Books & Writing



Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of the emergence of Cliff Hardy, the Sydney private detective created by Peter Corris.

To celebrate and commemorate, his publisher Allen & Unwin s releasing SEE YOU AT THE TOXTETH, the best of the Cliff Hardy short stories as selected by Jean Bedford.

Hardy proved true to his name, hero to forty-two books and countless stories.
Hard to imagine the first Cliff Hardy novel, The Dying Trade was made an orphan when the American publisher McGraw-Hill cancelled ts Australian fiction list.

Happily, it got positive reviews from all quarters and was picked up, along with the next two in the series, as a paperback by Pan, and later by Allen & Unwin, and the rest, as they say is history.

Historically, the Hardy novels and short stories can be seen as a renaissance of the home grown crime novel and opened up critical acclaim and public appetite, an appetite that was insatiable, an appetite that Corris was happy to feed.

The prodigious output and unfaltering quality of writing earned him the title ‘the Godfather of Australian Crime’, senior statesman in the genre he was instrumental in resuscitating, if not resurrecting.

Creating a credible, endearing and enduring character like Cliff was only ever part of the equation. The sense of place was always meticulous and revealing. As R.S. Brissenden wrote in The National Times, “Corris’ presentation of Sydney – blowsy, rough, vital and corrupt, but still sprawling indolent and beautiful, is one of the most distinct and satisfying things in his fiction.”

Diving into the dozen stories selected here, spanning the period 1984 to 2007, the blowsy, rough, vitality of Sydney is there in all its sprawling beauty.

Further celebrating Corris’ coruscation, SEE YOU AT THE TOXTETH also contains a selection of his columns, along with his ABC of Crime Writing, a miscellany of mayhem, an index of detection and deduction, a compendium of crime, stock, plot and two smoking barrels.

SEE YOU AT THE TOXTETH by Peter Corris, selected by Jean Bedford is published by Allen & Unwin.



In its annual Honouring Australian Writers series, Writing NSW pays tribute to writers who have made an important contribution to our literary culture.

This year Writing NSW honours Sumner Locke Elliott (1917-1991), internationally best-selling author, playwright, and scriptwriter. Elliott is best known for Careful, He Might Hear You, which won the 1963 Miles Franklin Award and was adapted into the 1983 film.

The event will include conversations, readings, and archival material. Sharon Clarke, Kimball Knuckey, Margaret Fink and Walter Mason will be speaking on the life and work of Sumner Locke Elliott.


Saturday 17th August | 2:30-4:00pm

Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW

Free entry | RSVP required

Tickets are available via Eventbrite.

Speakers include:

Sharon Clarke is an academic and a writer who recently moved house from Sydney to the NSW south coast.  She gained her BA (Hons) and Ph.D. at University of Wollongong and was the Academic Director of Boston University Sydney Programs for over 20 years until she began the road to retirement in January 2017. Her authorised biography of Sumner Locke Elliott was published in 1996 and short-listed for the inaugural Australian Biography Award.

Kim Knuckey is a Sydney actor and director with a keen interest in the stage work of Sumner Locke Elliott.  He compiled an event for New Theatre which celebrated Locke Elliott’s most famous (and notorious) play, Rusty Bugles.  Knuckey has been acting in Sydney, Melbourne and the UK for 30 years. Kim was in the films The Great GatsbyA Few Best Men and Don’t Tell.  He is the ineffectual local policeman in ABC tv’s Rosehaven and was in ABC’s Rain Shadow and Kokoda.

Margaret Fink is an Australian film producer, noted for her important role in the revival of Australian cinema in the 1970s. Her productions include The Removalists (1975), My Brilliant Career (1979), For Love Alone (1986), Edens Lost (1988) (for TV), and Candy (2006).

Walter Mason is the author of Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia. He is the Vice President of the NSW Dickens Society and a well-known travel writer and speaker. Walter is also a popular teacher of writing, mindfulness and creativity. As well as leading tours to Vietnam, Walter teaches Cambodian, Vietnamese and Buddhist history.





Consider yourself kidnapped, held hostage, spirited away, your time ransomed.

Welcome to JOE COUNTRY where you are kept captive by a compulsively readable narrative that sweeps in like a rattlesnake and fangs it for over four hundred fabulous pages.

