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Kevin Cryan
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #160: 06.01.08 at 13:19 »
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This is how Charles Foran began his essay on Cultural Amnesia yesterday in the pages of the Canadian national newspaper The Globe and Mail
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
CULTURAL CRITICISM
 
Has this man read everything?
 
CHARLES FORAN  
 
January 5, 2008
 
CULTURAL AMNESIA  
 
Notes in the Margin of My Time
 
By Clive James
 
Picador, 876 pages, $55  
 
Clive James cannot write a dull sentence or express a mundane thought. The revered Australian critic and author accumulated the 110 biographical essays that make up Cultural Amnesia over a 40-year period. While also busy publishing some 30 other books, all delivered in the same whip-smart, aphoristic prose, the timeline is helpful in rendering this massive project less daunting. Do the math, and the numbers revert to the human sphere: two or three essays per year, manageable for a writer once described by The New Yorker as a "brilliant bunch of guys."
...[more]
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
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« Reply #161: 07.01.08 at 09:54 »
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As a believer in correction attributions wherever possible, and in therefore resisting folk etymologies and the assumption that anything clever and witty must have been said originally by Oscar Wilde or Groucho Marx or Dorothy Parker (a tendency which was clearly already rife when Cole Porter wrote the verse to 'Just One Of Those Things'), I believe that the following is the first articulation (in 1980) of this particular thought (most of you will probably recognise it, or at least recognise the style):
 
"The major problem -- *one* of the major problems, for there are several -- one of the many major problems with governing people is that of who you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.  To summarize:- It is a well known and much lamented fact that those people who most *want* to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.  To summarize the summary:- anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.  To summarize the summary of the summary:- people are a problem."
 
I'd be most interested if anyone can come up with an earlier citation.
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #162: 08.01.08 at 22:01 »
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I have seen the dictum that "those who seek power are not worthy of power", which, taken out of context, can be thought to be expressing something of the same idea,  attributed to Plato, though as far as I know neither Plato, nor his fequent mouthpiece in the various dialogues, Socrates, ever put it in quite that way.
 
 In Book VII The Republic Plato's Socrates does tell Glaucon that "the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst". One presumes that where the idea comes from.? [link]
 
Kevin Cryan
 
"The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 39 [Free Press, 1979];  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #163: 08.01.08 at 23:07 »
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Ah, yes, right, yes, Plato.  Should have got that.   Maybe the new element in the Adams is to take it beyond the idea of better or worse government to the idea of the desire being actually a disqualification.   I think there's something somewhere in Confucius to the effect that government is at its most effective when the governed believe that they have done it by themselves, which predates Plato by a bit, but that's drifting a bit off course.
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #164: 10.01.08 at 07:38 »
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Just to stay out "a whole degree" for a moment, I think that what Confucius had in mind was not so much  the governed believing " that they have done it by themselves"  as them thinking, or accepting, that they lived under the right form of govenrment. Confuscius believed thato both ruler and ruled had to be educated into an understanding of their respective positions.  
 
"By winning the people, the kingdom is won; by losing the people, the kingdom is lost." [link]
 
This, even in Cufucius's time, not very novel idea is a forerunner to what is nowadays called - usually in "management-speak" - getting the people to "buy into" a process, or convincing them that the way things are done is the best, and only possible, way of doing things. The modern version, some would argue, is more about "brain-washing" than education. But that is going out further than "a whole degree".  
 
Kevin Cryan    
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #165: 12.01.08 at 03:46 »
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Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.
 
Gore Vidal
 
Trouble is, I don't know when  Sad
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #166: 16.02.08 at 18:17 »
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on 30.11.07 at 06:42, Kevin Cryan wrote:
The New York Times has chosen Cultural Amnesia, which it reviewed the 8th of April 2007 as one of the  
100 Notable Books of 2007  
 
Kevin Cryan

 
It's quite remarkable just how much good press it got in America.  
 
Just about the most remarkable thing that's happened to it this side of the Atlantic is that the hardback has made it way at a greater any than any book I know of, other than Clive's North Face of Soho, onto the shelves of remaindered shops. Today, I picked up a copy, from a pile of ten, in one such outlet for the princely sum £2.  
 
