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Ayaan Hirsi Ali – Nomad

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s convert-like zeal is both disturbing and delusional, writes Hilary McPhee… Nomad: A Personal Journey through the Clash of Civilizations By Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Fourth Estate, $35.00 Ayaan Hirsi Ali has brains and beauty and is a gift to those of us who like our prejudices confirmed. In Australia, where she returns regularly […]

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Yann Martel – Beatrice and Virgil

Beatrice and Virgil By Yann Martel, Text Publishing, $32.95 In a small room as white and brightly lit as an operating theatre, an antlered creature stands at bay, a beautiful commodity, a thing. Encrusted with large balls of acrylic and tiny crystal beads, it sparkles like a prize from a rich person’s treasure trove, a […]

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Glimpses of Heaven and Hell in Dubai

The 8th Wonder of the World had already been proclaimed well before the grand opening in Dubai of Atlantis – The Palm in November 2008. The thirteen acres of artificial palm-shaped archipelago jutting out into the shallow waters of the Arabian Gulf featured a 42 acre water park of 65,000 fish, the soon-to-be controversial Dolphin […]

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Deep Listening – three novels by M. J. Hyland

MJ Hyland This is How, Text Publishing (2009) How the Light Gets In (2003), Carry me Down (2006) I have women friends who say they cannot finish MJ Hyland because she cuts so close to the bone. The blind spots and casual cruelties of her families we can recognize, the unwitting neglect that only shows […]

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Library of Small Wonders

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2009/03/19/1237054999571.html Near Petra in Jordan is Beidha, a tiny village of featureless concrete houses but ringed by moonscape mountains beautiful beyond belief. People have lived there since Neolithic times, most recently the once nomadic Bedouin, their black and brown goat hair tents now mainly places of entertainment, their fine horses and camels for carrying tourists […]

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Stella Miles Franklin: A Biography by Jill Roe

When nineteen year old Stella Miles Franklin sent Henry Lawson the manuscript of My Brilliant Career, he recognized ‘a big thing’ – an Australian Story of an African Farm, he told George Robertson of Angus and Robertson. Olive Schreiner’s autobiographical novel had been an international sensation nearly twenty years earlier, and the Australian publisher still […]

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Who is Alex Miller?

‘Art cannot do the conceptual work we need if we are to understand ourselves,’ philosopher Rai Gaita said on air recently, arguing that moral clarity was best achieved by philosophical thinking. Hearing him speak of the danger of lucidity losing out to the seductions of literature, I wanted to ask if he had read Alex […]