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Alternative title: ABR
Issue Details: First known date: 2018... no. 399 March 2018 of Australian Book Review est. 1961 Australian Book Review
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'As our fortieth birthday celebrations get underway, we have much pleasure in naming Beejay Silcox as the recipient of the ABR Fortieth Birthday Fellowship worth $10,000. Beejay, who first wrote for us in 2016, has quickly become a regular in our pages, and elsewhere. Her short story ‘Slut Trouble’ was commended in the 2016 Jolley Prize. She has lived in more than a dozen cities across three continents and recently completed her MFA in the United States.'  (Editorial introduction)


  • Contents indexed selectively.


* Contents derived from the 2018 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
A Single Field of Life : A Revisionist History of Aboriginal Australia, Philip Jones , single work essay

'To the layperson, the shifts and variations in government policy and its effects on Aboriginal lives can be bewildering, even during the past decade. Tim Rowse has done a great service by analysing more than a century of this tangled history, locating its patterns and its driving forces and making sense of it. He has produced a humane and convincing account of the demographic and social recovery of an Aboriginal population as it absorbed and accommodated the effects of intrusive social policies. At one level, Indigenous and Other Australians since 1901 provides a coherent account of the origins, implications, and outcomes of Aboriginal policy formation since Federation, ranging deftly across state and territory jurisdictions, decade by decade.' (Introduction)

(p. 18-19)
Timely Science, Rachael Mead , single work essay

'It is a common misconception that scientists are not writers. As Professor Emma Johnston states in her foreword, writing is a fundamental part of the scientific process and innumerable volumes of scientific journals are published each year. These papers often employ dry, opaque language decipherable only by other scientists, so science journalists wade through these volumes, distilling and translating the latest, most exciting science into language that is accessible and appealing to non-specialist readers. Recent financial cuts to newsrooms have triggered the shedding of subject-specific writers, including science journalists. As a result, the quality and quantity of informed science journalism in Australia has been in decline, despite the dire need for public engagement with scientific ideas and policy. In this context, anthologies such as this are especially significant.' (Introduction)

(p. 23)
New Worlds : A Varied Collection of Australian Essays, Lucas Thompson , single work essay

'It takes only five months for a newt to regrow a lost limb. Skittles and Tic Tacs both made public statements denouncing Donald Trump during the 2016 Presidential race. Psychologists have learned that whenever we believe that a problem – like addiction, domestic abuse, or climate change – is intractable, our brains appear programmed to ignore it. The world’s best freedivers reach depths of 200 metres on a single breath. Australia’s First Peoples are proportionally the most incarcerated on earth. Of Australian surgeons, 91.5 per cent are male. The kea, an alpine parrot from New Zealand, can kill and devour sheep. Australia’s relative average income for people with disabilities is lower than any other OECD nation.'  (Introduction)

(p. 24, 26)
Mirror Images, David McCooey , single work essay

'Poets aren’t generally known for being great collaborators. Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads (1798) is a rare example of a co-authored canonical work of poetry. Renga: 100 poems, by John Kinsella and Paul Kane, has some similarities to Lyrical Ballads. Like those of its Romantic precedent, the poems in Renga are single-authored, the collaboration being project-based rather than an exercise in joint composition. Like Lyrical BalladsRenga reanimates an old form for contemporary times. But unlike Lyrical BalladsRenga is a work of explicit (and equal) dialogue. Each poet takes his turn in poetic conversation, inspired by the Japanese Renga form, a collaborative venture in which poets take turns composing linked stanzas. As Kane describes in his Foreword (Kinsella gets the Afterword), ‘Call and respond was the modality, though John and I took turns in taking the lead.’' (Introduction)

(p. 29)
Compassi"My mother lowered me into the water.", Eileen Chong , single work poetry (p. 31)
The Abstract Blue Backgroundi"A shade greener than Kingfisher (that blue", L. K. Holt , single work poetry (p. 32)
Decoding Paul Klee’s Mit Grünen Strümpfen (With Green Stockings) 1939i"Her green stockinged legs are the conduit", Katherine Healy , single work poetry (p. 33)
'The Lebs' by Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Jay Daniel Thompson , single work essay
— Review of The Lebs Michael Mohammed Ahmad , 2018 single work novel ;

'Bani Adam wants to be a ‘chivalrous poet’ or a great writer. These aspirations make the Lebanese-Australian teenager feel like an outsider at the testosterone-fuelled, anti-intellectual high school that he attends. Until he finishes school, Bani bides his time with a group of mostly Muslim and Lebanese young men. ‘The Lebs’, as they refer to themselves, while away the hours discussing religion and politics, fantasising about or insulting teachers, and forging something like a friendship with one another.'  (Introduction)

(p. 34)
Jaxie's Journey : Expiation in the Desert, Brenda Niall , single work essay

'There are no sheep grazing anywhere near the shepherd’s hut of Tim Winton’s new novel. A few wild goats in the desolate landscape, some broken machinery: that’s all. The narrator, fifteen-year-old Jaxie Clackton, prime suspect for killing his abusive father, is on the run from the police. His scanty food supplies have dwindled almost to nothing and he is desperate for water. He has no gun and his only knife is no use for hunting.'  (Introduction)

(p. 34-35)
'The Tattooist Of Auschwitz' by Heather Morris, Tali Lavi , single work essay
— Review of The Tattooist of Auschwitz Heather Morris , 2018 single work novel ;

