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Analysis and Comment (31)

Why was this novel, completed in 1971, withdrawn from publication at the last moment? Why was this novel, completed in 1971, withdrawn from publication at the last moment? scrappy annie

Review: In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower

It is nearly 50 years since Australian writer Elizabeth Harrower’s previous novel The Watch Tower appeared. Why, after producing four novels between 1957 and 1966, did she stop writing? Or at least stop…
Telling stories for black and white alike involves a difficult negotiation of cultures and contexts. Telling stories for black and white alike involves a difficult negotiation of cultures and contexts. Luke Redmond

The case for Gularabulu by Paddy Roe

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome back to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing…
“We are the words, we are the music, we are the thing itself.” “We are the words, we are the music, we are the thing itself.” Wikimedia Commons

Virginia Woolf ballet should be a subtle and moving spectacle

Interest in all things Bloomsbury certainly seems to have taken an upturn. The National Portrait Gallery is planning an exhibition of the seminal modernist writer Virginia Woolf, to open later this year…
‘I am not like you suburb-dwellers,’ Carr is telling us. ‘I am extraordinary.’ ‘I am not like you suburb-dwellers,’ Carr is telling us. ‘I am extraordinary.’ Alan Porritt/AAP

Bob Carr’s Diary reveals a true satirist, a self-made grotesque

Bob Carr is at least as vain as your average politician. The unusual thing is that he knows it. And the shocking thing is that he doesn’t seem to mind letting us know that he knows it. Such are the complex…
The most magical moment of Matilda’s life is when she meets Feather, a wild bird-man whom she loves with all her heart. The most magical moment of Matilda’s life is when she meets Feather, a wild bird-man whom she loves with all her heart. Alfonso Jimenez

The case for The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing. See…
An alternative form of war literature? An alternative form of war literature? Nomadic Lass

For another view of World War I, look to Lord of the Rings

In the year of the World War I centenary, much renewed attention has been paid to war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and tables in bookshops are groaning under the weight of their work. These…
This sassy new prize may not be so hot. This sassy new prize may not be so hot. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Folio Prize nominations reveal underlying cultural chauvinism

The winner of The Folio Prize is announced on 10 March. This prize may be young, but it has already administered some high profile snubs. Its creation was in itself an implied criticism: founded as a response…
Bryson gives us a comprehensive and rigorous exploration of the Azaria Chamberlain case. Bryson gives us a comprehensive and rigorous exploration of the Azaria Chamberlain case. matthiassiegel

The case for John Bryson’s Evil Angels

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing. See…
Has the mining industry drowned out the arts in Western Australia? Not at all – the mines are fertile ground for storytellers. Has the mining industry drowned out the arts in Western Australia? Not at all – the mines are fertile ground for storytellers. AAP Image/Rebecca Le May

Mining for stories: the boom-and-bust mining literature cycle

It is often difficult to ascertain how the location or culture that you live within is perceived by others, but travelling to other parts of Australia or indeed the world as a Western Australian it’s usually…
The “digger myth” has left little room for appreciation or debate surrounding the work of today’s service personnel. The “digger myth” has left little room for appreciation or debate surrounding the work of today’s service personnel. Australian Department of Defence/AAP Image

The hard sell: has the Anzac industry passed its use-by date?

In his new book Anzac’s Long Shadow: The cost of our national obsession, James Brown argues that: a century after the war to end all wars, Anzac is being bottled, stamped and sold. The former soldier turned…
None of these Victorian-era New Zealand women became a Henry Handel Richardson. None of these Victorian-era New Zealand women became a Henry Handel Richardson. Thiophene Guy/Flickr

Why New Zealand has no great 19th-century novel

Historically, geographically, culturally – there are many points of comparison between Australia and its neighbour to the east, New Zealand. But there are notable differences. This week, The Conversation…
However you read them, there are some hot books this summer. However you read them, there are some hot books this summer. Leonard John Matthews

Australian literature and summer – books that sizzle

Summertime and reading always went together in my family. Whether we were sunbathing on hot silky beach sand or cooling off in the back yard under a shady plum tree, our books came too. In those pre-digital…
Serialised eBook chapters force us to make time to read. Serialised eBook chapters force us to make time to read. Ken Lee

A good year for screen readers: notable eBooks of 2013

I’ve nominated these eBooks as notable publications in 2013 based on three criteria. First, I enjoyed reading them enough to finish the whole text on a digital device. Second, they use the digital format…
Australian crime fiction hit the regions on 2013 – and international crime held a few surprises too. Australian crime fiction hit the regions on 2013 – and international crime held a few surprises too. jcoterhals

