Australian politics, society & culture


Germaine Greer © Maggie Hannan/Flickr
Germaine Greer and 'The Female Eunuch'
By Louis Nowra
Illustration by Jeff Fisher.
By Gay Bilson
Edmund Capon's "I Blame Duchamp"
By Sebastian Smee
No one ever seems surprised by Edmund Capon’s success, for he is charm incarnate. He has led one of Australia’s most visited art galleries, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, since 1978. You watch the way he floats, like pollen, from engagement to engagement – opening this, dropping in on that, giving his blessings
Black Inc., 224 pp; $27.95
By Zora Simic
At first glance, Anna Goldsworthy’s memoir, Piano Lessons, appears rather modest: she revisits her childhood and adolescence in comfortably suburban Adelaide, with the passing years marked by her development as a classical pianist under the tutelage of her piano teacher, Mrs Eleanora Sivan, a Russian émigré and one of
By Drusilla Modjeska
In Granta’s anthology called Fathers, published at the end of last year there’s a tough little story from New Zealand’s Kirsty Gunn. It’s called ‘The Father’. Actually, it’s about a grandfather who turns up when the children are on holiday. Fathers aren’t something these children know about; their mothers, who are
J.M. Coetzee's 'Summertime'
By Inga Clendinnen
JM Coetzee wrote Boyhood, his account from inside the mind (distanced third person, urgent present tense) of an unnamed South African boy heading into puberty when he was in his fifties. Surely he was young to be writing memoirs? Surely another novel would have been a better use of his time, especially when the novel
By Amanda Lohrey
I could not remember another time when a newsreader had been elevated above bishops at an important state memorial service, yet no one in the media remarked on it. This, I believe, is a direct outcome of the fact that for over three decades Australians have been attending weddings and funerals performed by civil
Judith Wright & Nugget Coombs
By Fiona Capp
When Coombs died he was farewelled with a state funeral. He had been an enormously influential figure in Australian political and cultural life since the 1940s, first as Director-General of Post-War Reconstruction and later as Governor of the Reserve Bank, adviser to successive federal governments, Chancellor of the
Haydn in the Outback
By Nicolas Rothwell
“I suppose you think this is beautiful,” said Johnson, in a challenging voice.“Well,” I said, “it does have a certain primal quality.”We had not been getting on for the past 300 kilometres, and this was mostly because of the music issue. Photographers, and their musical tastes, have formed a leitmotif in my desert
"The Accidental Guerrilla" by David Kilcullen
By Hugh White
Soldiers who are also scholars have always had a certain cachet, but since 1914, when major warfare became unrelentingly industrial, soldier-scholars have flourished best at the margins, in the small wars of imperial decline. It was only in these wars that brute firepower might count for less than insight, imagination
Damien Wright & His Table
By Gideon Haigh
Wright is speaking in his workshop, in Melbourne's inner north, and proving difficult to interview. Not because he is inarticulate - on the contrary, he speaks with unfaltering adamance. But he is visibly restless. He drops into a rocking chair. He moves to his office. He ascends a ladder. He orbits three giant slabs
Philip Roth’s 'Indignation'
By Drusilla Modjeska
When, in 1951, Philip Roth affixed decals to the rear of his father's Chevy - "one proclaiming the name of my new university, the other the Greek initials of my fraternity" - his uncle, a drycleaner, took to calling him ‘Joe College'. It was a name that stuck even after Roth scraped the decals off, no longer wanting
By Don Walker
By Tim Rogers
Two years back I spent time with Don Walker in the manner to which we're both accustomed: meet in a lobby, jump in a van, drive to a show, play, drive back, avoid morning duties with shaky resolve. I was intimidated, not merely by his prowess as a songwriter but by his steady gaze. Come 4 am we were talking of Iran
Laurent Cantet’s 'The Class'
By Luke Davies
Peter Craven on the Best Books for Summer
By Peter Craven
I suppose 2008 will be remembered as the year when the bottom fell out of the markets and America elected Barack Obama. If the former is likely to send most readers screaming back to John Maynard Keynes (or perhaps to the remarkably detailed and candid The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice
By Peter Craven
Alice Schroeder, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life (Bloomsbury, 976pp; $49.95). Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father, read by the author (Text Publishing, 6 CDs; $39.95).Helen Garner, The Spare Room (Text Publishing, 208pp; $29.95).Christos Tsiolkas, The Slap (Allen & Unwin, 496pp; $32.95). Tim
Australian Political Memoirs
By Peter Hartcher
One of the standout episodes illustrating the tomfoolery of federal parliamentarians is the time that Peter Costello flung a sheaf of paper across the table into Paul Keating's face. It ranks with the occasion when Gough Whitlam tossed a glass of water into Paul Hasluck's face, but because it happened in the