'Early on in this book, the fictional Lale Sokolov, based on the real man of that name who survived Auschwitz and its horrors to eventually live in suburban Melbourne, has his arm tattooed. Aghast, he laments, ‘How can someone do this to another human being?’ He wonders if, ‘for the rest of his life, be it short or long, he will be defined by this moment, this irregular number: 32407’. The story that follows explores this first theme by exposing the nadir of human depravity as represented by the Holocaust’s perpetrators, and refutes his second thought. Although given the loathsome function of the tattooist, Lale lives in opposition to the Nazi fantasy that Jews, Gypsies, and others could thus be reduced to their withered husks; his gestures of kindness and sacrifice flow endlessly towards his fellow inmates and his lifelong love, Gita.' (Introduction)

(p. 35)
Reflections, Gillian Dooley , single work essay

''Mrs M’ is the second wife of Lachlan Macquarie, governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821. Luke Slattery explains in his Author’s Note the impulse behind his novel – Elizabeth Macquarie’s voice coming to him, romantically, in a dream. It was not quite unprompted. He had been visiting her home territory in the Hebrides, having already written a short book about the Macquaries’ last years in New South Wales (The First Dismissal [2014]). But this book is different; and it is Slattery’s first novel.'  (Introduction)

(p. 36)
Crusader, Susan Lever , single work essay

'With a regular stream of vulgar tweets from President Trump and a tsunami of sexual harassment charges against prominent men, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the nasty side of masculine privilege in our current world. The narcissistic man who manipulates others to satisfy his sense of power has become a recognised figure in public life. Craig Sherborne’s Off the Record is a satire that relies on reader outrage at such behaviour, but it is hard to avoid a sense that he has been unlucky with the timing of this novel. There are times when the large-scale absurdities of the real world can make a satire look tame. The fictional world Sherborne creates is a kind of petty provincial version of the masculine privilege and bullying behaviour we see in the daily news feed.'  (Introduction)

(p. 37)
'A Crack in Its Earth', James Bradley , single work essay

'Recent years have seen the literary novel begin to mutate, its boundaries and subject matter evolving in new and sometimes surprising directions as it attempts to accommodate the increasing weirdness of the world we inhabit.' (Introduction)

(p. 38)
Alienated from Themselves, Jill Jones , single work essay

'This is a playful, intelligent, unsettling series of stories, fourteen of them, collected from publications going back a few decades from 1987 until 2012 as well as, presumably, unpublished work. Due in part to this long span, the book traces back and forth through time. There is even a Sydney pre-Opera House (just) in one story, and various social and cultural artefacts and processes come and go.' (Introduction)

(p. 39)
Transformations, Paul Genoni , single work essay

'In this collection of more than thirty pieces of fiction, journalism, criticism, academic papers, and ephemera (acceptance speeches, parliamentary questions, university course outlines), Frank Moorhouse gives evidence of, and attempts to explain, the durability of Henry Lawson’s classic short story ‘The Drover’s Wife’ in Australian cultural life. Moorhouse’s interest encompasses not only the persistence of Lawson’s story, but also the many ways in which it has lingered by being constantly reinvented – both reverently and otherwise – to the point where he declares that it has become ‘a phenomenon unique in the Australian artistic imagination’.' (Introduction)

(p. 52)
Talking to One Another, Susan Sheridan , single work essay

'The appearance in 2014 of In Certain Circles, a new novel from Elizabeth Harrower, was an important literary event. The author, who still lives in Sydney, had published nothing since 1966 and had repeatedly maintained that she had nothing more to say. In Certain Circles had been ready for publication in 1971, but Harrower withdrew it. In interviews over the intervening period, she gave a number of reasons for this decision but remained adamant that no one could read the manuscript. Fortunately, Michael Heyward at Text Publishing, who had recently reprinted her four earlier novels, persuaded her otherwise. Text published handsome hardback editions of In Certain Circles and A Few Days in the Country and other stories (2015), a collection of her short stories, more than half of which had appeared for the first time in that same year. With these two new books, and the republication of her small but powerful oeuvre, it is time to ask how we now understand Harrower’s achievement and, as a consequence, how we might reconfigure the picture of mid-century Australian fiction.' (Introduction)

(p. 53)
The Sufferings of So and So : Hackneyed Perennials of Anzac Mythmaking, Martin Crotty , single work essay

'Australia’s role in the war against the Ottoman Empire from 1916 to 1918 is much less widely understood than its contribution to the doomed campaign in the Dardanelles or the muddy slog on the Western Front. It is one aspect of Australia’s World War I that has not been overwritten by historians (loosely termed), and thus offers Jonathan King considerable scope to make a meaningful contribution to Australia’s popular understanding of World War I. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly given how much pulp history the centenary of World War I has generated, the result is farcical.'  (Introduction)

(p. 56-57)
[Review Essay] Sweet Country, Harry Windsor , single work essay

'Sweet Country, the first conventional feature that Warwick Thornton has made since Samson and Delilah (2009), his début, puts the lie to its title. It opens with a shot of boiling tar and only gets angrier from there. The film was christened a western after its première at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2017, though it is set a decade after World War I, far removed from the period we associate with the traditional oater. This doesn’t stop Thornton from invoking the genre and the medium explicitly, with 1906 film The Story of the Kelly Gang at one point projected onto a sheet outside an outback pub. The same pub is presided over by a madam whose bustier looks decades out of fashion, and the film is littered with well-worn lines like ‘I am the law’ – courtesy of an unsmiling Bryan Brown – that would seem to locate it squarely within the genre.'  (Introduction)

(p. 62)
Ze Icy Hend of Dess : Portrait of a Consummate and Short-lived Conductor, Ian Dickson , single work essay (p. 68-69)
Publisher of the Month with Rod Morrison, single work interview (p. 72)

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