Reviewer: Louise Swinn

By this author


Culture September 26, 2020

Vida

Hot on the heels of last year’s memoir, Beyond Words: A Life with Kenneth Cook, journalist and author Jacqueline Kent focuses her gaze on the indefatigable women’s rights campaigner Vida Goldstein. Kent has written biographies of pianist …

Culture August 22, 2020

The Pull of the Stars

During the 1918 influenza pandemic, dissenters cut holes in masks to puff on cigars. In the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the hypercaffeinated pull masks to chins for takeaway lattes. Perhaps the biggest difference is that in 1918 it was healthy young people …

Culture July 25, 2020

The Fogging

Novels are uniquely placed to depict the interiority of a person, saving from obsolescence a particular entertainment that is unadulterated crack for some. Luke Horton’s debut, The Fogging, is a study in interiors. Academics Tom and Clara have …

Culture June 27, 2020

On Robyn Davidson

It begins with lightkeeper Esther Nunn, inspired after she is sent Tracks by a friend. Or it begins with author Anna Krien, for whom Robyn Davidson has been a moral compass since, as a child, Krien saw Davidson on the cover of National Geographic. …

Culture June 06, 2020

Notes from an Apocalypse

When British philosopher and mathematician Frank Ramsey wrote in the 1920s that the wellbeing of future generations should not be given less weight than current generations, he was ahead of his time. This consideration might affect how we vote, where …

Culture May 16, 2020

Torched

With no time to recover from the recent fire season and the next one looming behind this pandemic, Torched, set in a Yarra Valley town devastated by bushfires, indisputably captures the spirit of the times. Kimberley Starr evokes Brunton, once …

Culture April 25, 2020

Hamnet

At one point in Hamnet, award-winning Irish–British author Maggie O’Farrell’s eighth novel, the cloaked physician is at the door because Hamnet’s twin, Judith, is unwell, and Hamnet asks his mother whether the physician’s mask is sufficient …

Culture April 11, 2020

The Dictionary of Lost Words

At one point early on in this excellent debut novel, The Dictionary of Lost Words, set in Oxford 120 years ago, it appears as though Esme may have to choose between getting married and becoming an editor, a choice that doesn’t seem as outdated …

Culture February 29, 2020

Melting Moments

Ruby grows up in the time of the passive tense – when appearance is everything, when she would do well to heed her elders, and when it is acceptable to assume that men only want one thing from a girl. But her daughter, Eva, coming of age with Whitlam …

Culture February 15, 2020

Flight Lines

A growing number of writers grappling with the accelerated rate at which our habitat is changing are also demonstrating our connectedness to the natural world. This summer, those of us not directly in the line of fire have adapted to the haze and floods, …

Culture November 30, 2019

The Shelf Life of Zora Cross

Zora Cross was a poet and journalist writing a hundred years ago. The obviousness of the assertion that if she had been a man we would be considerably more familiar with her oeuvre doesn’t make the reality of it any less enraging. Her 1917 poetry collection, …

Culture October 26, 2019

Bruny

Something is rotten in the state of Tasmania. When the Bruny bridge is bombed while under construction, United Nations conflict resolution expert Astrid Coleman’s twin brother, JC – who also happens to be the Tasmanian premier – asks her home from …

Culture September 28, 2019

Pills, Powder, and Smoke

While our government, under the guise of “compassionate conservatism”, announces plans to drug-test welfare recipients, journalist Antony Loewenstein brings us Pills, Powder, and Smoke, the result of more than four years’ investigation …

Culture August 03, 2019

Hearing Maud

We live in an age where memoirs arrive thick and fast, and a book deal comes easiest to those in the public eye. When there’s little money in skewering yourself for general consumption unless fame has first taken its toll, it’s unlikely a memoirist …

Culture July 06, 2019

Yellow City

While awaiting the publication of Ellena Savage’s debut essay collection, Blueberries, we have this blessing of a chapbook, Yellow City. A former editor of Farrago and The Lifted Brow, Savage has published widely …

Culture May 11, 2019

Greek to Me

A televised spelling bee will divide the room, especially if there is an expectation to participate: some will slide deep into their seats as others perkily top up glasses. Mary Norris is strictly for the word nerds. Her attraction to Greek is altogether …