Editorial

Type
Editorial

children roast in the fires of this terrible century
and no love is enough no elegy sufficient

That’s regular Overland contributor Alison Croggon in her 1997 poem, ‘Ode to Walt Whitman’. Her words circulated on social media recently, at a time when the powerful seemed to have declared war on children.

Overland 216-cover
book
Type
Regular
Category
Writing

On length and literary merit

The jocular internet expression ‘Too long; didn’t read’ reflects the demands on our attention from an abundance of information. It’s an impatient dismissal of anyone who clutters up online space by using too many words to express themselves.

oblivion
Type
Regular
Category
Reading

On the right to oblivion

In English it’s called the right to be forgotten, but the French, who were the first to legislate it, call it le droit à l’oubli – the right to oblivion – evoking not just the state of being forgotten but also forgetting, not merely being overlooked but also ceasing to be.

Online soon. In the meantime, subscribe to Overland.
uk pale king sm
Type
Regular
Category
Reading

On ghosts

David Foster Wallace’s unfinished novel The Pale King appeared trailing clouds of hagiography when published in 2011. References to his suicide were frequent but circumspect, usually alluding to his use of anti-depressant medication, of which Foster Wallace himself was reportedly too ashamed to speak.

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cat sleeping
Type
Regular
Category
Culture

On intimate otherness

One morning in January, I woke up and thought: ‘Today, I absolutely must get a kitten.’ I don’t know what I’d been dreaming. It was one of those thoughts that comes out of the blue, with no idle trail of kitten-musings to warn me that felinophilia would strike me on that particular day. I rose with purpose and vim and made phone calls.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 9.22.39 am
Type
Article
Category
Politics
Writing

Why I write

A warning, before we begin. Most of the writing you’ll ever read on writing will try to persuade you that there is something about putting strings of words together that is very special indeed. Writing, you will be told, is the most human and enduring of the creative professions.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 5.59.53 pm
Type
Article
Category
Activism
Writing

Imagined worlds

A few years back, Chimamanda Adichie warned of the dangers of a single story. In her widely viewed TED Talk, Adichie laments writers’ tendency to fall back on cliché and generalisations, to reduce the richness of real lives to familiar and, in the case of Africa, often racist tropes.

writersblock
Type
Article
Category
Writing

On writer's block

There was a time in my early twenties when I found it excruciating to sit in front of the computer. As a teenager, I’d been excited to write, and stories had flowed from me freely. Then this, from nowhere.

Crystal Blitz photo
Type
Article
Category
Culture

The crystal blitz, 1981

I can see myself lying on the bed. I’ve been awake for days; I’ve lost track of time. I feel like I’m somebody else. I’m busy, busy pretending to forget who I used to be. The music inside my skull backgrounds everything I do, high frequencies standing up the hair on the back of my neck and turning my mouth dry as sandpaper.

Laos map
Type
Article
Category
Politics

Disappeared in Laos

The last time Ng Shui Meng saw her husband, Sombath Somphone, alive was early in the evening of Saturday, 15 December 2012. Sombath was driving his old jeep home. Shui Meng, who was travelling in her own vehicle in front of his, noticed him being stopped at a police post on Thadeua Road, a main thoroughfare in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

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Type
Article
Category
Culture
Politics
Writing

Migration, my nation!

Literature’s magical power has always been in its ability to name. This power – from Les Murray’s ‘This country is my mind’ all the way through to critiques of stereotyping – is a common ground over which conservatives and radicals quarrel, and it’s what has been done with these shared assumptions that I want to explore below.

Woodcock
Type
Article
Category
Activism
Politics

Hope dies last

Why, then, do Romani victims of the Holocaust remain peripheral to historical memory? Part of the answer is that majority populations in Europe continue to use Roma as a racialised scapegoat. In contemporary Australia, it is rightly considered offensive to refer to Jewish people by the derogatory terms used by the Nazi regime.

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Stephen Murray Smith
Type
Article
Category
Culture
Politics

Stephen’s vector

More positively, socialist realism was centrally concerned, as a Soviet ideologue put it, with promoting ‘revolutionary romanticism’, expressing in literature ‘the very soul of the proletariat, its passion and its love’.

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Fancy Cuts
Type
Fiction
Category
Writing

Fancy cuts: an introduction

The third of these Fancy Cuts is from Christos Tsiolkas, who needs no introduction to Overland readers. His story ‘Petals’ responds to Brian Gorman’s ‘Afternoon among flowers’, which first appeared in Overland 33 in December 1965.

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Type
Fiction

Petals

I am imprisoned. I am in here for three years. I am having to endure and more two years and three months. I don’t know if I can endure. I don’t speak. This is a curse and there is no reply to make back to a curse.

Fancy Cuts
Type
Fiction

Afternoon among flowers

He brushed the dirt from his cheek and sat back on his haunches to relieve the strain on the leg muscles. He dimly realised that the right leg would be numb and tingle when he stood up.

Joanna Anderson - Into the woods
Type
Fiction
Category
Writing

Into the woods

Some kind of pain, Jolene says as they hand her a baby still bloody and wet. Then, Perfect. A bit of blood marks Baby’s chin, or is it a beauty spot? Even that is perfect.

Safdar Ahmad- Jellyfish2
Type
Fiction

Jellyfish

Kandinski orbited through the kitchen, past the water cooler, past the toilet block, past Yang’s desk on the right – the carefully timed three-minute lap of the office’s gravitational path. He awarded himself another lap, a bonus for four cramped hours at his desk.

cracked-wall-580x460
Type
Poetry

A portable crush

Riding on such instruments as a large aluminium
hemisphere, syndicated falconry of gifts and predilections
propose dilutions of solemn music played through ploughs

gas-works
Type
Poetry

Goodbye to all that

Driving over Styx Creek, appropriately laden with heavy metal,
the TAFE maintaining a cold shoulder, where transgender trainee
librarians from Kurri, meet Penny Wong’s ex-speech writer,

Road
Type
Poetry

Wind shadow

Terra incognita transfers across a plain,
a wing blends the graces, tarmacs, macadam,
concrete being so concrete, the tar-sick travel.