Weekend Round-Up 2007 #10

The Age

It never seems to take long for major cricket books to be published these days. Two months after the end of the 2006-07 Ashes series, Gideon Haigh's All Out: The Ashes 2006-2007 has been released and is reviewed this week by Warwick Hadfield. Even he says: "It is appropriate to wonder if this publication is out too soon, or that given the comprehensive media coverage of the tour, if anybody would ever need to read a book about it at any time." But this is a book by Gideon Haigh, and that should
be enough, "Quite simply, you need to read this one - not just because of a result, but because of the unique view on proceedings presented by the perceptive author." There will be others based on this series, but it seems you won't need to go past this one.

The Argus Building at the corner of Elizabeth and La Trobe Streets in Melbourne, sits forlornly abandoned, reminder of the lost metropolitan newspaper that gave the building its name. It is now over 50 years since the paper issued its last edition, so it is appropriate that a history of the publication has finally been published: The Argus: Life and Death of a Newspaper by Jim Usher. Peter Cole-Adams, in his review, finds that "By conventional standards, the book is a mess - less a coherent history than a grab-bag of reminiscences by people who worked for the paper during its last rumbustious years. But this is also its strength. These personal anecdotes, character sketches and ruminations recall the excitement, smell and din of the hot-metal days when copy was bashed out on ancient typewriters by reporters who wore hats and collars and ties, smoked like chimneys, drank like fish and did extraordinary things to get a story."

"Sober" and "scrupulous" is the way the Owen Richardson describes J.M. Coetzee's new collection of essays, Inner Workings: Literary Essays 2000-2006: "As with the novels, the voice, the authorial persona is distinctive but muted: grave, sober, scrupulous (this latter being one of Coetzee's favourite terms of approval). If you're looking for the showmanship by which some literary journalists seek to distinguish
themselves from academics and from each other, you'll be disappointed."

The Weekend Australian

Barry Oakley, former literary editor of "The Australian", is pretty impressed with Keneally's body of work, comparing him, favorably, with Joyce Carol Oates and Peter Ackroyd. Unfortunately he doesn't find the author at the top of his form in The Widow and Her Hero, which "is a patchwork of a novel, often penetrating, sometimes powerful but never gaining the momentum to carry the story along. Keneally, however, is such a cunning artificer that he's very readable even when not firing on all cylinders."

Nicholson Baker once wrote a very interesting book about his relationship with John Updike - in brief, he didn't have one - and has also been known to write long expositions on the minutiae of modern life, such as Room Temperature. Alex Jones, in his latest novel, Helen Garner and the Meaning of Everything, appears to be attempting to combine the two. Geordie Williamson notes that the book is "Part novel, part fantasy autobiography,
part metaphysical fugue (in the spirit of Lewis Carroll or, perhaps, Douglas Hofstadter riffing on Carroll in his Godel, Escher, Bach), Helen Garner can be read as a cock and bull story in the spirit of Tristram Shandy, a Proustian meditation on domestic contentment (who else would celebrate the texture of ugg boot lining against toes) and as a deeply recondite essay on the meaning of meaning."

"Why would a white male playwright in late middle age buy into the vexed issue of indigenous domestic violence and child abuse? Louis Nowra decided to speak out after he spent several days in hospital in Alice Springs in 2005 with an undiagnosed case of pancreatitis." The result is Bad Dreaming: Aboriginal Men's Violence Against Women and Children, which is reviewed by Rosemary Neill. "Human rights before cultural rights
is Nowra's mantra. It has been said before, but given the scale and ugliness of the problem, it's imperative that we keep listening."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 27, 2007 1:11 PM.

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