Weekend Round-Up #48

Gerald Murnane is one of those Australian authors who work on the margins of the literary world; popping up occasionally with a new work and then completely disappearing again. His first work was Tamarisk Row back in 1974 which was followed by his best-known work, The Plains, published by Norstrilia Press in 1982. Now he's published a collection of essays titled Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs, which is reviewed in "The Age" this week by Michael Epis. And Epis is quite impressed with the works presented here: "Gerald Murnane writes fiction like no one else. His essays read much like his fiction - which means he writes essays like no one else...He's funny - and the most serious of writers. These essays reveal the unique cast of mind that produced Murnane's seven works of fiction, which, he makes clear here, are unlikely to be added to. Although never a player of postmodern games, the fictionality of fiction is always present to him."

Chrissy Amphlett, as lead singer of the 1980s Australian rock band The Divinyls, had a stage presence like no other: combine equal parts Tina Turner and Deborah Harry, up the raunch and the volume and you might be getting somewhere near the mark. She has now retired from the music scene and has written an autobiography, Pleasure and Pain: My Life by Chrissy Amphlett & Larry Writer, which appears to reflect her performance on stage: "Driven by a furious ambition that seems to draw strength from frank distrust and a brutal disregard of others, the self-portrait that emerges from these dark and often bitter pages is close to psychopathic. What it says more generally, about rock'n'roll and what people will do to sell it, is no less horrifying...This is true grit and grime with a middle finger raised in perpetuity, albeit in a splint. Wannabe rock monsters, consider your research done."

If Wilfred Burchett was alive today he'd probably be languishing in some god-forsaken prison facing unspecified charges in our "war against terror". A new work on Burchett, Memoirs of a Rebel Journalist: The Autobiography of Wilfred Burchett edited by George Burchett and Nick Shimmin, is reviewed by Ross Fitzgerald in "The Weekend Australian".

Ii is hard to think of anyone in the world other than that lone-wolf Aussie journalist Wilfred Burchett who was on intimate terms with Ho Chi Minh, Zhou Enlai and Henry Kissinger. And it is difficult to think of any 20th-century writer and reporter other than John Pilger who has so polarised critical opinion about himself.

There are those such as Bertrand Russell who heaped praise on him for single-handedly alerting Western public opinion to the struggle of the Vietnamese people against the American aggressors. And there are commentators, including Robert Manne, who see Burchett as an unreconstructed Stalinist and a traitor to the country of his birth.

Bit of an interesting bloke then.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 5, 2005 9:25 AM.

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