Has anyone been reading the Australian Spectator? I still pick up a copy occasionally; the one I got yesterday was a mixture of Very Bad, the Rather Good, and the Extremely Strange.
The Very Bad: John Heard's review of the latest Australian Quarterly by David Malouf. The guy writes like he's been reading all of the best Catholic theologians, and taking their worst lines. It's good to hear from John again - he used to write the blog Dreadnought, but I stopped reading it and then apparently he stopped writing it - but he just doesn't seem to write well for the magazine format.
The Rather Good: notes by Peter Coleman* and Mark Latham. Coleman has been writing for years for Quadrant, where I admit I've found his writing a little dry, but always graceful. In his notes for the Spectator his writing is still dry - dryly witty, that is. They also have the interest of coming from a person with years of experience and knowledge amongst the Australian literati and political set. Latham's column, meanwhile, needs no explanation - as Labor leader Latham displayed a complete lack of morals and good taste, which of course are excellent journalistic qualifications. His column is extremely nasty, and extremely funny.
The Extremely Strange: Cory Bernadi's** Diary. (This is the diary column that is written by a different person for each edition of the Spectator - apparently the best person they could find this week is a policy hack from the Senate.) Even stranger - the article on Don Brash, branding him as 'Thatcher's Kiwi heir', inspiring the cover art for this issue, featuring, I kid you not, Thatcher in iron-plated armour and Union Jack swimming costume, lashing a rabid Don Brash onwards. WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA FOR A COVER? I feel a little ill...
Look, a lot of the pleasure I got out of The Spectator when I bought it regularly was because of its gossipy, insider quality - you had the daughter of the son of someone who was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1890 telling amusing and racy stories about things happening in the House of Commons bathroom, for instance. The Australian literati, and the Australian political classes, just can't muster up as much excitement, yet, perhaps because of the relative sizes of Australia and Britain. (The UK has a similar population size though it has much less space in which to spread that population.) Maybe the Australian Spectator still doesn't know what it wants to be - an imitation British magazine for Aussie Tories, or a supplement to the British magazine, or a combination of both, or something completely different?
*That link is to a previous column by Coleman, the current one doesn't seem to be online.
** Links to a boring political website for a boring politician.
Tim, your links stink, you fink!
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