peteg's blog - noise - books - 2011 01 01 McPhee Wordlines

Wordlines: Contemporary Australian Writing selected by Hilary McPhee

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Patchy, as all collections are. McPhee's introduction starts strong as she reflects on her return to Australia after three years in the Middle East; from the dust of Amman to being repelled by Australian "affluence, food fetishism and the politics of spin." I wish she'd kept on with that, as her summaries of the works of others contained herein are a bit pointless when they are so short and immediately available.

Not much really stood out for me, but I will be keeping an eye out for Drusilla Modjeska's Papuan novel when it's cooked — what's here is not quite enough to satisfy. Paul Mitchell struck a cord with his tale about the extra-suburban dwellers: those not in the cities and not in the bush, living neither a majoritarian or dead-Australia romantic life. The other pieces passed the time agreeably enough.

Melbourne is the vein for the whole thing. With all their education and cash, why aren't the bored housewives of Canberra writing this sort of stuff? I expect big things from this parental leave scheme.

Here's a longer review in The Australian.