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This Month in Port Phillip: May 1842 (Pt.1)

In May 1842 the talk of the town was BUSHRANGERS!  There had been reports filtering into the newspapers from late April about a spate of holdups and invasions and by early May it was clear that the same gang was … Continue reading ?

Movie: The Innocents

“So, what are you off to see today, Janine?” they asked. Nobody suggested joining me when I told them that I was going to see a movie about Polish nuns being raped after WWII. It was just as grim as … Continue reading ?

‘The Mysterious Mr Jacob’ by John Zubrzycki

2007, 262 p & notes Transit Lounge In 1912 it was said that when the real story of Alexander Malcolm Jacob was written, it would be invested with more wonder and mystery than “even in our strangest dreams we never … Continue reading...

Conference: When we voted ‘NO’: Democratic Opposition to War 20 May 2017

I attended a very enjoyable conference last Saturday at Brunswick, under the auspices of the Brunswick-Coburg Anti-Conscription Commemoration Committee, Melbourne Labor History Society and Victorian Trades Hall Council. Just look at the speakers: Barry Jones, Stuart Macintyre, Joy Damousi, Ross … Continue reading ?

Movie: “A Man Called Ove”

It seems that recently I’ve read seen several books (Extinctions; Our Souls at Night; Reading in Bed) and movies (45 Years; I, Daniel Blake) that deal with older characters. Is this the demographic pressure of Baby Boomers who prefer to … Continue reading ?

Exhibition: Something Borrowed

This fleeting exhibition at Victoria’s Parliament House would have to be the closest-held secret in Melbourne!  It’s only on for a week (i.e. 15-19 May 2017) and there’s not a single sign or indication outside Parliament House that it’s even … Continue reading ?

Movie: Manchester by the Sea

A nuanced and bleak view of masculinity.  Lee Chandler left Manchester By the Sea many years earlier to work as a janitor in Quincy, Massachusetts.  He lives alone and he is a coiled-up ball of trauma, grief and aggression.  When … Continue reading ?

‘Wild Island’ by Jennifer Livett

431 p., 2016 From the opening lines of this book, you hear echoes of a book you have read before: Reader, she did not marry him, or rather, when at last she did, it was not so straightforward as she … Continue reading ?

Movie: Denial

It’s not often that historians are the stars of a movie, but they are here in ‘Denial’, based on Deborah Lipstadt’s book History of Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.  It has an stellar cast (Rachel Weisz, … Continue reading ?

Exhibition: ‘Remembering ’67’

For the first few months of this year, much of my time was spent working with the team that has put together the ‘Remembering ’67’ exhibition at the Heidelberg Historical Society. This year is our 50th anniversary, and we celebrated … Continue reading ?

‘Our Souls at Night’ by Kent Haruf

2015, 179 pages. What an absolute gem of a book!  It’s only 179 broadly spaced pages long, but it’s gentle and wise and sad and when I finished it too late into the night, I sat in bed and cried. … Continue reading ?

This Month in Port Phillip in 1842: April 1842 (Part III)

What about poor George Arden? You might remember that since February 1842, the young editor of the Port Phillip Gazette had been languishing in the Eastern Watchhouse, sentenced to a year’s jail and a £300 fine for contempt of court … Continue reading ?

This Month in Port Phillip 1842: April 1842 (Part II)

Marry in haste, repent at leisure…. Assigned convicts in Port Phillip might only have had to attend one muster every New Year’s Day, but they were still convicts.  This was reinforced by the regulations involving marriage. THE CONVICT SYSTEM — … Continue reading ?

This Month in Port Phillip in 1842: April 1842 (Part 1)

On 6th April the Port Phillip Gazette published an article about the various denominations present in Melbourne at the time and their relative strength. I’ve never thought of Melbourne as being a particularly Catholic city, although even as I write … Continue reading ?

‘A Constellation of Vital Phenomena’ by Anthony Marra

2013, 400p Reading the debut book of a writer whose second book you really liked is a bit of a gamble. What if s/he only found firm footing with the second book? What if the first was a dud? I … Continue reading ?

Movie: ‘Loving’

Richard Loving, a white labourer, married Mildred Jetta  in 1958, in contravention of the miscegenation laws current in Virginia which banned inter-racial marriages. The American Civil Liberties Union took their case to the Supreme Court of the United States, which … Continue reading ?

Movie: Alone in Berlin

This movie is based on a book by Hans Fallada (whose book Little Man What Now I read forty years ago but still remember) that fictionalizes the real-life story of Otto and Elise Hampel. I was struck by how quiet … Continue reading ?

‘Billy Sing: A Novel’ by Ouyang Yu

2017,  135 p. Transit Lounge In my grave my spirit lingers, the undead, if you believe that sort of thing, which I think you ought to, you beings so materialistic you forget that life is not just one life but … Continue reading ?

Movie: Jasper Jones

I’ve heard people speak about the movie Jasper Jones and felt quite bemused because it doesn’t sound particularly like the book I remember reading.  Parts of it – yes, but I don’t remember the strong emphasis on Jasper’s aboriginality. Looking … Continue reading ?

This Month in Port Phillip 1842: March 1842

Another month-long summary, in a vain attempt to catch up. I think I’ve been too ambitious with weekly summaries and unless I find myself with too much spare time, I think my summaries will be monthly from here on. The … Continue reading ?

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