I leave to those who know more about publishing and selling books to figure out why Picador has released these titles to the remaindered marketplace quite such unseemly speed. All I will say that is it seems to me to be all rather odd.  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #167: 18.02.08 at 07:11 »
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It seems to me that it's been a very long time since we've  heard anything from Jeremy Walton,  the man who once said that he  considered himself to be Pete Atkin’s number one fan. Well, it looks as though he has not disappeared altogether. Only yesterday, while  I was browsing Amazon to see how it was handling the pricing and selling of Clive's Cultural Amnesia I hit upon an Amazon customer review which suggested the Jeremy was still very active in promoting the Atkin/James brand.
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful:  
***** My book of the year,
12 Jul 2007  
 
By Jeremy Walton (Oxford, UK) -See all my reviews
    
 
Following some explicit hints to my daughter, I was delighted to receive this as a Father's Day gift. I consider myself a fairly well-read person, but only in the extremely limited sense of having read just about everything Clive James has ever written, ranging from his TV reviews, literary criticism, autobiography, novels and verse to his lyrics for singer-songwriter Pete Atkin. More broadly, what I've read in his books has introduced me to other writers, and it's always been entertaining to see his opinion (particularly when it's not high) on books which I've already read.  
 
There's more of the same in this book, but its scale and structure dwarfs anything he's produced up until now. Some four years in the writing, it's been viewed as the culmination of his life's work (although he's rumoured to have already started work on a second volume). At first glance, it's a collection of more than a hundred critical essays on selected cultural or historical figures, mostly from 20th century Europe. Digging deeper reveals other things, as he uses his ideas about the person as a jumping-off point for musings on other topics such as plagarism, fame, memory, reading, grammar and bibliophilia.  
 
His range of reference is extraordinary, taking in books written in German, French, Italian and Spanish (all of which he apparently reads fluently). There's a strong didactic element running through this work, as he breaks off to give advice on the most profitable way to learn languages, the best dictionaries and translations, and which books are most easily used as a starting point for breaking into a specific language. He also tells stories of the tracking down of books in shops all over the world that are explicit - even loving - in their physical detail as he describes their bindings, typeface and paper, and how they look on his shelves at home.  
 
His main theme here, however, is culture and the struggles of liberal humanism against totalitarianism. This is clearly a big subject, and each one of these essays illuminates it from a slightly different angle until you're left feeling wiser, older and sadder at the heroism and destruction that inspired this work. Along the way, his lively and playful turns of phrase are enough to make you start making notes in the margin yourself - to take just one example at random, on p498 he describes the constant need to refresh our memory of good things that we've read as "a polishing of the pipe, like El Dorado's throat". I'm sure I won't read a better book this year, and perhaps for some time to come afterwards as well.
 Comment |Permalink

 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #168: 13.03.08 at 21:28 »
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I like this piece of blogging, and am reprinting here, for no beeter reason than I see evidnece that Clive James's writing is having much the same effect on a 29 year old resident of Austin, Texas that it had on me some thirty odd years ago when I began to read as much of it as I could possibly find. I'd like to think that this young man is unique only in that he has put written his thoughts about Clive up in his weblog.
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 

Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Cultural Amnesia by Clive James
 
Who was the person that opened your eyes and helped you realize that there was so much more out there for you to know, so much that until then you never even knew existed?
 
Mine were opened in my third semester of college, listening to hour-long lectures twice a week in English Literature. Professor James Soderholm was the sort of intellect that up until that point I had never encountered before. He seemed to know everything about everything, and he was the standard that my roommate and I held ourselves to, aspiring to one day become professors ourselves. Professor Soderholm discussed knowledge as an inverted pyramid: the more you learned and moved up the pyramid, the more there was to know. However, I think this analogy is somewhat flawed, and I would offer another as a substitute. Personal knowledge is like a circle. Everything inside that circle is what you know, and as you learn the circle grows in area. However, what’s ]outside the circle is what you don’t know, and as the circumference of your knowledge grows, the greater the amount of unknown material is in contact with it .
 
 
The more you know, the more you are forced to realize you don’t. And in a corollary, the people who think they know just about everything only think that because their circle is s small; it doesn’t border all that much of the unknown.
 
