peteg's blog - noise - books - 2009 03 07 GriffithReview22

Griffith Review #22: MoneySexPower (Summer 2008/2009)

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Here I am, finishing reading the summer's Griffith Review at the tail end of its shelf-life. I think I started back in November. While it is less patchy than last time's, on the whole it failed to grab me. The highlights:

  • Edwina Shaw's tale of teaching in a coughJuvenile Justice Centre, The heaviness of keys, is wryly amusing.
  • I missed the point of Jonathan Raban's Just two clicks, where the activities of a hitherto-unknown-to-me Neil Entwhistle are recounted and somewhat analysed. What the subject did was bizarre and perhaps inexplicable, but for Raban to close out the essay with a string of caveating maybes is weak. It is well written though.
  • Something for the weekend is Tony Barrell's potted history of Rupert's infamous shock rag News of the World, which I always thought specialised in alien abductions. I guess the sordid sells more.
  • Peter Ellingsen recounts his coverage of Tiananmen Square in his memoir China on my mind, reminding me of all that the modern newspaper fails to deliver.
  • In Love Thy Neighbour, Craig Scutt discusses Australia(n men)'s relationship with South East Asia, well, Thailand in one particular, and sexual in another. I think the excerpt in the SMAGE is the better piece as it contains more innuendo.
  • Mary-Rose MacColl was charged with reviewing maternity services in Queensland in the recent past, and her experiences and summary findings are recounted in The birth wars. I expect her book of the same title will make riveting reading for those with a specific interest in this topic.
  • Rachel Robertson's Bonus ruminates on how her mothering of her son, who has autism, defines her as a "carer", worthy of a cash bonus from the Federal Government, because she is "eligible". The art of this essay is to enliven what I'd usually find to be a tedious word-semantic game with life experiences and a style of societal analysis that lacks obnoxiousness. Perhaps the stand-out piece.
  • The "reportage", My Banker, by Wayne McLenan would have been better billed as "bullshit". It's a long and rambling account of a dodgy investment arrangement in Central America, and like a story in a pub, didn't coalesce and didn't end soon enough. The best bits are set in Europe. His weakest piece yet.
  • Charlie Stansfield's The Last Taboo artfully explores the fraught sexuality of people with severe disabilities, based on her experience as a professional in the disability sector, and with professionals in other sectors. Another stand-out.

I found it funny that so much of MoneySexPower was concerned with disability; I was expecting the majority of the articles to cover the topical Wall St big swinging master of the universe type-A's.