The sixth in the series of so called Slow Horses thrillers, JOE COUNTRY starts ominously with the death of operatives that have so far managed to survive the series. Their identities are kept secret, however, another layer of suspense heaped on by author Mick Herron, that wicked agent of insomnia and page turning acceleration.

The surging confidence in its storytelling swathed in bright shafts of dry wit makes JOE COUNTRY the equal of its predecessors, a sustained and seething thriller that walks both sides of Spook Street on a tightrope of intrigue, espionage and subterfuge.

I could divulge the plot but then you would have to kill me for spoiling the exhilarating thrill of the story, a narrative that capers, strides, bucks and gallops through every provocative page, peppered with acerbic, sometimes appallingly politically incorrect diatribes by the Slow Horses squadron leader, the incongruously named, Jackson Lamb.

Lamb leads to the slaughter any vestige of sensitivity to his employees, his diatribes unfiltered truth serums roughly injected by needle sharp invective.

In JOE COUNTRY, the bread of espionage is leavened with the circuses of violent spectacle, hazard seasoned with humour, real world politik enlivened with a pervasive imagination.

The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is an annual award given by the British Crime Writers’ Association for best thriller of the year. It is given to a title that fits the broadest definition of the thriller novel; these can be set in any period and include, but are not limited to, spy fiction and/or action/ adventure stories. Ian Fleming said there was one essential criterion for a good thriller – that “one simply has to turn the pages”; this is one of the main characteristics that the judges will be looking for.

Judges look no further.

JOE COUNTRY by MICK HERRON is published by John Murray.


This is a fascinating ,enthralling book extensively researched and vividly written by renowned dance critic and journalist Valerie Lawson . Lawson uses letters, interviews and personal anecdotes from dancers, directors, impresarios , producers, and critics to bring the history and characters alive . The horrendous drain of one night stands on the exhausting long tours ! The backstage scandals and dramas!

With a forward by David McAllister of the Australian Ballet , and a well laid out table of contents , the book while large and heavy is beautifully illustrated and also includes a terrific bibliography and helpful index at the back .

The preface briefly acknowledges the very early history of ballet in Australia but the book really begins with the tours of the famous Anna Pavlova ( with her signature solo ‘The Dying Swan’) in 1926 and then her 1929 tour, where the Taits and JC Williamsons ( ‘The Firm’ ) first feature and we learn how she influenced a young Robert Helpmann. The merits (or lack of) the ballets presented are discussed. Continue reading DANCING UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKIES BY VALERIE LAWSON


The event is featuring slam veteran and co-founder of Enough Said Poetry Slam in Wollongong Lorin Elizabeth, as well as local writer and regular attendee,Annette Arany.

Poetry slam host Elliot York Cameron founded the event last July as an opportunity for anybody to share their creativity in front of a live and engaged audience – regardless of age, background, ability or skill level.

“The Narellan Slam is entirely necessary. It enriches the community around it in the most genuine way,” says Bilal Hafda, co-organiser of Bankstown PoetrySlam and creative writing teacher.

Bilal featured at the slam in April, and believes, “Elliot has cultivated a space that lets poets, young and old, feel accepted and supported and listened to.”

As the event has grown month-to-month, writers have travelled from every corner of the Sydney surrounds, from Gosford to Wollongong to Bondi to Picton.

Bowral High School’s acting-Deputy Principal, Sam Schroder, first attended last year to watch her son perform. She decided to give it a go herself and quickly found a love for the art form.

“In 15 years of teaching, I’ve always struggled to show teenagers how poetry is relevant to their lives. Then, a year ago, I went to Narellan Poetry Slam, and everything changed.”

Sam went on to compete in the 2018 Australian Poetry Slam and made it all the way to the NSW Final at Customs House, Sydney. “Now my students come along, to perform, to see me perform, to snap for other performers who represent all ages and interests. Poetry slams are where it’s at.”

The event has featured established guest poets such as Australian Poetry Slam National Champions Philip WilcoxArielle Cottingham and Jesse Oliver, plus Filipina poet and teaching artist Eunice Andrada.

Eunice featured at Narellan Poetry Slam in May, and believes the slam, “carves out such a necessary space for representation and community-building … It’s wonderful to continue seeing the ways people are both challenged and nurtured by this space for sharing poetry.”

Eunice received the 2018 Anne Elder Award for her collection Flood Damages (Giramondo Books), available at Harry Hartog Bookseller.