After finishing the book this evening, I sat down with a book of Joan Didion’s essays and read an account of a debate over the pro/anti-racist nature of The Confessions of Nat Turner between author William Styron and Ossie Davis. It took place at the house of Sammy Davis, Jr., and James Baldwin played the mediator role. How perfect a scene like this would be in James’s book, informing the reader of not just the careers of the people included, but getting a sense of who they were as people.
 
 

Reading Clive James’s mammoth book of essays, Cultural Amnesia, I was again struck by how much knowledge I don’t have. He selected one hundred individuals that are deserving of our attention as students of the culture in which we live, and presented an essay (or sometimes two or three) on each. Why should we care? James cites Nirad C. Chaudhuri, who says ‘civilization continues through the humane examination of its history.’
 
I consider myself a reasonably informed person, someone who might do quite well on Jeopardy one day, but I had only passing familiarity with maybe a third of the people James selected. I’d never heard of Egon Friedell, Miguel de Unamuno, or Alexandra Kollontai. And many of the ones I had heard of, like Raymond Aron, I knew nothing more than a name.
 
But these chapters aren’t biographies. They are essays that use their subjects as launching pads for greater issues and associations. The entry on Michael Mann discusses the difference between stage acting and acting for the screen, the necessity that narration work in a particular art form, and when movie stars become actors. The essay on Chaplin is really about Einstein.
 
It can be a bit of a mystery as to why James opted for the people he did.
For example, why of all the Hollywood directors that have impacted the cinema and our greater art scene, does he only select Michael Mann?  No John Ford, or Orson Welles, or even David Lynch?  But then one remembers the title: Cultural Amnesia. James is trying to insure that we don’t forget certain lessons that may be best exemplified by these people. There is little chance that we will forget Steven Spielberg, but I would imagine that we likely will forget Michael Mann. James ends the book by saying, ‘What I tried to do was keep some [of what I’ve read] with me and draw lessons from it.’ And perhaps this is the most important reason to read a book that weighs in at just under 900 pages. There is no wayfor us to remember everything that we read, see, or hear, but we can try to keep with us what we can, learning all the while.

 
My circle is much bigger than it was ten months ago when I started this book. I hope it grows even bigger in the next ten.
 
Posted by Jon Polk at 5:59 AM
 
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..
 
Kevin Cryan
« Last Edit: 13.03.08 at 21:34 by Kevin Cryan » IP logged
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #169: 14.03.08 at 14:15 »
Quote

on 18.02.08 at 07:11, Kevin Cryan wrote:
It seems to me that it's been a very long time since we've  heard anything from Jeremy Walton,  the man who once said that he  considered himself to be Pete Atkin’s number one fan. Well, it looks as though he has not disappeared altogether. Only yesterday, while  I was browsing Amazon to see how it was handling the pricing and selling of Clive's Cultural Amnesia I hit upon an Amazon customer review which suggested the Jeremy was still very active in promoting the Atkin/James brand.

 
Hi Kevin - many thanks for the acknowledgement of my Amazon review - it's good to learn that I haven't, in fact, disappeared altogether!  Actually I made a microscopic point in this thread last year about a J D Salinger query in "Cultural Amnesia" but, come to think of it, that wasn't too different from being completely invisible!  Anyway, well done once again on your continuing efforts to promote this excellent book.
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #170: 07.04.08 at 15:17 »
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This is how Clive has introduced Cultural Amnesia – the eBook.
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
When Cultural Amnesia was launched last year I wasn’t sure that it would even float. It was a pleasant surprise to see it steaming off in the direction of every horizon at once.  
 
In hardback the book has done at least as well as any of my autobiographies, so I have high hopes for the paperback, which should be more in range of the student budget. The paperback will also be slightly less massive, which might mean that older people can read it with a smaller risk of being flattened. A complete unknown to me is how the eBook will do. I’m not entirely certain yet what an eBook is, but I prepared some special extra material for it just out of faith. All this is happening while I work on the manuscript of my fifth volume of unreliable memoirs. There are also two poetry books in prospect: a successor to my first volume of collected verse, The Book of My Enemy, and also a book of selected poems. I am also writing the introduction for a new essay collection. My retirement from mainstream television has made all this literary activity possible but my problem now is how to retire from my retirement while I can still walk. ..........................
 
