Oct/Nov 2021

e c l e c t i c a   r e v i e w s  & 
i n t e r v i e w s

Reviews & Interviews

(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

Gregory Stephenson reviews...

by Jacques van Griethuysen

A secret, solitary surrealist, he sought neither attention nor recognition for his creations which came to number more than a thousand. Van Greithuysen also experimented with photo collages (examples of which are included in this collection). On only one occasion—persuaded to do so by a friend—did he consent to show his work in an exhibition held at the Galerie Pierre Vanderborght in Brussels in 1966. After his death in 1995, van Greithuysen's covert oeuvre might have been forever lost but for the efforts his son, Patrick van Greithuysen, who brought his father's work to the attention of Geert Verbeke and René van der Voort, both of whom responded with enthusiasm and admiration for the vitality, variety, and skillful renderings of this unknown artist's vision.

Ann Skea reviews...

Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship
by Catherine Raven

Raven's "roof-thumping" magpies also seem to display personality. They wake her early every morning by thumping on the steel roof and portico of her cottage. Knowing that "none of their biological obligations" required the use of her roof, she concludes they are thumping simply to annoy her.

The Great Forest and The Arbornaut
by David Lindenmayer and Meg Lowman, respectively

The contorted shapes of Snow Gums in sun and snow display the rich olive, salmon, and white colors of their bark. The tallest moss in the world grows on the forest floor; the eerie iridescent green of the Ghost Fungus lights up the night; and Mountain Brushtail Possums eat the hallucinogenic fungi growing on the trunks of Mountain Ash. The huge, soaring Mountain Ash, "the tallest flowering plant in the world," can reach 90-100 meters in height, and one archival photograph from 1933 shows all the inhabitants of the village of Fernshaw gathered around by the great girth (measured at 19.5 meters) of one of these giants, where they look like little elves in a fairy tale.

Once There Were Wolves
by Charlotte McConaghy

"I am a bad-tempered Australian who finds it hard to hide contempt and sucks at public speaking," she tells us when, with her colleagues, she is preparing facing a public meeting where there will be many people, especially the local sheep-farmers, who oppose the introduction of wolves. As the novel progresses, however, we come to know her better and learn what has made her so angry, but we also learn of her compassion and deep love of wolves.

Scary Monsters
by Michelle de Kretser

Lyle and Chanel have been able to afford a good education for their two children. They are proud of their daughter, Mel, who is now studying architecture in Chicago. However, she has declined their offer to pay for her to come home for Christmas, because she has let her friends think she grew up in New Zealand and "Being Australian is so, like, shameful. Everyone just assumes you're a racist, Islamophobic climate vandal and coffee snob."

Borges and Me
by Jay Parini

From then on, and much to Parini's annoyance, Borges frequently addresses him as "Sancho," Don Quixote's patient squire. Borges, like Quixote, is given to long rhetorical monologues. "Being blind, he talks a lot," Parini tells Bella. He finds him both fascinating and irritating, and he despairs of getting any work of his own done, but Borges' philosophy of life and literature, about which he has extensive knowledge and expounds at length, does interest him, and (clearly from this book) he learns a lot from it. At the same time, he is tasked with describing everything he sees in vivid and "poetic" terms as they drive, and this, too, has influenced his writing.