Showing posts from November, 2019

The Shepherd's Hut

Tim Winton tells the story of The Shepherd’s Hut in the convincing vernacular of a wild boy on the run -- a young man lacking refinement, caught in circumstances beyond his control. In doing so, Winton conveys deep despair and a search for meaning and survival in the (coming) apocalypse. So far, the reviews have focused on the Christian parable in the story, as well as his treatment of masculinity. I read the novel as a post-apocalyptic tale, as bleak as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which at least had a father rather than a protective priest as the guide for the survivor in a fallen world.
The novel opens with Jaxie driving in a vehicle somewhere outback, alone ‘like [he is] in a fresh new world all slick and flat and easy … like you’re still on earth but you don’t hardly notice it anymore’ (3). Chapter 2 takes the reader back to ‘the day the old life ended’ (6) – when his father died and he hit the road, afraid to be blamed for the accident after years of abuse and violence at his fat…

Their Brilliant Careers

In her foreword to Ryan O’Neill’s Their Brilliant Careers, Anne Zoellner praises O’Neill’s ‘skill and empathy’ in rendering pen-portraits of ‘famous, infamous and forgotten’ Australian writers.
We are used to sporting stars speaking of themselves in the third person, but rarely do they get to invent a critic speaking on their behalf.
The condensed lives O’Neill recalls in these sixteen ‘biographies’ of invented Australian writers follows various literary traditions, including Nabokov’s playfulness -- Shannon Burn's suggests Pale Fire (1962) in her Sydney Review of Books article. Personally I remembered John Clarke. I’ve read a few of Clarke's pastiche-poems at some point – his website certainly suggests that they once existed:
‘For many years it was assumed that poetry came from England. Research now clearly demonstrates, however, that a great many of the world’s most famous poets were Australian. This project puts on record the wealth of imagery in Australian verse.’
The same…