Posted by Clive James
at 07/04/08, 11:25:52

 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
Kevin Cryan
 
Note
 
Clive's publisher, Picador is making a sales point of the fact that eBook comes DRM free. Those who do not understand what this means to the purchaser should check out the DRM in Wikipedia.  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #171: 12.04.08 at 19:15 »
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Today's edition of The Guardian has Cultural Amnesia as Nicholas Lezard's paperback choice.  
 
 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
For the love of knowledge
 
Nicholas Lezard takes on Clive James's learning in Cultural Amnesia  
 
Saturday April 12, 2008
 
The Guardian  
 
..............................
 
....James is, as always, a pleasure to read, even when there are times you feel that it might be also a duty. Part of the price of this is a fondness for the contentious declaration - usually when baiting the far left. My own notes to this book contain more than one "oh, yeah?" But there are many more that attest to his enriching, magnanimous judiciousness and insight.

________________________________________________
 
To order Cultural Amnesia for £13.99 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0870 836 0875 or go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop  
>>>>>>>>>>>>

 
Kevin Cryan
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #172: 15.04.08 at 19:58 »
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on 07.04.08 at 15:17, Kevin Cryan wrote:
This is how Clive has introduced Cultural Amnesia – the eBook.
 
...........
 
Kevin Cryan
 

 
Nicholas Blake of the Pan Macmillan Digital Publishing team,  in the blog, Cultural Amnesia and ’special edition’ eBooks, he posted to the team bolg, the digitalist, has now explained some of the ways in which eBook version of Cultural Amnesiais different from the print version.
 
If you are looking for reasons for investing  in the ebook when have got a perfectly good print copy, then the ones he gives could be just what you are looking for.  
 
Kevin Cryan
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #173: 27.04.08 at 12:04 »
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Jean Hannah Edelstein on ...... Cultural Amnesia in today's edition of The Observer.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 

 
...........In the hands of any other writer, such an ambitious and personal A-Z of 20th-century culture could have collapsed into a confusing heap, but this is a rather beautiful book. James proves himself not only to be in possession of a towering intellect, but a singular ability to communicate his often slightly obscure passions in a manner that is warm and enriching.
 

 

 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #174: 27.04.08 at 14:08 »
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Pick of the paperbacks
Telegraph 26/04/2008
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
Cultural Amnesia by Clive James
 
Clive James's alphabetical tour of his lifetime's reading and thinking is startling in its breadth: Einstein rubs up with Duke Ellington and Beatrix Potter with Proust, Thomas Mann with the film director Michael Mann. It is full of people one should have heard of but haven't (Thomas Mann's historian son Golo, the Spanish essayist Miguel de Unamuno).  
 
But its stylistic range is far narrower: the wise and the cunning, the heroic and the desperate, are all assessed with the same briskly judgmental liberalism, phrased with the same neatness. A very exalted lavatory book. PR
*
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
Kevin Cryan
 
*Peter Robins  
 
PS. I know that Torygraph readers are considered by those of us of other persuasions to have some odd tastes, but does anybody really think that those tastes run to buying an 'exalted lavatory book'? Maybe lavatory has a different meaning for them than it does for me.  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #175: 14.05.08 at 08:44 »
Quote

Listen to Clive James talking to Canadian writer and  broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel for CBC Radio's* Words at Large** about Cultural Amnesia by going through this link.
 
Kevin Cryan
 
NOTES
 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Words at Large
** is CBC’s*online destination for Canadians who love books. Look for something new every day, from CBC programs and podcasts, to interviews with writers and more. Stay tuned for our newly designed and expanded site.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #176: 27.07.08 at 19:40 »
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From the Friday the 25th edition of The Telegraph (Kolkata)
 
THE OLD EUROPE TALK SHOW
 

Otto Dix, Portrait of  
Sylvia von Harden, 1926
Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time By Clive James, Picador, £8.60
 
In 1819, the year he wrote his greatest poems and letters, Keats ran into Coleridge in London, while walking towards Highgate. They walked together for about two miles in the older poet’s stately pace, and in the course of the walk STC “broached a thousand things” — like nightingales, nightmares, metaphysics, monsters and mermaids. In a letter to his brother and sister-in-law, this is how Keats ends his hilarious account of the encounter: “I heard his voice as he came towards me — I heard it as he moved away — I heard it all the interval — if it may be called so.”  
 