Narellan Poetry Slam is held on the second last Tuesday of each month at Harry Hartog Bookseller in Narellan Town Centre. In addition, there is a monthly capacity-building workshop for poets the Tuesday prior to the slam.

“The Narellan Poetry Slam continues to grow as a valued cultural event in Sydney with contestants travelling from afar to participate. It’s a wonderful community event and Harry Hartog Narellan is proud to host it,” says Harry Hartog Director David Berkelouw.

To sign up for the slam, or more information, call (02) 4648 2211 or email


Narellan Poetry Slam
Harry Hartog Bookseller
Shop T201-202 Narellan Town Centre
Camden Valley Way, Narellan NSW 2567

Date: Tuesday 23 July, 2019
6:30pm for a 7:00pm start – 9pm

Tickets available here

Featured photo by Jules Centauri


Warning to the Glutton Intolerant: CHARLES FIRTH’S FRACTURED FAIRY TALES is not glutton free, with conspicuous consumption and capitalist exploitation at the fore of Firth’s fables.

Twee to the point of deedledum, CHARLES FIRTH’S FRACTURED FAIRY TALES comes with a caveat emptor on the disclaimer page: The paper in this book is 100% sourced from re-used soiled toilet paper, to better match the quality of the comedy throughout.”

You have been warned.

Firth goes forth with a fifth, making up five tales with nary a fairy in sight. More correctly, in this case, politically correctly, Firth’s five are folk tales, ancestral to Aesop, and, like the ancient, written with political and social criticism.

They’re also a little bit Grimm.

The Boy Who Wanted A Friend is a sober story about cyber space and social media, the fatuous fallacy of “friending” and the mammoth privacy issues of metadata as individuals face the monoliths of government, bureaucracies and multi nationals.

Gold Child and the Bear Family bares the unbelievable fact that females bear the brunt of domestic work and salary disparity.

The One Bad Prince is a Me Too tale that tackles toxic male behaviour.

And both Mr. Archimedes Bath and The Handsome Troll & The Ugly Professor set their sights on climate change.

Illustriously illustrated by Rania Mahmoud, Glitchfool, Chiara Corradet and Sabdo “Oketoon”, CHARLES FIRTH’S FRACTURED FAIRY TALES are, in the words of editor, Cam Smith, “parables so unbelievable, so clearly made up, you’ll be unable to resist believing them.”

Perfect as a politically correct stocking filler in the rampantly retail fuelled, capitalist exploitative fractured festivity of Christmas in July, CHARLES FIRTH’S FRACTURED FAIRY TALES is published by The Chaser Quarterly, printed, bound, gagged and left unconscious on a popular hiking trail by Spotpress.


“Magnificent cunt! How are you doing?”

It’s a term of endearment from a Serbian mercenary to ex MI-Sixer Paul Samson in Henry Porter’s latest spy yarn, WHITE HOT SILENCE, a lingua franca illustrative of Porter’s ear for dialogue in an English as second language Europe.

Timely and terrific, WHITE HOT SILENCE speaks with a white hot eloquence about modern espionage and the masked continuation, evolution and elevation of the Cold War.

The Soviet Union may have dissolved and the Berlin Wall dismantled, but the Russians are still playing geopolitical chess with the West in a game of high stakes and unwilling pawns.

Kicking off with a kidnapping in Calabria, WHITE HOT SILENCE catapults the action into the high seas with ping ponging intrigue on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cyber sourcing intelligence is de rigeur in 21st century espionage, but tried and true traditional trade craft is still employed with agents in place and blunt instrument practice deployed.

WHITE HOT SILENCE is dense in description and extrapolation delivered in sprawling chapters that are sagas in themselves, which makes the action even more explosive when it comes.

Paul Samson is a credible protagonist, former secret servant of Her Majesty now private sector security sleuth, part time restaurateur and heavily in debt gambler.

Abducted aid worker, Anastasia Christakos is an admirable creation, a great gumption and colossal compassion fused into a formidable force of nature.

Gripping in guile and dripping in vile, the central villain of the piece is Kirill, incensed at the loss of the soviet empire, intent on destabilising the west by use of social media and inflammation of racism.

Reading like exciting fact, WHITE HOT SILENCE, grips the reader with a taut, suave, sensual stranglehold from the beginning and never lets go through a capering 438 pages.

