editorial

Type
Editorial
Category
Writing

Overland is fundamentally committed to emerging writers. This edition features the winning entries from the Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize, the richest and most prestigious competition of its kind in Australia. They are introduced by Jennifer Mills, Overland’s incoming fiction editor, in a judge’s report offering a snapshot of the huge quantity of writing that was assessed.

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Type
Regular
Category
Writing

On not having a career

I often find it mildly hilarious when I read articles that talk of writing creatively as a ‘career’. This is purely personal: after three decades of making a precarious living through various kinds of writing, it’s impossible for me to look back over my own ‘career’ with anything but rueful amusement. But exhortations for the ‘author’ to become a ‘brand’ don’t make me laugh. They fill me with revulsion.

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Type
Article
Category
Culture
Writing

Scenes from a radical theatre

Imagine. You are young and have not yet forgotten that anything is possible. There is something bigger to believe in than your career prospects and your résumé, your future super dividends (as if you have any), your individual rung on the clichéd and fundamentally absurd ladder of fame and fortune.

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Type
Article
Category
Culture

Me and Pussy Riot

It’s about the romance, partly. What could be more romantic than the sight of three women – mothers of small children – on trial in a small glass box, flanked by police officers and a massive dog, surrounded by the state apparatus of Russia, with the remnants of the Iron Curtain knitting together to prove just as impenetrable as before?

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Type
Article
Category
Activism
Politics

The pessimism of time

Where are we, today? On the one hand: austerity measures, the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash and the attempt to dismantle whatever residual features of the welfare state remain. On the other: mass resistance in the form of occupations, strikes, riots, protests, a revival of interest in Marx, feminism, anti-racist and anti-fascist ideas and actions, and widespread cynicism about electoral politics.

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Type
Article
Category
Politics

‘You can’t dream’

I come to dread the phone calls. But, even when I am not there to take them, the messages haunt me. An ominous flashing light on my phone, a few buttons pressed; her ghostly voice, barely audible, in my ear.

‘Elizabeth Lawyer, this is R. Please be calling me.’

Type
Article
Category
Culture
Reading
Writing

Salinger’s Toilet

Six months after the death of JD Salinger in 2010, the toilet from his former home in Cornish, New Hampshire, went up for sale on eBay for one million American dollars. The advertisement claimed that the toilet was ‘uncleaned and in its original condition’. It also speculated that Salinger might have dreamed up and even written some of his unpublished work while sitting on this ‘throne’.

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Type
Article
Category
Culture
Politics

Descended upon by looters

There is a photo taken at the end of 1974 of a man sitting outside the remains of his shop on the Stuart Highway, Darwin, holding a shotgun to keep thieves away. It was a few days after Cyclone Tracy had wiped out close to 90 per cent of the town in what remains Australia’s greatest urban catastrophe.

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Type
Article
Category
Writing

Political writers in the neoliberal age

The notion is, of course, a product of modernity. As Terry Eagleton outlines in The Function of Criticism, the idea of the public sphere was forged in the struggle against the absolutist state. Salons, clubs and coffee houses, broadsheets, pamphlets, the novel itself – all of these were born as the middle classes carved out a space against the aristocratic notions of hereditary hierarchy.

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Type
Article
Category
Writing

Balancing the books

In my former job as a book publicist, there was an inevitable stomach-churn that accompanied working with an ‘unknown’. Not because they weren’t good writers, mind you, but because, in a world saturated with content, opinion and information, it was difficult to make the public care about someone who wasn’t already a household name.

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Type
Article
Category
Culture

Streets of wherever

Set pieces in foreign locations have always been a hallmark of the spy film genre, but in the current crop of Anglo-American franchises they have reached new levels of baroque virtuosity. The modern cinematic secret service agent is at home anywhere, speaks all languages, walks over everything; he’s a silent drone, a lethal tourist.

Type
Short Story Prize
Category
Reading

Judges’ report

From 622 entries, Enza Gandolfo, Jeff Sparrow, Jacinda Woodhead and I selected a short list of nineteen stories. Of the entries we received, 64 per cent were from women. Of the short-listed stories, seventeen are by women and two by men, figures which reflect the ratio of submissions in a blind-judged competition. Each of the stories on the short list has skill, energy and that great asset, a point of difference.

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Type
Fiction

Frank O’Hara’s Animals

Dimity is about to sneeze. She is lying in the yard, watching the bees around the clover. Grass between her knuckles, and at the back of her heels and her daisy-chained ankles. She turns her face to the sun, breathes in and –

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Type
Fiction

Killing Floor

Joe scrapes a homemade metal knife along the underside of a cowhide. Fat collects along the edge and he wipes it on his overalls. The hide goes into the pit, I throw buckets of salt on it and he starts scraping the next one. Inside this shed, just beyond the abattoir, Joe turns animal skins into leather and makes sausages. In town he lives alone, smokes too much and smells of preservatives. In the high school library, he teaches me how to play chess.

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Type
Fiction

The day the world stayed the same

Tuesday, September 11, 2001 dawns humid and somewhat cloudy in southern Vietnam. Millions of men and women ready themselves for work. Some make their way by scooter to downtown Saigon, or District 1, in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City. Some go to the market.

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Type
Poetry

Cento

So then the Librarian said:
‘the Piggy Bank is pi times ratshit squared’
and left the building seeking tundra.

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Type
Poetry

Making Love (to a man)

Didn’t think I’d hear from that man again, but then there was a message in my inbox. Within five hours we were in his bedroom. His hair is not computer hair, it’s straight and black: turntable hair, old school, calligraphy brush hair.

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Type
Poetry

Obit

He had good ideas in the shower,
he was sitting upright heroically typing away on his computer –
he improvised the filthiest, bawdiest limericks you can possibly imagine.
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Type
Poetry

Pillage

The museum’s frog info site is sponsored by Alcoa,
a company more responsible for the destruction 
of Hills frog habitat than any other. I went to confirm