I’ve never known quite how to feel about Alan Moore. Perhaps my feelings are best expressed by the time I found myself drunkenly screaming, ‘Alan Moore is a sex pervert’ in a public park immediately after declaring him one of the greatest living writers. His fondness for sex scenes has always left me prudishly uncomfortable and I’ve been very disturbed by the gendered violence in his work.
When published in 1995, Justine Ettler’s debut novel The River Ophelia received a lively critical reception. For some, the book exemplified a genre of gritty, in-ya-face writing then known as ‘grunge lit’, named after the contemporaneous music movement from Seattle (think Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam).
There is no doubt that the formation of racist street patrols is newsworthy, however we may never know why Channel Seven felt the need to woo these neo-Fascists with such soft balls. Possibly it was in the interests of keeping them sweet to guarantee that next exclusive interview, maybe it was to keep things interesting for their next awful Underbelly knock-off.
It has been suggested that Uluru, amongst other things, is a symbol of reconciliation in Australia. It is certainly a cherished and revered place for Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike. When I was there, watching visitors time and again read the sign at the base of the rock and then continue across the threshold, it felt like a symbol of something else: of our historic and continuing disrespect for the first peoples of this country, of a shoddy version of reconciliation.
The power of the debate – as an illustration of gender politics in 1971 – is patent, a more than ample foundation on its own, with Mailer looking more of a fool as time goes on in his attempts to rein the women in, belittle their arguments and remain on top. Its fascination for us today lies also in the language and manners, striking in their formality, even in Johnston’s experimental prose and radical politics; Greer and Trilling are just as prolix, speaking in paragraphs we no longer hear in these contexts, worn down as we are by decades of festivals, talk fests and technology.