Oh This Age! Oh These Manners!

Right.  Let me see if I can justify this post.  It’s not going to be typical of this blog.

It is about a writer.  That’s good.  On this blog I write about writers and writing.  But it’s really about Twitter and a Melbourne daily broadsheet called The Age.  Not so good.  There we enter unfamiliar waters.  Possibly waters marked ‘Here Be (Marine Species Of) Dragons’.  We’ll see.  But it’s also about freedom of expression and about variety of expression.  And that’s something I’ve written about before.

If, like me, you live in Victoria then you already know that last week Catherine Deveny lost her job as an opinion columnist with The Age.  And you – more or less – know why.  For any readers hailing from more far-flung areas, or any living humble lives in caves and only alleviating the boredom by reading adaironbooks.wordpress.com, a brief re-cap is probably in order.  For the rest of you, be assured that I’ll keep it very short. Continue reading


On Peter Porter

The name Peter Porter is not spoken with the reverent frequency it should be in his home country.  Even his Wikipedia entry is sternly brusque and rather more concerned with the bibliography than the man.

But my goodness he can write poetry.  If you’ve never read ‘An Angel in Blythburgh Church’ it’s possible that you don’t know what I’m talking about.  You should.  By which I mean you should read it, and then you’ll know what I’m talking about.


In the interim, check out this little peach: ‘Sex and the Over Forties’ Continue reading

Servicing Is Golden

A few doors from my humble abode there is a business known as ‘Golden’.  I don’t want to know what they do, because I’m sure the reality will disappoint the expectations inspired by their tag-line: ‘Proudly Servicing Melbourne For Forty Years’.

Whatever it is they get up to, my interest in them reaches near-feverish levels when they have garage sales.  Mostly because (can you guess?) they sell books.  For the sum of ten dollars, you are presented with a plastic bag which you may stuff to splitting with the tomes spread out on the dusty concrete floor. Continue reading

On Oswald Schwartz And Sex

Ever since I first had the theories of Freud and Jung pounded into me by lecturers labouring under the preposterous assumption that such theories were indispensable aids to literary criticism, I’ve been deeply suspicious of psychology and psychoanalysis.

I warmed to Freud somewhat after I discovered that he had a cocaine habit for a while, but I can’t say I’ve ever been bowled over by any of his major theories.  I hasten to add that even in translation it’s obvious that he was a skilful prose stylist, and I do dip into him from time to time (I have tiny soft-spots for Totem and Taboo and The Future of an Illusion).  I frankly can’t get myself excited about Jung, though.  And I have tried.  Nada.  Maybe next year. Continue reading

Retail (And Reading) Therapy

When an unpleasant task must be performed, or an unpleasant journey must be undertaken my thoughts turn to retail therapy.  This seems to be a trait common to many members of my benighted generation.

Unlike, I suspect, many members of my benighted generation, my idea of really good, truly satisfying and utterly enriching retail therapy occurs only when I’m on my knees (careful…) sifting through piles of books in op-shops. Continue reading

Joel Deane’s ‘The Norseman’s Song’

Isn’t that a stunning front cover?  It’s one of those rare moments when the designer gets it exactly, but exactly right.   The author of this fetching tome, Joel Deane, doesn’t pull off quite so flawless a performance between the covers (as it were) but he comes perilously close.  So close it hurts. Continue reading

A (Purely Platonic) Tribute to Estelle Tang

Having not quite got the whole ‘Let’s do parodies of other online reviewers’ thing out of my system with my cunningly crafted tribute to Angela Meyer, it’s time for another one.  Also, although there have been numerous and thunderous knockings at my door late at night, none of them have been a prelude to my being surrounded by balaclava-clad heavies wielding truncheons and growling ‘Mz Meyer is very, very unhappy… And when Mz Meyer gets very unhappy, WE get very, very, very angry.’  So take a bow, today’s victim: Estelle Tang.  With luck, Estelle doesn’t have the budget or inclination to hire a goon-squad either. Continue reading