WHITE HOT SILENCE by Henry Porter is published by Quercus



This is the story of one of the world’s most iconic images. Martin Bailey explains why Van Gogh painted a series of still lives in Provence. He then explores the subsequent adventures of the seven paintings, and their continuing influence on modern art. Through the Sunflowers, we gain fresh insights into Van Gogh’s life and his path towards fame. Based on original research, the book is packed with discoveries – throwing new light on the legendary artist.

In 1888 Van Gogh left for Provence to settle in Arles. That summer he produced what would become his most iconic  works, a series of four sunflower still lifes, with bouquets of three, six, fourteen and fifteen flowers in simple earthenware pots. The two final pictures, the large bouquets set against turquoise and yellow backgrounds are famous- but the first two, Three Sunflowers and Six Sunflowers can almost be described as the ‘unknown’ Sunflowers. One left Europe for Japan in 1920 and was destroyed during the Second World War. The other has always been hidden away in private collections and was last exhibited, briefly, in 1948. Continue reading THE SUNFLOWERS ARE MINE : THE STORY OF VAN GOGH’S MASTERPIECE


Following on from Sherlock Holmes The Australian Casebook published in 2017 , this is a fast paced ,grippingly written assortment of twelves short stories based on the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, some of which are strange, bizarre and disturbing , blending Homes’ cold factual deductive reasoning and the supernatural and spooky. It is edited by Christopher Sequeira and has a forward by Leslie S Klinger.

A handy table of contents is available at the front and at the back there is a biography of all the contributors from around the globe. The cover design is by Luke Spooner and an illustration by Phillip Cornell of the Sydney Passengers is also included. Breaks in the stories are indicated by an image of a Meerschaum pipe.

A common theme is the letter M ( both for Mycroft and Moriarty for example ) but also Holmes’ other possible tenants who were different Doctors to Watson : including a Dr Mabuse.  Much supernatural and philosophical debate arises from the revelations in Curtain Call. Yes, Moriarty is back in various guises. There are time travelling stories (Holmes and Dr Dee of Elizabeth 1’s time ), stories set possibly in different dimensions, and ones for example where Holmes and /or Watson are military people . Holmes also works in one story with Conan Doyle. There is a fascinating story with Holmes and Dr Jeckyll/Mr Hyde. Continue reading SHERLOCK HOLMES AND DOCTOR WAS NOT


Hemingway said there is no companion as loyal as a book and, while his irascibility may have biased him, he could be right in the case of Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City. To pick up this book in the midst of your own solitary introduction to New York City is a great comfort; Laing’s “adventures in the art of being alone” is an ode to urban alienation, casting New York City as its muse and art as antidote.

Laing is honest and candid about what brought her to New York (the promise of a new relationship that had failed before even getting there) and then the oppressive sense of loneliness that deflated her once she arrived. Laing’s descriptions of the mundane, depressing rituals of solitary apartment life in the city and the shameful hunger of loneliness conjure the kind of pleasant surprise one feels at the discovery that, hey, our experiences are not just our own. There is reassurance in universality. Continue reading OLIVIA LAING : THE LONELY CITY : ADVENTURES IN THE ART OF BEING ALONE


Malla Nunn burst onto the literary scene a little over a decade ago with a brace of historical crime novels featuring exotic copper Emmanuel Cooper.

Nunn’s latest novel, WHEN THE GROUND IS HARD, jettisons detective fiction in favour of a flavoursome coming of age story set in a boarding school in Swaziland.

Taking its title from an African proverb, “When the ground is hard, the women dance.”, the novel centres on the struggle of sixteen year old Adele Joubert, a coloured girl sired by a white man, pitted against pitiless prejudice.

The three tiers of racist tribalism are tackled here – the whites, the coloureds and the blacks – against a background of boarding school bitches and the inherent totem pole pecking order that prevails in any peer pressure cooker.

Taken down a peg or two in the Heathers-like hierarchy of the student status system, Adele is forced to forge an unlikely alliance with Lottie Diamond, a Zulu-Jew, fiercely intelligent and a risk taker, although not reckless.

Nunn’s rendering of this friendship from foundation to framework to edifice is the beautiful spine of the story, a vertebrae that supports the supple flesh of events and situation.

Nunn’s understanding of race, class, gender and culture pervade every page in a pleasing, well paced prose.

Her characters are so vividly drawn they are quickly deposited into the reader’s image bank, as is the description of place and depiction of tone.

