Australian Book Review (ABR) magazine
‘Australian Book Review’ magazine
USD $11.36 per issue.
ABR website: home.vicnet.net.au/~abr
Official Blog: australianbookreviewblog.blogspot.com

Came across this magazine at the NLB Central Lending Library. The magazine has a friendly tone. Tries to make book reviews accessible yet doesn’t lose any ‘seriousness’. The books being reviewed are more literary and less mass-market, it seems to me. There are book reviews as well as feature pieces.

The best part of this issue for me was on p.19 – 29 (winner of the ‘Inaugural Calibre Prize’): “An die Nachgeborenen: For those who come after” by Elisabeth Holdsworth (featured on the cover of the magazine the author, Ms. Holdsworth, emailed me to clarify that the magazine cover featured a photograph of her mother; the photo was taken in 1942 before the author was born).

Story about an Australian citizen (of Dutch decent) who visits the Netherlands on a trip of nostalgia, revisiting the birthplace of her parents and grandparents, and tells a story of how they lived through WWII and the years after. Excellent story. Every paragraph of the story was quotable. I can’t describe what is “Powerful writing”. But reading this, I told myself, “This is powerful writing!”. From the last para of the story:

“Father’s sister, Tante Katrien, died in 2005 at the age of one hundred and five, still on active service to the House of Orange. She left me her titles and worldly goods, including the black pearls and boxes and boxes of memorabilia from eighty-five years of service to the royal family. In her will, Katrien referred to me, as she had always done, as het kind; the Nachgeborenen who wasn’t supposed to survive, much less to sing the songs of the past.”

There’s a mixed reviews of fiction & non-fictional works. The review & writing styles differ from reviewer to reviewer. Some articles were too high brow for my tastes. I thought the editor could’ve cut away the fluff (but what do i know? Heh). For some books, the reviews convinced me (perhaps unintended) not to read, esp where the plot didn’t sound like it’s worth my time hunting down the book let alone read.

P. 10 has a “two-reviews in one”, i.e. a review of two books: (1) “General Peter Cosgrove: My Story” by Peter Cosgrove; (2) “Cosgrove: Portrait of a leader” by Patrick Lindsey. The books were reviewed by Brian Matthews. It pointed out what’s good and some quirks of the books/ authors. Made me want to read the books.

Interesting quote on p.15, 2nd leg, Par 2 (review by Geoffrey Bolton, on the book “The Great Mistakes of Australian History”):

“But, as the cynic said, history, especially government policy which becomes the stuff of history, is made by people who seem never to have read any.”

p. 32 mentions the State Library of Victoria’s 3rd literary speed dating event.

Loved the featured poem on p. 43, “Graffiti”, about words on a wall in Pompeii. Excerpt from Lines 13 & 14:

The stucco of the city walls is everywhere
scratched with these piss-riddled importunities –

cover

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