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Journal review – Kill Your Darlings Issue 2

KYD2 Kill Your Darlings stands accused of new fiction, essays, commentary and reviews and is guilty on all four counts.

I was very pleased when the July edition of Kill Your Darlings fell into my greedy hands. The editorial team have produced a chocolaty artefact of some beauty with superb artwork from Jeremy Ley. A collector’s item, I do believe, and fit for the finest bookshelf.

KYD has a reputation for wanting to sharpen the cutting edge of the literary journal:

In 2008, Rebecca Starford, then deputy editor of Australian Book Review, and Hannah Kent, PhD candidate, writer and woman-about-town, decided to go to a Melbourne café after a long day at the office. It was here, over mediocre lattés, that Rebecca casually mentioned she’d like to one day start a journal.

‘A literary journal,’ she explained, as Hannah grimaced over her coffee. ‘But something different. Something edgy.’

What better, then, than to open the proceedings of Issue 2 with a delicious commentary on that rather polarising iconoclast, Germaine Greer: Temple of The Female Eunuch – Germaine Greer Forty Years On, by Monica Dux.

Whatever you may think about The Female Eunuch, this is its undeniable legacy: to have made its author the undisputed figurehead of feminism, a virtual feminist messiah – even if the most committed feminists want no such thing, and Germaine herself finds the idea ridiculous.

Dux challenges that if we don’t believe Greer is ‘the most famous feminist on the planet’ to try to find anyone who, when asked to name someone they associate with feminism, doesn’t name her first. So I gave that a go. Here are my results:

Question: Name someone you associate with feminism
1. Age 46 – You. No, can’t think of anyone
2. Age 70+ – Gloria … someone. No, Germaine Greer. And Betty Friedan. Steinem. Gloria Steinem
3. Age 51 – Germaine Greer
4. Age 17 – I don’t know her name – that woman in the suffragettes
5. Age 24 – Ellen DeGeneres
6. Age 49 – Ellen DeGeneres
7. Age 21 – Germaine Greer
8. Age 31 – Germaine Greer
9. Age 17 – I don’t know
10. Age 22 – I don’t know
1. (Reprise by message) Germaine Greer!
5/10 – Germaine, 2/10 – Ellen, 3/10 – Tut, tut, tut

Which proves little and was as depressing as Dux intimated it may be. The KYD2 article, however, is excellent and thoroughly enjoyable – an even-handed and engaging commentary that left me feeling informed. I loved the inclusion of Polly Dedman’s ‘DEADSTOCK’ and a truly un-parsnip-like photograph of the woman herself.

Gideon Haigh’s commentary on the state of Australian Biography asserts:

A good deal of blame can be heaped at the door of Australia’s publishers, too, who for the messy, complex, unpredictable and time-consuming genre of biography have found a slick and cheap substitute in the form of the memoir.

And I, for one, am always happy to see the blame heaped somewhere. Haigh’s list of ‘lives that have not been told at book length’ read like a list of all the great Australians I have never heard of and know nothing about … which was both compelling argument and explanatory note regarding the need for more great Australian biography.

And who can resist the charm of Benjamin Law? No one who saw him at the 2010 Emerging Writers Festival, surely. His comment on Discovering Music After Everyone Else is, of course, a delight, as is Ruth Stark’s ‘Lunch in Mayfair’ – an invitation to peek behind the doors of the world of the ‘romance novel’.

Just to really piss off Gideon Haigh, Michaela McGuire has written ‘a memoir at the age of twenty-two’ and shares with us the rather humorous Pitfalls and Pleasures of ‘That One Time I Tried To Be A Writer’. Emilie Collyer writes about mothering taboos in Confessions and defies us to ‘Find me a girl who writes ‘stepmother’ on her bucketlist of ambitions.’

Excellent – a good chunk of the journal consumed in one sitting. Now: new fiction.

Well, I didn’t fall in love with the new fiction. ‘Shock’ by Pierz Newton-John is seriously creepy, and not in a good way. Virginia Peters ‘Friction’, Leanne Hall’s ‘Terror Story’ and Samuel Rutter’s ‘Comfort Inn’ all had me intrigued, but didn’t, for me, quite pay off in the end – you know, that ‘click’ that a great short story ending can have that shifts it from ‘good’ to ‘brilliant’?

The Journal continues to rollick along: Phillip Pullman is the subject of a deft and pithy KYD interview; Mel Campbell gives us a rundown on the True Blood scene and Jo Case treats us to a really wonderful, thorough review of the works of Barbara Trapido in Chance Encounters of the Seductive Kind. With The Anti-Mystery Machine, Anthony Carew offers insight into the paradoxes of fame and infamy in the digital age and KYD2 concludes with Rochelle Siemienowicz’s loving review of one of my favourite television series Love My Way – including a very cheesy photo of the major players.

Even if you missed Monica Dux, Leslie Cannold and Karen Pickering in conversation about Ms Greer, there’s still time to dash into Readings (or some other book shop) and pick up your copy of the most delectable Kill Your Darlings (Issue Two). You will need it, for your collection.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Clare Strahan is a Melbourne writer and author of Cracked. She is also a drama tutor, a graduate of RMIT’s Professional Writing & Editing, a writer of fiction and poetry and is a contributing editor. at Overland. She is a freelance editor, creator of the Literary Rats cartoon, and flutters about the twittersphere as @9fragments.

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Comments

  1. Clare, I’m sure Issue 2 of KYDs will be flying out the door after this informative and enthusiastic review. I especially like your research – we need another Germaine to get us talking about feminism and why it’s still relevant to women’s lives today.

  2. Cheers Trish. Yes, my ‘research’ was quite disturbing and included a bit of a rant from one much-loved woman friend who ‘isn’t a feminist’ (despite being an executive continually banging her head against the glass ceiling and having a husband who was the primary housekeeper for much of her children’s childhoods) because she wants men to ‘open doors for her’ and do the things she’s squeamish about. sigh. Only my mother could easily name more than two ‘famous feminists’. The only glimmer of hope is that everyone (except my mother) was abashed. I agree – will the next Germaine Greer please stand up? Brings me back to my second-ever post at Overland … http://web.overland.org.au/2010/04/23/from-‘sex-kitten’-to-educating-the-sexes/

    reCAPTCHA is getting into the spirit, as usual: Shocken tootin

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