WHEN THE GROUND IS HARD may not be a police procedural but Nunn still strays into the mystery genre as the narrative snakes its way into the disappearance of a boy on campus and Adele and her new found friend, Lottie, turn sleuth to solve the absence of a heart grown darker – absconded, abducted, or assassinated?

Death, cruelty and pain are the hard ground that we stand on, says the narrator, the ground itself can’t be replaced but it can be changed. Adele and Lottie see that the ground is too hard and they strive to change it.

WHEN THE GROUND IS HARD by Malla Nunn is published by Allen & Unwin


Independent arts publicist GEOFF SIRMAI
explains why social media is not ‘publicity’

How often have I seen it? A theatre producer arrives at the foyer for opening night, visits the box office, checks out the bookings, then goes pale.

Panicked, he or she opens their smart phone, looks at their Facebook page, checks the ‘event’, checks the ‘group’ then looks back at the bookings.

Then they do a very theatrical double-take.

Finally, in tragic tones of Shakespearean dimensions (and shaking their fist at the heavens – or is it the virtual ether above?), they shout “But they all said they were coming on Facebook!”                      Continue reading PRODUCERS PLEASE NOTE : FB IS NOT PR!


Even in today’s advertising and media worlds the housewife mother (and occasionally father) is perfectly groomed, unflappable in a clean, gleaming kitchen with perfectly behaved children.  Like young women who feel inadequate when viewing airbrushed glamazons many mothers feel guilty when the kitchen is in a mess, and the lounge and bedrooms are in disarray, despite the fact that feminists were declaring that the sign of a tidy house is a sign of a wasted mind.

Jessica Rowe’s book confounds the advertising and media norms and proudly admits that she is a crap housewife wearing the appellation as a badge of honour. Like many anti self help books such as How Not To Give A F-K, Continue reading JESSICA ROWE : DIARY OF A CRAP HOUSEWIFE


Ashleigh Wilson’s essay ON ARTISTS is a pain in the arts.

Wilson quotes George Orwell- “If Shakespeare returned to Earth tomorrow and if it were found out that his favourite recreation was raping little girls in railway carriages, we should not tell him to go ahead with it on the ground that he might write another King Lear.”

No. We would incarcerated the dastardly Bard like we would any criminal and he would write another masterpiece in jail. Artists are not above the law and artistic temperament is not a defence against abusive behaviour.

At a basic level its impossible to detach the artist from the art. As long as humans are making art, then the context of their lives influences the work they produce. But how can we measure the extent of that influence?

Art by its very nature emphasises the strengths of the talent as well as the flaws in the character. It is the perversions or predatory proclivity not the performance or art that are abhorrent.

Wilson also quotes Rachel Campbell-Johnston, chef art critic for the times – “it remains the duty of a civilised society to preserve art works that reveal our human nature – even with its worst flaws.”

Should Spacey be expunged from his body of work, made give back his Oscars?

Should Wagner be proscribed in Israel because of apparent anti-Semetic leanings?

This is part of a much older discussion about the nature of aesthetic judgement. When the German philosopher Immanuel Kant described the conditions by which we evaluate the beauty of “an object or a kind of representation” in his aesthetic treatise of 1790,The Critique of Judgement, he stipulated the essential quality of “disinterestedness.”

Disinterestedness is the attitude that permits us to assess work without the influence of an internal agenda or external interference—a requirement, in other words, that we understand a work of art purely on its own terms, unmarred by historical precedent, biographical detail, political, social or moral implication. If Kant were alive today, he would probably argue that only the work matters—not the men behind it, or their deeds.

ON ARTISTS by Ashleigh Wilson is published by Melbourne University Press.


The Sydney Writer’s Festival is coming to a close this weekend.

Each year, Sydney Writers’ Festival presents more than 300 events, attracting audiences of up to 100,000 for a week-long conversation of books and ideas. From 29 April to 5 May 2019, thousands of readers and hundreds of writers come together at the Festival hub at Carriageworks and venues across the city such as Sydney Town Hall and City Recital Hall.

The Festival programs some of the world’s most curious and compassionate, irreverent but respectful, intelligent and argumentative writers – from local and international contemporary novelists, screenwriters, musicians and writers of cutting-edge nonfiction, to some of the world’s leading public intellectuals, scientists and journalists. With the finest writing and storytelling at its core, the programming is driven by the ideas and issues that animate all types of literature.