Out of the big smoke: crime fiction in 2013

Oddly enough and against trend – all those Scandinavian crime novels bobbing up in translation – I spent most of the year travelling Australia in crime fiction. From East (Peter Cotton’s Canberra in Dead…
Read on for some notable children’s books from the year gone by. Read on for some notable children’s books from the year gone by. San José Library

Tales of mystery and the mundane: children’s books in 2013

What makes a children’s book compelling? Is it a driving, action-centred plot that forces us to turn the page? Is it a puzzle that we solve from clues thrown down by the narrator – or is it a story that…
Digital technology has changed what, when, where and how we read. Digital technology has changed what, when, where and how we read. zandwacht

When books go digital: The Kills and the future of the novel

There is a section early in Richard House’s transmedia novel The Kills – published this year by Pan Macmillan and long-listed for the 2013 Man Booker Prize – in which the protagonist, Ford, is on the run…
Hilary Mantel: unprecedented success, but not the whole story. Hilary Mantel: unprecedented success, but not the whole story. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Women’s prizes inspire some and wind others up – perfect

The Costa book awards shortlists have been announced and the one thing that dominates people’s first reactions has been the fact the fiction shortlist is made up entirely of women authors. Is the response…
Lessing: “intellectually uncompromising”. Lessing: “intellectually uncompromising”. Juan Martin/AAP

Doris Lessing was a radical, in the truest sense

The writer and critic Margaret Drabble recently made an observation that I think is representative of the diverse and prolific career of the British author Doris Lessing, who died last night at 94: She…
Left: Girl Reading, by Franz Eybl. Oil on canvas, 1850. Right: Woman Reading, by Andrew Stevovich. Oil painting, 2011. Left: Girl Reading, by Franz Eybl. Oil on canvas, 1850. Right: Woman Reading, by Andrew Stevovich. Oil painting, 2011. Flickr, Plum Leaves; Wiki Commons, Andr.V.S.

What is a book in the digital age?

As a professional book designer, I’ve spent a decade observing electronic books from a cagey distance. A couple of years ago, I reluctantly recognised the need to engage with these alien book forms, both…
University textbooks are expensive for a reason. University textbooks are expensive for a reason. Textbook image from www.shuttestock.com

Required reading: here’s why textbooks are so expensive

Although student life at university is generally enjoyable, one aspect that blemishes the experience is the astronomical cost of textbooks. As many students head back to university this year, they can…
Reading, in particular printed books, aids in the development of concentration and the ability to focus. Reading, in particular printed books, aids in the development of concentration and the ability to focus. Flickr/Denise Krebs

In praise of the printed book: the value of concentration in the digital age

There is an old saying that anxiety is the enemy of concentration. One of the best pieces of sports journalism I ever read was by Gene Tunney, world heavyweight champion of the 1920s, writing about how…
Our digital era has seen the emergence of many reading technologies but students still prefer the printed book. Our digital era has seen the emergence of many reading technologies but students still prefer the printed book. Flickr/Declan Flemming

Printed journalism may be dying, but books still have a future

The cultural transformation brought about by digital convergence and networked communication has been dizzying, and, for many, disorienting. None of the old certainties – political, corporate, economic…
The jury is still out over the environmental impacts of eReaders versus paper books. The jury is still out over the environmental impacts of eReaders versus paper books. Julie Falk

Weighing the environmental costs: buy an eReader, or a shelf of books?

Bookshelves towering floor to ceiling filled with weighty tomes, or one book-sized device holding hundreds of “books” in electronic form: which one of these options for the voracious reader creates the…
Steve Jobs' desire for an enduring memory of his work led him to engage a biographer. The book has become his obituary. Steve Jobs' desire for an enduring memory of his work led him to engage a biographer. The book has become his obituary. EPA/Britta Pedersen

The power of biography: Why Steve Jobs' legend will live on

Steve Jobs' “official” biography was always going to be a bestseller, with its promise of a candid examination of the inner workings of the world’s most successful salesman and the company he twice built…
It’s fourth time lucky for Julian Barnes in the Booker Prize. It’s fourth time lucky for Julian Barnes in the Booker Prize. EPA/Alessandro Della Bella

Booker victory for Julian Barnes but should the focus be on ‘readability’?

Julian Barnes today won the Man Booker Prize for his novel about a childhood friendship and the fragility of memory, The Sense of an Ending. This is the fourth time he’s been nominated, and Barnes declared…
Last week’s Google Books ruling was a win for copyright protection. Last week’s Google Books ruling was a win for copyright protection. AAP

Google Books decision shows we need to turn a new page

The decision by a US Federal Court judge last week to reject a $US125 million settlement between Google Books and the publishing industry allows authors to protect their copyright and prevents Google from…