Reviewer: Geordie Williamson

By this author


Culture November 13, 2021

The Dogs

“It seems to me,” writes the narrator of W. G. Sebald’s 2001 novel Austerlitz, that “all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way to them at last, …

Culture October 30, 2021

How to End a Story: Diaries 1995-1998

Helen Garner’s third and final volume of published diaries covers three years, from 1995 to 1998, during which her marriage to author Murray Bail finally broke down. As a diary – one, moreover, written by an author with an avid and democratic eye …

Culture October 16, 2021

Scary Monsters

The first thing to know about Scary Monsters is that it consists of two novellas bound top to tail within a single paperback. It’s a design decision that reinforces the world-turned-upside-down nature of the stories contained: one a narrative …

Culture August 28, 2021

Red Heaven

For Virginia Woolf, it was Hamlet. A play the Modernist giant found so resonant and abundant with meaning that she thought an annual re-reading, along with a record of the reader’s shifting responses to the text over time, would form a kind …

Culture August 14, 2021

Dark as Last Night

Tony Birch has published four short story collections in a little over a decade, a dedication to the form with few comparisons in contemporary Australian literature. He writes stories as Ernest Hemingway suggested a true practitioner of the craft should …

Culture July 17, 2021

The Tribute

W. H. Auden loved detective fiction for the soothing inevitability of its narrative arc. An ordered world is disturbed by an act of murder. The person responsible for that crime is sought, discovered and punished. The world is returned to rights. But …

Culture June 19, 2021

The Other Half of You

“Never marry an outsider, never have less than five children, never go against the family, never go against the village, and never question me.” So ran the script that Arab men in Michael Mohammed Ahmad’s family passed onto their sons. Presumably …

Culture June 05, 2021

Stranger Care

Like many before her, Sarah Sentilles had no idea that whole regions of her heart lay dormant until she had a baby. These emotions come in hard and fast and change you physically. It’s like the letting down of mother’s milk. But there is a wrinkle …

Culture May 15, 2021

Night Blue

American author William H. Gass believed colour stood for consciousness and feeling in a world where our vocabulary for such states was impoverished. He wrote an entire book about the colour blue to expand his point. Angela O’Keeffe’s novella about …

Culture March 20, 2021

My Year of Living Vulnerably

Rick Morton writes prose like drag artists perform gender: with unabashed enthusiasm, stylistic flair and carefully calibrated exaggeration. Readers are first distracted by the glitter-bombs of wit on display. Only afterwards do they note the pathos and …

Culture February 20, 2021

The Death of Francis Bacon

Feelings of desperation and unhappiness “are more useful to an artist than the feeling of contentment”, said Francis Bacon, one of the most notorious figures of 20th-century art, “because desperation and unhappiness stretch your whole sensibility”. Agreed, …

Culture October 24, 2020

Our Shadows

In the winter of 1893, the Irish prospector Paddy Hannan and two compatriots noted the presence of gold in the place that would become known as Kalgoorlie. The diggings were soon swarmed, and a bustling mining town grew up in the years that followed, …

Culture September 19, 2020

Ordinary Matter

A scandalous discrepancy links the 20 short stories contained within Ordinary Matter. They are fictions inspired by scientific achievements belonging to women over the course of the 20th century. Yet these same women are embedded in an undertaking …

Culture March 28, 2020

Displaced

Philosopher Glenn Albrecht calls it farmosophy – thinking philosophically and creatively in relation to the practice of farming. It’s a new name for an old undertaking – Hesiod’s agricultural poem “Works and Days” is one of the earliest …

Culture October 12, 2019

Ducks, Newburyport

James Joyce wrote Ulysses, he suggested, as a way of making the novel safe for women and children. He meant that the stream-of-consciousness technique he developed, with its concentration on interior psychological states and mundane domestic …

Culture September 14, 2019

The Man Who Saw Everything

“It seems to me then,” says the eponymous narrator of W.  G. Sebald’s 2001 novel Austerlitz, “as if all the moments of our life occupy the same space, as if future events already existed and were only waiting for us to find our way …

book July 27, 2019

The Nickel Boys

“Freedom,” wrote James Baldwin, still the most subtle and anguished anatomist of race in American letters, “is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.” Colson Whitehead’s …

Culture June 29, 2019

This Is Shakespeare

Let me count the ways in which Emma Smith’s This Is Shakespeare is the ideal book of its moment for unlocking the works of that most miraculous, mysterious and be-pedestalled figure in English literature. First, but least obtrusive in her …

Culture March 23, 2019

Kindred: A Cradle Mountain Love Story

It is the photographs scattered through the text of Kindred that grab our attention first. Two pairs of battered boots in close-up, hanging on a nail. A rudimentary bush campsite where a couple of thin ropes are tied between two trees and draped …

Culture February 16, 2019

The Photographer at Sixteen

On July 31, 1975 – in the midst of an uncharacteristically hot English summer – Magda Szirtes, a Jewish Hungarian survivor of World War II, took an overdose in her North London home. The ambulance dispatched to revive her was delayed by a minor traffic …