The Festival is a not-for-profit organisation, and as such its aim is to be accessible to a wide range of audiences. This objective sees the Festival present many events for free during the May Festival, and was behind the launch of the Live and Local program in 2015.

Writers who have appeared this year include Richard Ackland, Monica Attard, Anna Broinowski, Julian Burnside, Jennifer Byrne, Louise Adler, Leigh Sales, Annabel Crabb and many other Australian and international writers.

Featured image- Glory Edimi and Tayari Jones at the Sydney Writer’s Festival


Does Robert De Niro play golf? On principle, he probably proscribes the putting and Penfold 7s , seeing how totally opposed he is to the golfing megalomaniac Donald Trump.

Bobby will probably like a new book out that seeks to explain Trump though.
Titled, COMMANDER IN CHEAT, it’s a scathing and insightful look at the current leader of the free world and self proclaimed leader boarder of the fairway.

Rick Reilly, a veteran writer for Sports Illustrated and ESPN and eleven times voted National Sportswriter of the Year, tees off with Trumps personal view of the game before chipping in to his professional interests.

Trump, it has to be said, has talents and skills as a golfer, but his achievements as a champion have been exaggerated no less truly by the man himself.

Like Auric Goldfinger, Trump likes to win, and cheating on the fairway is, to him, a fair way to win. Like Auric Goldfinger, Trump also owns most of the courses he claims club championship of.

With so much foozling, it’s bamboozling his score card is so low. For Trump it truly seems a case of different strokes for different folks.

And then there’s foreign policy.

Why did Trump turn his back on Puerto Rico after the 2017 hurricane?
Why wasn’t Indonesia on the travel ban list? or the UAE or Saudi Arabia.
Why reverse the Cuban travel relaxation set up by Obama?

Golf is the answer.

In page after page, Reilly illustrates how Trump tramples the etiquette of the game. A cad to caddies, coarse on the course, the bogeyman of the bogey, Trump appears to be an A hole in one.

Reilly writes: “You cant kick and throw and foozle your way through a presidency. You cant cheat and fudge and fake running the world, for one good reason: You don’t own the course.”

COMMANDER IN CHEAT by Rick Reilly is published by Headline.


It’s on. It’s been called. May 18 we go to the polls for a Federal Election, the main event stoush between ScoMo and BilSho and you won’t want to be without the inadmissible highly risible OFFICIAL GUIDE TO ELECTION 2019.
Created by The Chaser Quarterly and The Shove, OFFICIAL GUIDE TO ELECTION 2019 is a truth telling title like no other. Succinct. Unpretentious. Telling it like it is. Calling the Scots, Shorten the odds with this comprehensive piss-take on a federal shit-fight.
Written by The Chaser Quarterly’s Charles Firth and The Shovel’s James Schloeffel, with contributions from Australia’s best comedy writers, it’s the definitive guide to the disaster that is Australian politics – just in time for the May election.

Including profiles of all 150 federal electorates (yes, they actually researched every single fucking one), an analysis on where the leaders stand on the key issues, and a handy step-by-step guide for drawing a cock and balls on your ballot paper, it’s the only book voters will need to fully misinform themselves.

The 100-page guide includes explainers about all the major themes in the election, including:
The Top 5 Prime Ministers of the Past 3 years
How It All Falls Apart: Labor’s plan for the first 100 days
A complete guide to our favourite National Party sex scandals so far this year
An overview of Australia’s micro parties (including Bill Shorten’s 21st birthday)
A handy Liberal Party Application Form for “Females”

Plus in-depth features:
Know your electorate. All the other guides will tell you the swings and demographics of the seats. Only The Official* 2019 Election Guide tells you which electorate has the most criminals (yep, it’s Wentworth).
Commentary from your favourite columnists: Andrew Bolt on why the obvious choice this election is Tony Abbott, Peter Credlin on why things were better when she was PM and The Guardian on why your election-night guacamole dip is not as ethical as you might think.
Quiz: Are You A One Nation MP? With all the comings and goings in One Nation, it’s hard to keep track of whether you’re a One Nation MP or not. Take our special quiz, and find out!

Last longer, feel more satisfied, this book will help you maintain an election for five weeks guaranteed.
But wait there’s more

The Chaser Quarterly & The Shovel Present:
It’s been more than 100 days since we had a new Prime Minister. Thank God the federal election is here!

