Monday, January 23, 2012

A Response to Michael Heyward

`            The problems with this widely commented-on article by text publisher (and former Scripsi editor) Michael Heyward is that it takes reputations which have mysteriously become under-recognized like Sumner Locke Elliott or David Ireland, and makes them tantamount to the entire state of Australian writing when comparable writers--Thea Astley, Christopher Koch--are very much in evidence. There are analogous cases in the US and UK, where writers with huge reputations in the 60s and 70s just are not canonical any more. Also, even though he doesn't mention it explicitly, one gets the idea he is partially blaming academia and 'theory' and ‘multiculturalism’ when in my view it is (as he also also mentions, though perhaps with not enough fervor) probably the neoliberal, hyper-corporate contemporary publishing industry--and its love of glitz and the latest thing--that is the real problem. This is a notable shift from when I first started following Aus. Lit---in the early 90s Penguin and Angus and Robertson really wanted to promote Australian literature and literary fiction. They sent Antipodes review copies of literary books and understood how a small literary periodical could help promote their work. Shortly after the profits-only mentality took over as they were more subject to international that economic arena, it is simply numbers-simply Australia’s smaller population--that indicates why Bellow and Storey (!) are still in print and David Ireland is not....

We of course would be happy to promote by means of commissioning a review any Australian (or New Zealand!) book his firm publishes; our reviews editor can be contacted at Richard Carr, Department of English, PO Box 755720. Fairbanks, AK 99775-5720, USA. 

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