian letters is broke. ‘Is writing a way of life?,’ Moorhouse enquires. I don’t think I’m spoiling it by […]

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