Weekend Round-Up 2006 #45

The Age

Ian Britain, the editor of Meanjin, reviews the latest Clive James memoir, a book that has received a lot of attention overseas recently. Britain was bemused to see James on TV for the first time in the early 1980s, finding him to be "gauche-looking, sartorially challenged, moonfaced spectre, with his flat, unmodulated vocal tones; especially when compared with the tweedy lustre of Kenneth Clark on Civilisation or the dash and dazzle of Robert Hughes on The Shock of the New...It was hard not to conclude, and this latest volume of memoirs, recounting the very years of his evolution from TV critic to TV performer, bears out the conclusion, that there was something as studiously cultivated about his resistance to conventional glamour, his posture of ordinariness, as about his far-from-ordinary verbal facility. The counterpoint has made for a distinctive style in itself, as useful to his career as it is arresting." It's the "distinctive style" that made James such interesting viewing. If James was a colour he'd be brown.

As we enter the driest lead-up to a summer on record here in Victoria, Burn: The Epic Story of Bushfire in Australia by Paul Collins, is a timely reminder of what we might be in for. Christopher Bantick finds the books has some important points to make, not least: "The hard fact he presents is that fires have increased because of the expansion of people into the bush either through settlement or recreational interests. Where people are, fires occur."

The death of David Hookes a few years back raised some interesting questions in the country about the role of sport, alcohol and the media in the guiding of popular opinion. It was a strange time, and Michelle Schwarz has attempted to come to grips with it in One Split Second: The Death of David Hookes and the Trial of Zdravko Micevic. Ian Munro is impressed, but finds that "the results of this research are often out of context and there is no attempt to draw these disparate threads into a coherent whole."

Short notices are given to: The Victorian Premiers edited by Paul Strangio and Brian Costar: "This valuable reference is for anybody interested in political history posits the thesis that there are three basic phases in Victoria's political history: from foundation to the 1890s, federation to the 1950s and then the postwar years"; Emissary by Fiona McIntosh, who "writes competent, fast-paced genre fiction"; Bloodbath by Patricia Edgar who was a "lone woman in the nascent Australian television industry" and who "forged a career, with few precedents, in the areas of policy, regulation and children's production"; Heat 12: Ten Years edited by Ivor Indyk: the magazine's "high sense of purpose has been precious to a lot of us over the past 10 years".

The Australian

The only Australian book reviewed in this week's paper is one, I'm sorry to say, I don't have a lot of enthusiasm for: The Voice of the Thunderer: Journalism of H.G. Kippax selected and introduced by Harry Heseltine. Kippax was an editorial writer for "The Sydney Morning Herald" between 1938 and 1983. Peter Ryan thinks it is pretty good, however.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 4, 2006 9:48 PM.

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