The upcoming federal election promises to be full of suspense. Who will be the Liberal leader by then? How will Labor squander its unassailable lead? Will there be any National Party MPs not embroiled in sex scandals? What was the name of the Greens leader again?

Staged in the ‘National Tallyroom’, join Charles Firth (The Chaser), James Schloeffel (The Shovel), and Australia’s best television satirists, Mark Humphries (ABC-TV 7:30), Victoria Zerbst (SBS-TV The Feed) and Jenna Owen (SBS-TV The Feed) as they create all the drama of an election coverage live on stage, with none of the boring speeches.

Friday 26th April: Melbourne Alex Theatre, St Kilda
Saturday 27th April: Perth Astor Theatre
Friday 3rd May: Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre
Saturday 4th May: Canberra Playhouse
Thursday 9th May: Sydney Factory Theatre
Friday 10th May: Sydney Factory Theatre



At 104 Eileen Kramer has led an incredible life, some of which is vividly evoked in this book.

Born in Sydney in 1914, Kramer was an original member of Australia’s first modern dance company, the influential Bodenwieser Ballet, and has lived and danced everywhere from India to Paris, London and New York.

Eileen originally wanted to be an opera singer and studied at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney. She came to dance relatively late in life, joining the Bodenwieser Ballet company, Australia’s first professional modern dance company, in 1940.

Sue Healey has produced a short film entitled Eileen about Kramer and she is regarded as a National Treasure by the Arts Health Institute .

Kramer left Australia in the 1950s, performing around the world and meeting contemporary artists who have gone down in history as legends – for example Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. In fact,  Armstrong taught her the twist in Paris!

Having travelled around the world for 60 years. Eileen returned to Australia permanently in 2014 at the age of 99. She wanted to hear the sound of a kookaburra and smell the gum trees again.

This is a relatively small book lavishly illustrated with both black and white photos as well as bold, colourful drawings by Kramer.

The book is divided into thirty four chapters, with an introduction by Tracey Spring. Each chapter is about a specific memory of a person or particular event, mainly spanning the five years of her life as a young woman from 1936 to 1940 when she lived at or near Philip St

It is vividly written one feels as if Kramer is talking directly to the reader. The book is beautifully presented and includes a table of contents at the front, as well as a list of photo credits at the back. Sadly there is no index provided at the back.

The many people written about include Rosaleen Norton, who would go on to become the ‘Witch of Kings Cross’, the learned and rather enigmatic Joan, and the beautiful model, Ann. Life in the area is described , and how the cityscape has changed greatly.( Not to mention her battles with bedbugs).

There is also a marvellous word portrait of her landlady and others as well as the homeless men who inhabited the Domain ( the ‘Domain Dossers ‘ ).As well,  there is a segment on her mother working as a store detective at Farmers.

We learn about Kramer’s private life to a degree and her relationships with three men over time in particular – Dr Richard Want , Darley and painter Rah Fizelle.

Kramer became a professional artist’s model, sitting for Norman Lindsey and other modern painters of Sydney. (A glamorous black and white photo is included ).Eileen’s first boyfriend, Dr Want , was a Freudian psychoanalyst and they would spend their Sundays at the Art Gallery of NSW and Speakers Corner at the Domain.

Many dancers and theatre people from the 1930s and 1940s remember Sydney’s Phillip Street as a place where they lived, including ballerina Tamara Tchinarova Finch who lived in a Phillip Street apartment with her mother when they decided to stay in Australia in 1939 after the tour by the Covent Garden Russian Ballet.

Dance lovers will be tantalised by the mentions towards the end of the book about Kramer’s discovery of and work with Bodenweiser … but there is lots more to be said – perhaps expanded into a second book focusing on that major part of her life ? At 104 Kramer is perhaps the longest-working dancer and choreographer in Australia, if not the globe , still going strong and an enormous inspirational force.

Published by Melbourne Books
B format 139x210mm Hard cover with cloth quarter bind
206 pages colour illustrations throughout
RRP: AUD$39.95 ISBN: 9781925556391


Bill Bryson – Observations on Life and the Human Body

Best known for his wickedly sassy travel books, Bill Bryson undertook the gigantean task of providing a layman’s take on science in the best-selling A Short History of Nearly Everything. For the past three years Bill Bryson has been taking a good long look at the human body. The result – his latest soon-to- be-released tome The Body; A Guide for Occupants.

