Articles By: Richard K

On John Kinsella’s Tide

John Kinsella’s new collection of short stories, Tide, begins with an acknowledgement of ‘the traditional owners and custodians of the land he [i.e. the author] writes’. Certainly Kinsella’s work can feel like part of the Australian landscape; with over thirty collections of poetry to his name, and many works of prose besides, the Perth-born writer is nothing if not conspicuous. […]

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A chat with the ABC’s Steve Austin

http://blogs.abc.net.au/files/richard-king-1.mp3

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Review: The Importance of Being Civil

In his stimulating book The Importance of Being Civil, John A. Hall tears a leaf from the street-fighter’s handbook and gets his retaliation in first. To those who will say that concepts such as decency have no place in a work of sociology, he insists that ‘civility is not sugary froth but an ideal of visceral importance’ and that ‘the […]

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Generation Ex

Considered in theoretical terms, the modern ideal of ‘marriage for love’ has never been more popular. In traditional societies such as India and China, arranged marriages (and certainly forced marriages) are less common than they used to be, while for many artists and activists in Muslim-majority communities the freedom to choose one’s life partner has become the emblem of freedom […]

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Review: Amanda Curtin’s Elemental

If the past is a foreign country, then Margaret Duthie Tulloch (‘Meggie’) is a traveller from a distant land. Indeed the narrator of Amanda Curtin’s splendid novel Elemental has led a life unimaginably different from the woman to whom her story is addressed. That woman is Meggie’s granddaughter, Laura, who in a hundred-page ‘Coda’ at the end of the book […]

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On the side of the Angels: A. C. Grayling

Of all the shady turns of phrase to have lodged themselves in the popular consciousness since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the term ‘Enlightenment fundamentalist’ is surely one of the shadiest. A version of the logical fallacy known as ‘the appeal to hypocrisy’, this ingenious bit of rhetorical jujitsu suggests that the enemies of religious obscurantism are no less intolerant […]

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Review: Two Cheers for Anarchism and How to Run a Country

‘Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice,’ declared Mikhail Bakunin in 1867, ‘[but] socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.’ This ideological double-bind is no less relevant to party politics as it is practised in contemporary Canberra as it was to what Eric Hobsbawm termed, in his book of the same name, ‘the age of extremes’. For notwithstanding the occasional […]

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Prophet of gloom

That the British philosopher John Gray shares his name with a US author of popular books on sex and relationships has always struck me as an unfortunate coincidence. Imagine a man who walks into his local bookstore looking for the latest offering from the author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1992) and walks out with a […]

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Operation Mosaic

On 3 October 1952, Great Britain detonated its first atomic bomb in an old navy frigate, the HMS Plym, anchored in the Montebello Islands off the north-west coast of Australia. Four years later, in 1956, it detonated two more bombs in the Montebello archipelago, fallout from which spread from Western Australia to Queensland’s inland and coastal towns and out over […]

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On Nicholson Baker’s The Way the World Works

‘I want to write a short book called The Way the World Works’, writes Nicholson Baker in a self-reflexive addendum to a short book called The Way the World Works, a collection of essays spanning fifteen years and containing such miscellaneous pieces as an apologia for pacifism, a tribute to the late John Updike, and a review of the ‘first-person […]

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