May 2018

Essayism by Brian Dillon

A Mole, A Viper, A Toad: Brian Dillon’s Essayism

I am so grateful to have been, at last, the right reader for Essayism. It is Dillon’s life preserver, thrown to himself, and it is joyfully, wonderfully good.

Down the Hume by Peter Polites

Nursing Grievances: Neoliberal Noir in Peter Polites’ Down the Hume

This ambitious re-situating of the noir in the ethnically diverse Australian city, with its complicated stratifications of class and ethnicity, raises the question of what the genre can do for these new contexts. Noir has long offered a space for airing working-class grievances, and for smuggling in queer and feminist subtexts. What, then, does noir do for contemporary Western Sydney, and what can it do for the children of migrants and working-class queers in Australia? Can the genre be re-inhabited in ways that self-consciously expose the grim machinations and effects of new types of economic, psychic and social exclusion while delivering, concurrently, the reading pleasures of mystery and melodrama? It is certainly a lot to pull off.

My Father Didn’t Write That: I Did: on A Woman of the Future

Revisiting A Woman of the Future is not like discovering a prophetic message or a time capsule. It is not like a centrefold pinned up in the garage. It is like being given a good hard shake by the furry hand of Alethea Hunt.

The Book of Dirt by Bram Presser

What Fills the Silence: The Book of Dirt by Bram Presser

The Book of Dirt is both a loving, honest portrayal of lives that would have been erased, and an incorporation of the broader lessons of their experience into contemporary mythology. It keeps the discussion about trauma, memory, and intergenerational acts of transfer alive for those generations that follow, that risk forgetting. It is a potent achievement for a debut novel.

Keep up with the SRB

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter

The SRB is an initiative of The Writing and Society Research Centre at Western Sydney University

April 2018

Richard Nixon post-truth
Wakuwal-Dream by Peter Botsman

What Stands to Reason: Isabelle Stengers and Peter Botsman

'Reading Another Science is Possible and Wakuwal in succession, I am struck by the thought that Stengers and Botsman have written the same treatise in different languages, and from different places in the human psyche. They issue the same call for a tectonic shift in the cognitive landscape.'

March 2018

Imre Kertész
Cold Light by Frank Moorhouse

Odd Fish:
Frank Moorhouse’s Cold Light

I have returned to Cold Light, the third novel in the Edith Trilogy by Frank Moorhouse, time and time again.

A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman
Fingertip of the Tongue by Sarah Rice book cover

Textures of Language and Thought: Sarah Rice

Sarah Rice’s poems both advocate a poetry that is attuned to the heart, the body, and the spirit, along with the brain, and embody this poetics in richly metaphorical, euphonious, descriptive, and synaesthetic language.

Sheila Pham
Bronwyn Oliver

A Grand Completeness:
Bronwyn Oliver: Strange Things

ink is as scrupulous, in her way, as her subject was. By which I mean she is able, most of the time, to avoid comment. She doesn’t editorialise. The significance of events in Oliver’s life is allowed to emerge from contemporary testimony, perhaps, or from narrative juxtaposition, or simply because of the baleful grandeur of Oliver’s commitment to her work and the sometimes alarming consequences of her dedication.

The Museum of Words by Georgia Blain

The Speed of Life: Georgia Blain’s The Museum of Words

Blain was able to write only under the most stringent circumstances. In the morning, assisted by meditation, steroids and two strong coffees, she could carve out an hour, and later a mere 45 minutes, to find and assemble the appropriate words. As she edits the previous day’s work, she is ‘dismayed to see how convoluted and strained’ her expression becomes near the end of the hour. After that, nothing makes much sense: ‘It is like the cotton in the branches of the cottonwood trees … Each spring this cotton forms, floating away on the breeze, wafting, insubstantial, and always so maddeningly out of reach.’

Literary Criticism A Concise Political History by Joseph North

So Far, So Left?: Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History by Joseph North

I think it would be a mistake to read Literary Criticism as simply another history of twentieth-century criticism. The tendentious and programmatic shaving down of local complexities allows North to sharpen his polemic into manifesto-like poignancy. One of the peculiarities of the manifesto is that it presumes the existence of something it is actually engaged in creating. This, I think, accounts for the odd yet telling choice to name a book after a practice that in its own account has been off the disciplinary map for at least the last few decades.