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A first place

by David Malouf

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202896,240 (3.88)1
A collection of personal essays and writing from David Malouf to celebrate his 80th birthday. Topography, geography, history. Multiculturalism, referendums, the constitution and national occasions. Parental and grandparental romances, the sensual and bountiful beauty of Brisbane, the mysterious offerings of Queenslander houses, and leaving home. The idea of a nation and the heart of its people. Being Australian and Australia's relationship to the world. Putting ourselves on the map. All these subjects, and more, are explored from the generous, questioning and original perspective of David Malouf. At the heart of these pieces is the idea of home, where and what it is. What they illustrate is the formation of a man, an Australian and one of the best writers this country has produce.… (more)
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This is a strange grab bag of Malouf's non-fiction writing, released to mark his 80th birthday. Some of the pieces are slight, and the core material is really his Boyer lectures and his Quarterly Essay, both of which dwell on the history and character of Australia. Malouf is a thoughtful, exacting writer, combining lyrical, personal touches with incisive history and reasonably clear arguments, but the essays themselves had a consistent flaw. Malouf has a kind of rosy view of Australia and its British heritage that, while acknowledging the suffering of Indigenous people and the challenges faced by migrants, focusses more strongly on a kind of universal 'Australian experience'. This rosiness extended to the modern day, where sections of his lectures (from the late 90s) feel completely outdated in light of the bitter and ongoing arguments about the dreadful treatment of refugees.

Still, Malouf's writing on Australian history is fascinating and his personal reflections of the 1940s, 50s and 60s (particularly on the Brisbane of this era) are wonderful. There's a lot to enjoy here, but if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself dipping in and out rather than being entirely swept along. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
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added by aeclark | editThe Saturday Paper, GW (Feb 28, 2014)
 
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A collection of personal essays and writing from David Malouf to celebrate his 80th birthday. Topography, geography, history. Multiculturalism, referendums, the constitution and national occasions. Parental and grandparental romances, the sensual and bountiful beauty of Brisbane, the mysterious offerings of Queenslander houses, and leaving home. The idea of a nation and the heart of its people. Being Australian and Australia's relationship to the world. Putting ourselves on the map. All these subjects, and more, are explored from the generous, questioning and original perspective of David Malouf. At the heart of these pieces is the idea of home, where and what it is. What they illustrate is the formation of a man, an Australian and one of the best writers this country has produce.

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