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Two Book Reviews

The following book reviews were written for The Weekend Australian back in 2016. For whatever reason — probably the fact that I didn’t file them on time — they were never published. I’m putting them out there now for posterity’s sake. From the review

Why read ‘The Flashman Papers’ today?

When George MacDonald Fraser sat down to pen Flashman, the first volume of what would eventually become a thirteen-book series known as ‘The Flashman Papers’, one doubts he knew how enduring his titular character would become. A minor figure in Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s

‘Saga Land’ brings Iceland’s historic stories to life

I didn’t know much about the Icelandic sagas—or indeed much about Iceland itself, as it turned out—before opening Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason’s Saga Land. I’d be surprised if I’m alone in learning something new in its pages. I’d made

Anthony Bourdain, the anti-foodie foodie

Did anyone see it coming? Did Anthony Bourdain himself? How did a man who made his name with a book that largely glamourised the swinging-dick bro culture of professional kitchens—a book whose cover showed him and a couple of other

Seeing both sides in Ken Burns’ ‘The Vietnam War’

The Vietnam War begins like so many Ken Burns films before it: by listing, in the inimitable voice of Burns’ go-to narrator Peter Coyote, a series of dichotomies that the ten-part, eighteen-hour behemoth will inevitably toggle between, and struggle with, for the

‘Bojack Horseman’s fourth season spins its wheels

In its four seasons on the air—or at least online, where the best stuff increasingly resides—Bojack Horseman has cemented itself as one of the best shows on television, animated or otherwise. There is almost too much that can be said for

Understanding Vivian Maier

The strange tale of Vivian Maier has been well rehearsed by now. It has been the subject of countless articles, innumerable gallery programs, two documentaries and at least one court case. For those who haven’t heard it before, it goes

A novel idea

A novel idea

Books , Criticism Jun 29, 2017

In her celebrated 2008 essay, ‘Two Paths for the Novel,’ Zadie Smith set out to define exactly what it said on the label. There was Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland, with its lyrical realism and “authentic story of a self,” and Tom