Weekend Round-Up #27

Jane Sullivan leads off the Review pages of Saturday's "Age" with a long article that suggests that the "history wars" might flare up again with the publication of Kate Grenville's new novel, The Secret River.

"Since the 'history wars' of two years ago, frontier violence in the early days of European settlement has become one of the most contentious aspects of the Australian story. Passions flared when Keith Windschuttle launched his challenge to the prevailing view in his book The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. He went back to the original sources for recent histories of first encounters with Aborigines in Tasmania, and found errors. Then he used these to attack Henry Reynolds and other historians, whom he accused of distorting the facts to favour their 'black armband' view of the past.

"Debates between Windschuttle and his opponents drew the kind of audiences and media coverage you might expect for a sporting clash. Whole books were written and essays were collected to refute his claims. In the tabloid press, historians who rallied against Windschuttle were called a moral mafia and white maggots."

Andrew McGahan's recent novel, The White Earth, explores some of this territory in current times (well, the 1990s anyway) and "This month sees the release of a book where, for the first time, an award-winning novelist has taken for her subject what happens when the settlers and the local Aboriginal people both want the same bit of extremely valuable land." Grenville is steeling herself for a backlash to the book. You can guarantee that the negative reviews of the novel wil reveal more about the reviewer than the novel itself.

Sullivan has had a busy week as she follows her opener with an interview with Shirley Hazzard. A good piece but whoever titled it "Duchess of Hazzard" should be taken out the back and shot.

Fans of Delia Falconer have been waiting since 1997 for her follow-up to The Service of Clouds. Now she is back with The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers. The book "pieces together the memories of Frederick Benteen, a captain in the US Army who fought with General Custer at the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn." Aviva Tuffield is impressed with the novel and hopes that " the fans of Falconer's first novel will follow her into this new terrain and that this book finds the audience it deserves."

Academic theses tend to the dry end of the scale, so it was with some degree of dread that I started reading the review of Cassi Plate's Restless Spirit. Plate submitted the core material of this book for her doctoral thesis at the University of Sydney. Now, that university, in association with Pan Macmillan and the Australian Research Council have started the "Thesis to Book" project, of which this is a part. Based on this review the book certainly sounds interesting. It deals with Plate grandfather but the "writer is very much present in the work, candid in her role as conduit for the events of the life, and their assembly."

Jill Singer, current newspaper columnist and former television current affairs host, has written a book which traces her own reproductive journey as a means of examining the current thinking about conception and fertility generally.

Short notices are given to: The Rattlesnake by Jordon Goodman: "We know it as a place for holiday and recreation, but in the 1840s the Great Barrier Reef was as uncharted as the so-called North-West Passage. Jordon Goodman has produced a thoroughly researched, measured, yet rattling yarn set in the halcyon days of British sea power"; Banned by James Cockington: "this survey of Ausralian wowserism (especially Melbourne) takes in such figures as Lola Montez, Norman Lindsay, Max Harris"; Sandstone by Stephen Lacey: "...a well-researched historical drama that evokes an Australia that has long since passed away"; Troubled Waters by Ruth Balint: "What Balint does so well in Troubled Waters, the first non-fiction manuscript to win the Vogel Literary award, is draw various threads of recent political forces into a coherent and compelling whole"; The World of Thea Proctor by Barry Humphries, Andrew Sayers & Sarah Engledow: "a catalogue for the Thea Proctor exhibition that has just closed at Canberra's National Portrait Gallery and features Barry Humphries providing a brief memoir of meeting and making friends with Proctor in the '50s"; What Women Want next by Susan Maushart: "Maushart makes her findings and arguments accessible through humour, but her relentless wit can grate. This is, nevertheless, a more sophisticated book than most others of its ilk."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 4, 2005 2:57 PM.

Poem: The Unwritten Books by E. Dyson was the previous entry in this blog.

Clive James Interview is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en