Arts & Letters

James Mangold’s ‘Walk the Line’
By Helen Garner
California, 1968. Not a flowerchild in sight. The camera edges up to the grim granite walls of Folsom Prison. The exercise yards are empty. A crow fossicks in a trash can. Jumpy armed guards patrol the towers. Where is everyone? Faint music...
The work of Mutlu Çerkez
By Justin Clemens
Early in the twentieth century, a few artists realised art wasn’t simply a matter of the senses. Nor could art be identified with any particular material, content, form, technique, theme or colour, or any mix of these. Art was both less and more...
By Alan Saunders
When is Australia going to stop being young? I may have miscounted but, as far as I can see, of the 193 independent nations states listed in the CIA World Factbook, no fewer than 143 are younger than us. Even if you allow that many of these have...
By Anne Manne
Happenstance, Daniel Menaker calls it, the utterly contingent nature of our lives. Family Wanted is an anthology of essays by some very fine writers about lives shaped by adoption. It confronts us with the brute fact that one’s existence can hang by...
Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz
By Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz
Master producer Rick Rubin’s reinvention of Neil Diamond
By Robert Forster
Neil Diamond and Rick Rubin are like two trains coming from opposite directions. Diamond is the veteran: forty years in the business, hit singles, Vegas, movies and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with Barbra Streisand. Rubin is the hip record producer...
'The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper', Simon Leys, Black Inc; $19.95
‘The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper’ by Simon Leys
By Peter Robb
Franz Ferdinand, the band that changed the rock song
By Robert Forster
If this album review was a Franz Ferdinand song it would almost be over by now. These boys don’t hang about. Short, sharp songs, guitar riffs bouncing all over the place, storming choruses, a deft cultural reference or two and then they’re off, down...
The writings of Alex Miller
By Drusilla Modjeska
In a recent interview, Alex Miller told a story about a friend called Max Blath coming to visit him. It was years ago, before he’d published, when he was living on a farm outside Canberra. Max, a “survivor from Europe”, would turn up in a taxi from...
What’s a hard-working TV legend supposed to do when his fans stop watching him?
By Matthew Ricketson
Promo by Ray Martin on Channel Nine at 6.25 p.m.: “Coming up on A Current Affair – dangerous footpaths. Don’t trip, the Council will blame you. Plus, are we really ready for war?” No doubt about Ray, he’s always got his priorities...
Directors, producers and the importance of unsubtlety
By Clive James
There are more bad director’s movies than bad producer’s movies. –ANON A standard piece of Hollywood wisdom would have us believe there are more bad director’s movies than bad producer’s movies. I first heard this maxim from Marty Elfand...
By Zora Simic
In colonial New South Wales – where the convicts outnumber the jailers, the natives outnumber the convicts, and the sheep outnumber the lot – a whispered ballad, a “banded tale”, thrives to the status of legend. The Ballad of Desmond Kale is thus: “...
By Kerryn Goldsworthy
Any poet could have told the ABC that with a name like Vulture its new arts program was bound to get negative feedback. A vulture is an ugly, disgusting creature whose presence lets you know your death is imminent.This may be why one blogger, having...
Eavesdropping on Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir
By Maria Tumarkin
A friend of mine was once married to a Russian musician, the lead singer of a band who subsequently became widely known in Russia, you could even say famous. To this day the band’s songs are listened to by millions, stadiums get filled and critics...
Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz
By Shane Maloney and Chris Grosz
By Clive James
The nickname ‘Diamond Jim’ fitted James McClelland the way ‘Big Julie from Chicago’ fitted the gangster in Guys and Dolls who rolled spotless dice, with the difference that Diamond Jim wasn’t acting. He was really like what his nickname said: spruce...
By Martin Flanagan
“You should write about Uncle Malcolm,” Lenny Clarke told me one day. Lenny’s a Kirrae Wurrung man. He lives on his traditional lands, opposite the Framlingham forest, outside the Victorian town of Warrnambool. Fraser got to know the Clarke family...
By Michelle Griffin
The waiters at Lentil As Anything, a homely 28-seat vegetarian joint on Blessington Street, St Kilda, never tell you how much to pay for your meal. There are no prices on the wall. You pay what you feel the meal was worth. Twenty dollars for a...

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