Australian politics, society & culture

October 2014
Tammy Wynette (2014) by Linda Marrinon
Critics give their picks for the year’s top ten
By The Monthly
Current Issue
Contesting Paul Kelly’s ‘Triumph and Demise’
By Robert Manne
Paul Kelly and Kevin Rudd laughing together at the launch of The March of Patriots in 2009
Paul Kelly’s The End of Certainty, published in 1992, is probably the most influential book of contemporary Australian political history written in the past 50 years.
Current Issue
How the Abbott government is funding a high-culture war
By Steve Dow
The Sydney Opera House lit up during the Vivid Sydney festival, May 2014
On a stormy Monday morning in August, the Australia Council released its strategic plan for 2015–19 at the Sydney Opera House.
Does medical screening do more harm than good?
Karen Hitchcock
I’ve had a mammogram request slip folded into the side pocket of my purse for two years. My GP gave it to me when I turned 40, telling me the time had come to start being screened. I put it in my purse and mostly forgot about it, feeling a slight tug of anxiety whenever it emerged in a wad of receipts. I’ll get to it soon, I’d think. Plan made.
A journey through time and mind in Hugh Sullivan’s ‘The Infinite Man’
Luke Davies
“You want blood and guts?” says Dean (Josh McConville), an intense, over-thinking brainiac who seems to be in the process of losing his girlfriend, Lana (Hannah Marshall), to her ex-boyfriend, Terry (Alex Dimitriades). “I’ll give you blood and guts!”
The federal Senate's inquiry into Campbell Newman's Liberal National Party government in Queensland confirms three things: the extent of Clive Palmer's power in the current Senate makeup; his capacity to use it to his advantage; and...
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Hong Kong erupts even as China tightens screws on civil society "Chinese leaders unnerved by protests elsewhere this year have been steadily tightening controls over civic organisations on the mainland suspected of carrying...

Protests in Hong Kong have roots in China's 'two systems' "The grass-roots political movements responsible for the protests underway in the heart of the city’s financial district would never have taken root in any other Chinese city."

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Current Issue
The chimes they are a-changing at the Sydney Opera House
By Darryn King
One piece of music has been heard at the Sydney Opera House more than any other. It is played sometimes dozens of times a day and more than 1000 times a year. The entire composition consists of two alternating notes, A and F sharp, in a plodding loop on a fake xylophone.
Current Issue
Remembering a man of letters, and a friend
By Murray Bail
“Dying is so banal,” Pierre Ryckmans said from his bed in Sydney a few weeks before he died.
September 2014
In the rush online, newspapers have deleted yesterday, today and tomorrow
By Robyn Annear
Every morning, before daybreak, a clapped-out Holden labours up the street and an unseen hand lobs a missile at my front gate. Sometimes the thud breaks my sleep: wake up, it’s the news.
October 2014
Truth, fiction and psychotherapy
By JM Coetzee & Arabella Kurtz
JMC “The stories we tell about ourselves may not be true, but they are all we have.” I am interested in our relations with these stories we tell about ourselves, stories that may or may not be true. Let me select three cases.
Current Issue
A trip through the Torres Strait to see the Coming of the Light festival
By Thornton McCamish
Just before dusk on 1 July 1871, the Reverends Samuel McFarlane and Archibald Murray of the London Missionary Society, together with eight New Caledonian mission teachers, arrived off the coast of Erub, or Darnley Island, in the far eastern Torres Strait.
September 2014
What drives Edward Snowden, the world’s most wanted whistleblower?
By Robert Manne
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” proclaims the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, adopted in 1792, “shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon...
Current Issue
At home with Rosie Batty
By Helen Garner
One hot afternoon in February 2014, in the pleasant Victorian township of Tyabb, south-east of Melbourne, an 11-year-old boy called Luke Batty was playing in the nets after cricket practice with his father, Greg Anderson. Without warning, Anderson swung the bat and dealt the...
September 2014
In Port Augusta, an Israeli linguist is helping the Barngarla people reclaim their language
By Anna Goldsworthy
In a bluestone former school building in Port Augusta, now a campus of the University of Adelaide, four generations of Barngarla people sit conference-style around a table.


October 2014
Bloomsbury; $25.99
By Claire Corbett
“Without the bone and sinew of wings, no flight,” muses one character in Stone Mattress, the latest book of stories from Margaret Atwood. This line, a reflection that all we are can only be felt and expressed through the body, also serves as an artistic credo, on the way the detail and grit of the mundane give force to the imagination.
October 2014
From stick insects to swagmen in Don Watson’s ‘The Bush’
By John Hirst
Out of what he calls his “confused and contradictory affections”, Don Watson has written a loving rumination on Australia, the landmass, and those who live on it and from it.
October 2014
‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier’ at the National Gallery of Victoria
By Karen de Perthuis
Tanel Bedrossiantz, in a dress from the Jean Paul Gaultier Barbès collection, ready-to-wear, Autumn–Winter 1984–85. © Paolo Roversi
“Fashion appeals to too many people,” complained the extravagant fashion muse Isabella Blow. It’s not a complaint you’ll often hear from art gallery curators and museum directors. The fashion show is the new blockbuster. When The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the...
October 2014
Black Inc.; $32.99
By Geordie Williamson
Robert Hughes’s notorious 1988 demolition of the New York art-world darling Jean-Michel Basquiat was called ‘Requiem for a Featherweight’. Erik Jensen’s brief, episodic biography of Adam Cullen could not be further from Hughes’s article in tone: neither lordly in condemnation...
October 2014
Macmillan Australia; $32.99
By Richard Cooke
“The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. The political theorists of the past fantasised about what governance could solve in conditions of universal learning and material abundance.