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Topic: history

Reading fiction is addictive and unhealthy, says Corn Flakes guy

I just came across this astonishing passage, quoted by John Fiske in Understanding Popular Culture. It’s from the Ladies Guide in Health and Disease by John Harvey Kellogg (yes, of Corn Flakes fame), published in 1882. There are also chapters on ‘marriage’, ‘personal beauty’, ‘diet’, clothing’, and, ah, ‘criminal abortion’. He says: ‘The reading of […]

Between worlds: Dominic Smith on Bright and Distant Shores

Allen & Unwin, 9781742374161, 2011 (Aus paperback, ebook + US/Kindle) Bright and Distant Shores is hugely imaginative historical fiction. It’s set just before the dawn of the 20th century in Chicago and the South Pacific. Owen Graves is sent by Hale Gray, the president of Chicago First Equitable, to collect some ‘special items’ to display […]

Extrapolations: stories re-imagined from the tangible, a guest post by Kent MacCarter

By Kent MacCarter In the preface on page six of Dupain’s Sydney, an art book featuring photographic plates of cityscapes, city dwellers and urban whatnot by acclaimed photographer Max Dupain, there is a photograph of the artist fussing with the aperture on his 4×5 large-format camera perched on a fully extended tripod. You can detect […]

The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps by Eric Hazan reviewed for Bookslut

My review of Eric Hazan’s The Invention of Paris: A History in Footsteps (translated by David Fernbach) can be found in the July issue of Bookslut. I completed the review while in Paris a few weeks ago. It begins: ‘I’m sitting in an apartment in the twelfth arrondissement of Paris, and because I’ve finished Eric […]

Ink, dust & darkness: Magpie Hall by Rachael King

Vintage (New Zealand, 2010/Kindle) 9781869792886 Rosemary, a vintage-dress-wearing tattooed taxidermist, decides to spend some time in her family’s run-down old manor Magpie Hall –  to work on her gothic literature thesis and simultaneously escape an affair with her supervisor. But there are plenty of distractions at Magpie Hall: memories of her recently deceased grandfather, her […]

Liveblogging from the zine fair: reader remnants; Adelaide; Format Fest

Hey gang, I’m sitting with Lisa Dempster and Caroline Hamilton (and right near lovely, cool zinesters panda and the fetus) at the zine fair on the final day of Adelaide’s rad Format Festival. I don’t even want to look up at all the tables as I spent far too much on second-hand books yesterday in […]

Meeting Alex Miller part one: on the origins of a contemporary story

Recently I interviewed Alex Miller about his new novel Lovesong  (Aus, US) for Readings Monthly. As many of you know, Miller is not only one of Australia’s finest authors, but he’s one of my personal favourites, so I took this wonderful opportunity to extend my conversation with him to his other works, as well as writing and life […]

In the end we all fade to black: a ‘responsive’ interview with Kathy Charles, author of Hollywood Ending

Kathy Charles’ debut novel Hollywood Ending was recently released in Australia by Text Publishing (John Belushi Is Dead, MTV Books, US). In my review for the October issue of Australian Book Review I said: ‘Kathy Charles creates a world both familiar and strange … Despite being highly, if darkly, entertaining, the book hints at deeper issues, such […]

A few moments of history, horror, and Kafka in Prague

This is an edited extract from an essay I am working on about my trip to Europe early this year. I have never seen buildings so old. The aged stone of Edinburgh or Venice, the disturbingly mismatched architecture of London, Oslo and Berlin. Ancient blackened churches rise out of the steel, gripping defiantly to tradition. The […]