I was reminded of Keats’s words after working through the 870-odd pages of Clive James’s Cultural Amnesia. “There are hundreds of voices in this book,” James writes in the introduction to this attempt at rebuilding Western humanism’s Tower of Babel. But the voice that one hears most insistently inside its echoing corridors, and then carries away as one stumbles out into the common day, is James’s own. The relentlessness of it is somewhere ......................[read on]
.

 
Kevin Cryan.
 
Note The writer of the piece, Aveek Sen, is Senior Assistant Editor (editorial pages), The Telegraph, Calcutta
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #177: 28.07.08 at 08:31 »
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I feel sure Clive will be pleased to receive serious attention from the Kolkata Telegraph, but the ending of Aveek Sen's piece lets it down badly.  It concludes with an in any case insupportable statement, apparently manufactured as a prompt for an astonishingly inappropriate question:
 
'In the “rule of decency” that James’s “crash course” attempts to rescue from oblivion, there is no room for difficulty, poetic or discursive, for anything that is not luminously accessible. But isn’t this a kind of fascism too?'
 
Even if the preceding statement were true at face value (which it isn't), the polite answer to the question, in my opinion, would still be "No, of course it isn't; don't be so silly."  That, as I say, is the polite answer.
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #178: 28.07.08 at 10:18 »
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Did this bloke read the same book I did? No room for difficulty? I'd have said the whole thrust of the book is to expose the complexity of culture, to explore the often startling connections between apparently disparate artistic expressions, and to make a case for the rehabilitation and rediscovery of the work of  some thinkers whose ideas certainly seemed difficult enough to me. Or am I missing something?
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #179: 06.08.08 at 14:52 »
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Cultural Amenesia is on the non-fiction short list for the 2008 (Australian) Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.  
 
The winner in each category gets a generous tax free prize of $100, 000 (£46,658 approx). So there is a little more than just prestige at stake.  
 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 

 
Australian Government________________________________
Department of the Environment, Water. Heritage and the Arts.
Arts and culture
 
2008 short list _____________________________
 
2008 short list
 
The Arts Minister Peter Garrett* has announced the short list for the 2008 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.  
 
Short list: Fiction
 
The 91 entries in the fiction category of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards included a wide range of contemporary Australian fiction.  
 
The seven short-listed fiction books include works in prose, a compilation of short stories and one work in verse. Among the short list are writers whose distinguished careers have spanned decades as well as debut authors whose careers are just beginning.  
  • Burning In Mireille Juchau (Giramondo)
  • El Dorado Dorothy Porter (Picador)
  • Jamaica Malcolm Knox (Allen and Unwin)
  • Sorry Gail Jones (Vintage)
  • The Complete Stories David Malouf (Knopf)
  • The Widow and Her Hero Tom Keneally (Doubleday)
  • The Zookeeper's War Steven Conte (Fourth Estate)

Short list: Non-fiction
 
A total of 103 books, traversing topics from politics, art, philosophy and architecture were entered in the 2008 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards non-fiction category.  
 
The judges selected the seven short-listed books because of their originality, rich detail and clarity of writing. Included in the short list are histories born from meticulous research, engaging accounts of survival and moving stories that resonate long after the book has been closed.  
 
  • A History of Queensland Raymond Evans (Cambridge University Press)
  • Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time Clive James (Picador)
  • My Life as a Traitor Zarah Ghahramani with Robert Hillman (Scribe)
  • Napoleon: The Path to Power, 1769–1799 Philip Dwyer (Bloomsbury)
  • Ochre and Rust: Artefacts and Encounters on Australian Frontiers Philip Jones (Wakefield Press)
  • Shakespeare's Wife Germaine Greer (Bloomsbury)
  • Vietnam: The Australian War Paul Ham (HarperCollins)

 
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
 
Kevin Cryan
 
Addenda
 
*Peter Garrett
 
The winner is to be announced next month.
 
« Last Edit: 06.08.08 at 15:01 by Kevin Cryan » IP logged
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