Articles on Literature

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A new collection takes stock of the four decades that have passed since the publication of Dennis Altman’s landmark book, Homosexual. malstad

Noted works: After Homosexual

Noted Works is a new series on The Conversation devoted to long-form reviews of significant new books. See the end for further details. Dennis Altman was a young, articulate activist and out gay man when…
True story, seriously, it’s all about me. Nathan O'Nions

Non-fiction’s beauty is in the I of the beholder

Are we being saturated with “inconsequential memoir”? That question was posed in the latest edition of The Lifted Brow (TLB), a print/online journal of new Australian and international (think US) writing…
Can literary works play a productive part in the process of reconciliation? butupa

The case for Gail Jones’ Sorry

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future. – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology…
All serious writers should take their own work, and the efforts of others, seriously. photosteve101

Book reviewing is an art, in its own way

There should be no hard and fast rules concerning book reviewing. That’s because reviewing constitutes a worthy genre in its own right, one that should not be limited by guidelines or mandates. Criticism…
Let’s not underestimate the intellectual goodwill that sustains our literary culture. Antoine Robiez

In defence of book reviewers in Australia

Book reviewers and the editors of periodicals that commission them are used to sour assessments of their worth, but Professor John Dale’s article on The Conversation yesterday is in a class of its own…
Vidal sprinkled an almost limitless supply of bon-mots across our recent history. Antidote Films

Lest we forget: Gore Vidal and the United States of Amnesia

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia – by the Australian film-maker Nicholas Wrathall – has been doing the rounds of festival circuits since its release last year, and is currently showing at special…
We all know a good review when we read one – but what actually differentiates a good review from a bad one? Hartwig HKD

Here they are: the rules for book reviewing

Good book reviews are all alike while every bad review is bad in its own way. In Australia reviews are often bad in many different ways. Historically the trade has consisted of retired English academics…
A Million Windows asks a good deal of its readers, requiring us to piece together elements through patterns of connections rather than through a clear narrative line. runmonty

A look through A Million Windows by Gerald Murnane

Gerald Murnane’s most recent novel, A Million Windows, might be read as a meditation on the relation between sound and silence. At the heart of the novel, though only revealed at the end, is a secret that…
McBride’s narrative of trauma negotiates the burdens of Irish literary, religious and cultural history. Mysi

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – so form an opinion

For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say. The foundational challenge of Eimear McBride’s novel is plainly visible in its opening lines, above: the incomplete…
The financial model for Australian poetry publishing is rich and rare. Erich Ferdinand

Profit is rare, but poetry’s weird blooms persist

Recently on The Conversation, I described a remarkable moment of language experimentation highlighted by recent Australian poetry prizes. Panning out to a wider view of contemporary Australian poetry…
What is lost and gained when book reviewers remain faceless? Scott Beale / Laughing Squid, laughingsquid.com

Anonymous book reviews don’t foster our literary culture

The Saturday Paper publishes anonymous book reviews and, occasionally, reviews by identified critics. That anonymity was a much-discussed feature when the paper launched in March, and the debate continues…
A deeply moving novel about loss, grief and an unconventional coming of wisdom. yaruman5

The case for Randolph Stow’s To the Islands

Randolph Stow’s To the Islands (1958) is an astonishing novel, a work of poetic skill and political subtlety – and one that is rarely mentioned today. Its omission from Australian literary syllabuses and…
New technologies are helping adventurous readers find new contexts for their favourite novels. sama093

Lose yourself in books no more – interactive maps show the way

Ever get lost in a book? A new online database of crowd-sourced information called Placing Literature allows readers to explore the settings they are reading about through an interactive map. To me, this…
Read on for some pointers … although all will be revealed next week. Paul Bence

Who will win the 2014 Miles Franklin Award?

When Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North was published last year, one reviewer proclaimed he had just read the winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Award. Flanagan’s novel has now got as…
From suicide to heroin addiction, young adult fiction creates open discussion about the darker issues in our society. Flickr

Young adult fiction’s dark themes give the hope to cope

Problem or issue-based young adult novels are not new occurrences. From John Green’s Fault in Our Stars (2012) to Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007), books aimed at readers as young as 12, and as…
Is using a vast vocabulary such a good thing anyway? Candice Albach/ Raul Pacheco Vega

Shakespeare had fewer words, but doper rhymes, than rappers

New York-based data scientist and designer Matt Daniels recently noted Shakespeare’s much touted vast vocabulary and charted how many different words Shakespeare used in comparison to contemporary hip-hop…
There’s renewed interest in poetry that takes risks and engages inventively with form. Tian Yang

2014 is a rich and radical time in Australian poetry

Do you think of poetry as a quaint hobby or an antiquated riddle? Think again. If you haven’t been keeping up with Australian poetry this year, you’re missing some of the country’s most exciting avant-garde…

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