Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Clarke, Dawe and the Secret of Satire

John Clarke and Bryan Dawe are without doubt the finest satirists working in Australia today, or for that matter the world.  Tight, intensely witty and infallibly moral, they stun me over and over again.

If, due to the vicissitudes of fate or some crippling injury sustained as a result of living in a dank cave all your life has prevented you from ever seeing them in action, have a squint at these: Continue reading

A Purely Platonic Tribute To Angela Meyer

Lately, my thoughts have turned more and more frequently to Angela MeyerAlthough not in that way.  Really.  Purely platonic thoughts is what we’re thinking here.  Right, right, there was that one – but that was an aberration.  Seriously.  Ok, two aberrations.  My point stands.  And I don’t care if I haven’t made a point yet.  It stands nevertheless.  Anyway.  I’m jealous of Angela Meyer.  Let this be clearly understood.  She has more readers than me, she presents Q and As at literary festivals and she’s slightly more attractive than I am.  So I thought I’d see if I could generate a larger following by stealing her style.  I’m not sure how to tackle the whole slightly more attractive thing.  That might take a bit more work. Continue reading

To Homer

I’m not really sure what the following piece is.  It’s certainly not a book review, and I hope it’s not a complete self-indulgence.  The only thing I can say for sure about it is that it felt right when I was writing it, and it still feels right now that I’ve read over it.  It contains a few references that might not be immediately clear if you don’t know my family well.  I can’t really help that.  But it might help, as a starting point, to know that Homer is what we all called my grandfather.  No completely satisfactory explanation of this nick-name was ever given.  Homer died late last year, and his last days were marked by a stoicism and good humour that still takes my breath away.

Continue reading

To Snark, Or Not To Snark…

Last night the deeply satisfying experience of having friends discuss my blog in my presence was vouchsafed me.  That they failed to gush with fulsome praise and naked envy at the felicity of my prose is neither here nor there.  Let it pass.  Such fleeting worldly rewards are immaterial to me.

What interested me was a comment which amounted to this: ‘I’ve never read anyone who can be so malicious about books as you are.’  It is possible that the intervening hours (and the tumbler of Jameson whisky I was nursing at the time) may have fogged my memory, but the substance of the statement, I’m sure, is rendered accurately. Continue reading

Self Flagellation

In the dark old days of Mao’s China, erring party disciples would, if they were exceptionally lucky, be made to write self-criticisms.  In these documents, the straying member of the flock would abase themselves, detail their crimes against the collective and swear to be a better and truer comrade in the future.  For all I know, this sort of thing still goes on.

In the short life of this blog, I find I have urinated copiously from the lofty internet heights on Robert Frost, Inga Clendinnen, Nick Hornby, Francis Collins, Emma Beare, Don DeLillo, Ron Rash, Madeleine St John, Andrew Porter, Bret Easton Ellis, Margaret Atwood, Norman McGreevy, Michael Leunig, Colleen McCullough, J D Salinger (the day after he died), Bryce Courtenay and Tim Winton.  Well over twenty per cent of my posts, in other words, have been more or less slavering attacks.

The tables must turn, however.  In the interests of fairness, I’m going to have a go at me.  Ladies and gentlemen, the scorpion is about to sting himself.  Let the Mao-style self-criticism begin.  I direct this not to Mao, but to George Orwell, whose Politics and the English Language is and shall always be my final guide to writing.  The idea of taking up a totalitarian epistolary notion and directing it at Orwell is grievously inappropriate, but I can’t resist. Continue reading