Bill Bryson returns to Australia and New Zealand in September for a series of stage events in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland, titled Bill Bryson – Observations on Life and the Human Body, Live on Stage, presented by Lateral Events. Tickets went on sale on Friday 1 March at 12 noon. Continue reading Bill Bryson – Observations on Life and the Human Body


Author Katherine Kovacic

Art dealer and accidental sleuth, Alex Clayton made quite a splash last year in her debut adventure, THE PORTRAIT OF MOLLY DEAN. A follow up caper was much anticipated and with PAINTING IN THE SHADOWS, author Katherine Kovacic has followed through.

Whereas THE PORTRAIT OF MOLLY DEAN was a split narrative between Melbourne in 1999 and Melbourne circa 1930, PAINTING IN THE SHADOWS follows a single narrative stream which provides a narrower palette.

The setting is the early 21st Century, a couple of years on from her previous adventure, and involves murder and forgery, an ancient curse and a little known Brett Whitely.

The curse belongs to Edwin Landseer’s Man Proposes, God Disposes, a grizzly polar bear painting that is damaged when a packer has a turn. Credence for the curse is consolidated when conservator Meredith Buchanan carks it while repairing the canvas.

Alex and her cohort, art conservator, John Porter want to know the why and wherefore of Meredith’s demise, and the questions come up with some blood stained answers, mingled in the mess of Alizarin Crimson.

A whodunit romp through the avarice and exploitation in the art world,
PAINTING IN THE SHADOWS wears its scholarship – both art and veterinary – with fine, light strokes.

Kovacic sheds light on Alex’s backstory and teases out more of her relationship with John. And there’s ample time with Alex’s pooch, Hogarth.

A study in nice people with nasty streaks, people who aren’t bad for nothing, PAINTING IN THE SHADOWS is a worthy sequel to The Portrait of Molly Dean, a stand alone plot-boiler but also a terrific teaser for a series to follow.

PAINTING IN THE SHADOWS by Katherine Kovacic is published by Echo


“There is a gap in Australian theatre history, which often leaps from the huge one-off success of Ray Lawler’s classic, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll in 1957 to the emergence, at the end of the 1960s, of the ‘New Wave” in Australian theatre, a period when Australian writing and a distinctive Australia style dominated local stages for the first time. Few commentators have paid any attention to the immediately preceding period, however: it is though artists of the New Wave swelled up from nowhere.”

So write Robyn Dalton and Laura Ginters, two commentators who give rightful and detailed attention to the decade that produced the architects of the New Wave, undergraduates and recent graduates of Sydney University who were transforming drama on campus and the wider community.

Their book, THE RIPPLES BEFORE THE NEW WAVE, is an informed and fascinating read, a sweeping saga of a massive swell of ambition, audacity and talent that powered the surge of creativity and cultural transformation we benefit from today.

The authors argue that this group had a bigger influence on Australian cultural life than any single group before or since, and when you see the roll call, there seems little doubt. Among their number are Clive James, Germaine Greer, Bruce Beresford, Robert Hughes, Mungo MacCallum, Madeleine St John, Les Murray, Bob Ellis, Eva Cox, Richard Brennan, Jill Kitson and Leo Schofield. Continue reading THE RIPPLES BEFORE THE NEW WAVE: DRAMA AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY 1957-63


Vitreous humour takes on a whole new definition in HUNTER, Jack Heath’s eye popping sequel to Hangman, the delicious debut of his anthropophagus shamus, Timothy Blake.

After severing ties with the FBI, Blake is currently employed as a body disposal agent for Charlie Warner, queen bee king pin crime boss of Houston, Texas. Blake’s biz is making evidence inadmissible by turning it edible.                  Continue reading HUNTER: SIZZLING SEQUEL TO HANGMAN


George Bernard Shaw, using Colonel Pickering as his mouthpiece in the play, Pygmalion, says: “There’s always something professional about doing a thing superlatively well.”
Guess that qualifies Thom Jones posthumous collection of stories, NIGHT TRAIN, professional.

These new and selected stories are superlatively well written, muscular, sinewy, tooth and claw ferocious, and sometimes, deeply, darkly hilarious.                    Continue reading NIGHT TRAIN: NEW & SELECTED STORIES BY THOM JONES