Category Archives: books to read before you die

formative fiction

Most writers can reel off a handful of titles of books they’d call formative, typically read for the first time during their teens. One of mine is Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë, a classic of incomparable passion despite no … Continue reading

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Challenging sacred cows

Humane is a confusingly versatile word. Lately, it’s featured in the Oz media, and beyond, with public outcries for humane treatment of refugees and our livestock exports. Re the former, just for starters, ‘humane’ would mean not incarcerating those who’ve … Continue reading

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Seasoned Thinking – Sydney Writers’ Festival 2014

LYNNE SEGAL: THE MARCH OF TIME May 23, 11.30am–12.30pm (‘Social activist, feminist, author and academic Lynne Segal turns her formidable gaze towards the thorny issue of aging. She discusses her new book Out of Time, which has garnered widespread acclaim.’) … Continue reading

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Does reading make you a better person?

Anyone in the business of handling unpublished manuscripts – assessors, slush-pile cullers, judges, editors – would agree that reading will make you a better writer. Not just reading for pleasure or to kill time, though, but critically, analytically: keeping an … Continue reading

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Hairy Tales

Ever since I first read The Bloody Chamber (1979), Angela Carter’s influential collection of repurposed fairytales, I’ve been alert to the genre’s potential for subversion. Those old tales that had most deeply impressed a much younger me transmit grim messages … Continue reading

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The Grammar of Dreams

I once heard a dream analyst speak of a weekly group he’d conducted, where attendees shared their dreams in depth. Yet, in eighteen years, none of them had ever reported a lucid dream. This stunned me. If not exactly common, … Continue reading

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Why I don’t read (much) Australian fiction

This month, a friend sent me a link to an out-of-date article, ‘What’s the story with Australian fiction?’ It looks, inconclusively (as such features tend to), at why we don’t embrace our own fiction writers. My friend, who incidentally seldom … Continue reading

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