April 16, 2016
Take off that mask. Go on. You can’t, can you?
Over eighty million people who are registered on Facebook are not who they say they are1. I’m not surprised. Actually, I’m surprised the number is so low. Are you who you say you are? On Facebook? What about in ‘real’ life? (more…)
March 23, 2016
There are a number of important issues in Australia that affect the way our society operates, around asylum seeking, criminality and terrorism. The two main federal political parties appear to be acting on the notion that they will remain, or be, electable if they show that Australia is tough on both issues. They each support the ‘get tough’ attitude of the other, whichever of them is in power and they have been doing this for decades. They do this based on the notation that we need to be kept safe from “illegal immigrants” and terrorists – and sometimes conflate the two groups. They promulgate the fear and then play to it. (more…)
March 17, 2016
Dark Emu – Black Seeds: agriculture or accident
175 pp, including index and extensive bibliography
Magabala Books 2014
Shortlisted: 2014 Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing
Bruce Pascoe is an extraordinary writer and he has crafted an extraordinary book. In Dark Emu he examines the history of Aboriginal relationships with the land as that history has been concocted over more than two centuries by European ‘invaders’. (more…)
March 7, 2016
We are living fearful lives. Our politicians are keeping us that way and the media are assisting them eagerly. Although we live in the ‘information age’, we are not given ready access to the information we need to make informed choices or to intelligently debate the issues that affect our lives. (more…)
March 5, 2016
University of Queensland Press 2015
This wonderful novel by Tony Birch is like the river itself. It often flows gently, within defined banks, and occasionally overflows in violent flood, destructive and uncaring. In this, the river could be considered as the main character, around which the other characters ebb and flow.
The (other) main characters, viewed from the human perspective, are Ren and Sonny, two twelve-year-old boys living next door to each other in the Richmond area of Melbourne, near the Yarra River around the 1960s to ’70s. Sony is a bit like the uprooted trees that occasionally career down the river, a potential hazard. Ren becomes his best friend and tries to buffer Sonny’s behaviour. (more…)
Clancy Tucker Publishing 2015
Clancy Tucker has written a delightful story of a teenage girl overcoming adversity. Rida is an immigrant, a Muslim, and is bullied at school because of the way she looks and because she is regarded as a nerd. She doesn’t fit in because she stands out. In the process of trying to avoid her tormentors, she meets people who assist her in unexpected ways.
Rida also meets Ky, another girl who doesn’t fit in and who has a secret that eventually turns Rida’s life around completely. This is a narrative very much of our time, dealing with issues of xenophobia and prejudice and how various people deal with these. (more…)
Between You and Me : confessions of a comma queen
203 pp plus index, notes and bibliography
Text Publishing 2015
Much as I love delving into language and grammar, I would not ordinarily pick up an autobiography of a copy editor; but the subtitle grabbed my attention and piqued my interest.
This is not so much an autobiography as a collection of anecdotes and accounts of those who work in this field, sprinkled with examples of good and bad use of language and its grammar with an ultimate shrug of the shoulders, as if to say: Who gives a flying duck? The ebb and flow of this entertaining work reminds me of the writings of Bill Bryson – musings more than exposition. (more…)
February 19, 2016
If printed books disappear, what will happen when the lights go out – when we can no longer run our computers? Will we have anything to read? Will there still be anyone who knows how to read and will anyone still be able to write? Will the profession of scribe be resurrected? (more…)
January 30, 2016
The first wave of foreign insurgents onto a large island continent lying between the Indian and Pacific Oceans in 1788 can be examined as a metaphor for the dire straits all life on earth finds itself in today.
The passengers and crew of those eleven ships came from a society that considered the ‘great unknown continent’ to be empty and ripe for exploitation. There was a disregard for the existing inhabitants and their culture, as well as for the land with which those inhabitants were intimately and inextricably bound. The foreigners manipulated the official record so that they could consider themselves as having come into a vast land with unlimited resources, in relation to which there were no competing interests. (more…)
January 17, 2016
“What’s in a name?” Call a rose a squirrel, it will smell the same. Or will it? Would my preconceived idea of what a squirrel smells like – I’ve never smelled one – change my experience of the flower’s scent? Was Shakespeare wrong? (more…)