By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Best Australian Essays: A Ten-Year Collection
Edited by Black Inc. (Black Inc., $34.95, softcover, 447 pages)
Setting a high standard for the Australian essay, this updated authoritative collection comprises the most outstanding non-fiction from around the country.
2011 celebrates a plentiful decade of writing on various topics and Black Inc. presents the cream of the crop. There is a bold trend for experiences to be captured in print and “a powerful need to have new ideas dramatized, analysed and brought to life”.
While all 39 essays deserve a mention, this ambitious project sees authors telling their stories, giving opinions and facts and relaying insights that will touch a compassionate cord.
This compilation has the best selection from the annual Best Australian Essays series. Essays offer an easy reading format: they don’t appear shallow or take sides, maintain editorial freedom and views and anecdotes make for interesting reading.
These capture some key events – from September 11 to Victoria’s fires, Anzac Day to Palm Island and Oskar Schindler to Charles Darwin.
There’s a charismatic charm about the way David Marr writes of the precious Patrick White papers; John Birmingham tells his own war story in A City Obsessed; the man who inspired Thomas Keneally to write Schindler’s List is simply amazing; the last meeting with Arthur Boyd for Barry Humphries left a long-lasting impression; the touching story about the ‘family’ of people who’ve had liver transplants is penned by Inga Clendinnen; and David Malouf investigates how the decline in popularity of Anzac Day in the 1950s has changed to a national 21st century obsession.
However, it’s the story by Jessica Anderson titled Late Starter that oozed nostalgia.
She talks about discarding her old Hermes typewriter and, at the age of 70, learning how to use a computer. She certainly had some interesting routines and arrangements for writing.
Get set for hours of enjoyment and distraction, cleverness and enlightenment.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.