Ben Brooker is a writer, editor, critic, essayist, and playwright. His work has been featured by Overland, New Matilda, New Internationalist, Australian Book Review, RealTime, and Daily Review. Ben was a featured playwright at the Emerging Writers’ Festival Adelaide Roadshow in September 2014, and at the National Play Festival in Adelaide in July 2015. His most recently produced work for the stage was the dystopian triptych This Storm (which he also directed), a critical and commercial success at the 2016 Adelaide Fringe Festival. He is currently an inaugural Sydney Review of Books Emerging Critics Fellow.
All essays by Ben Brooker
The Last Man in Europe
by Dennis Glover
Published July, 2017
The Prompt of the Real
Glover uses the historical record to unpack the mythology that still surrounds the composition of Nineteen Eighty-Four, that is, Orwell’s heroic struggle against terminal illness to complete his magnum opus. Glover’s art lies in the careful curation of his researches, and in the fleshing out of their significance. Where the facts are unknown, Glover extrapolates from Orwell’s essays and diaries, a device that might jar but for the fact, observed by Glover in his author’s note, that ‘many contemporaries commented on Orwell’s habit of rehearsing the contents of his forthcoming writings in discussions with friends and colleagues’.
The Life In Them Words
‘Finely balanced and spiced with well-placed expletives, Patricia Cornelius talks as she writes. The poetic/profane dynamic that surges through her short, grungy plays about the Australian underclass is audible in her voice too. There is frequently a note of anger, a sudden, unapologetic coarsening that reminds you that Cornelius, who is now in her early sixties, has lost none of the fire that forged her first plays at the Melbourne Workers Theatre in the late 1980s (her ‘apprenticeship’ as she calls it). If anything, by her own admission, Cornelius has been emboldened by age. When I telephone her in Melbourne it has only been a couple of months since the infamous exchange at Carrillo and Ziyin Gantners’ dinner for 70 notable Australian playwrights at which Cornelius publicly upbraided Arts Minister Mitch Fifield for the Government’s cuts to the Australia Council. As Fifield left the stage following a platitudinous speech, Cornelius was reported to have risen to her feet like one of the Furies from Greek mythology to punish Fifield’s “false oaths”’.