George Orwell believed we should ignore most books and give very long reviews to the ones that matter. These days, most publications do the opposite, cramming as many short reviews (of as many books) as possible into a shrinking space.
The Long View is a series of ten luxuriously long review essays (up to 3000 words) on Australian writers and writing, by some of our best writers and critics. It puts Australian writers under the spotlight, and gives our critics the room to stretch out – and leap into the kinds of conversations about our literature they’ve always longed to have.
Through this series, we invite you to join the conversation about Australian writing – and hopefully discover some new passions or perspectives along the way.
In The Long View’s final essay, Estelle Tang delves into fictional portrayals of the child abuser: from Foal’s Bread to Lolita and Lilian’s Story. Approaching this complex, profoundly uncomfortable subject with nuance and sensitivity, Tang explores the moral conflicts of these stories, their telling and our quest to understand them.
Via Timothy Mo, Michelle de Kretser, Judith Beveridge, Felicity Castagna and Chi Vu, Nicholas Jose navigates the complexities of Australian Asian storytelling. In particular, he explores those unresolved dilemmas of multiculturalism: how should an author’s ethnicity influence our reading of a literary work? And how can something be both everyday and exotic at the same time?
Fiona McGregor profiles the crime writing of Peter Doyle; a man whose access to a recovered cache of NSW Police photography finds voice via the influence of cinematic narration, rock'n'roll and the rich urban life of Australia’s most populous city.
Benjamin Law writes a heartfelt, insightful appreciation of a much-loved Australian classic, Timothy Conigrave’s memoir Holding the Man. Both a love story and a story about losing your lover – and yourself – to HIV and then AIDS, Holding the Man is also a contemporary fairytale of sorts. As filmmaker Tony Ayres observed: ‘[Tim] met a boy when he was 15 and they stayed together until they died.’
Delia Falconer, an animal-lover, is curious about the way writers use animals to enrich their stories; the tricks they play with them. ‘Animals,’ she reflects, ‘have been keeping us unnerving company in our recent fiction.’ She looks at some recent Australian novels and also draws on sources as diverse as Kafka, Derrida, Kundera and Anna Krien’s provocative Quarterly Essay, Us and Them.
Tony Birch is currently shortlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin for his first novel, Blood. But he’s long been known and loved as a short-story writer, with two collections under his belt. Tony is a passionate advocate of the short form; here, he takes us on a journey through recent Australian collections, and takes the pulse of the short-story publishing scene in Australia.
Maria Tumarkin looks at the routine praise critics offer for ‘unsentimental’ writing, particularly when the writer is a woman. What is it that we’re really saying when we label a book ‘unsentimental’, she wonders – and why are we so quick and careful to say it?
Toni Jordan examines the humorous streak running through Australian fiction – from Carey to Coetzee, from crime to the comic novel – and celebrates the curious wonder of laugh-inducing writing.
Taking criticisms of Miles Franklin shortlists as his starting point, Geordie Williamson examines the relationship between urban and rural settings in modern Australian fiction. Defending stories about country Australia, he argues for a more nuanced understanding of – and attention to – place in literature.
Debuting The Long View, the first writer in our series is novelist and award-winning essayist Elisabeth Holdsworth, who takes a timely look at five beloved women of Australian letters.