As a rule, it takes me until Sunday night to finish reading The Age that arrives on Saturday. My favourite section is ‘Life and Style'( which used to be A2) but it seems that the life and style- the restaurants, the interviews, the film tie-ins etc- are nudging the book reviews into a smaller and smaller space. It will barely worth the anticipation soon.
I used to look forward to the Australian Literary Review that came out at the start of each month with The Australian but it seemed that the reviews increasingly became just a platform for the right-wing stance of the The Australian generally. So, when it no longer appeared, it was no great loss either.
I subscribe the the Australian Review of Books but to my shame, I often don’t get round to reading them until months later. My son would eye the unopened magazine covetously (along with the similarly unopened-yet The Monthly, Griffith Review and Quarterly Review) saying “Oh, come on, I just want to read….” but no, I paid for it, so I’m going to open it in my own good time thank you very much. I subscribed to the London Review of Books, lured by a very tempting no-obligation introductory subscription price. But- oh dear- such long articles; so much reading- each one took almost a week! And six month’s worth of London Review of Books have been added, unopened, to the ‘one day’ pile and the subscription has been allowed to lapse.
And now here’s another one- the Sydney Review of Books. It is edited by James Ley, and here’s what it has to say about itself:
The Sydney Review of Books is an online journal devoted to long-form literary criticism. It is motivated by the belief that in-depth analysis and robust critical discussion are crucial to the development of Australia’s literary culture. We decided to embark on this project because of our concerns about the reduced space for serious literary criticism in the mainstream media, and the newspapers in particular, given their uncertain future. We intend the Sydney Review of Books to be a venue in which Australian writers and critics can engage with books at length, a venue in which to rediscover the intimate connection between the art of criticism and the art of the essay. The Review’s focus is Australian writing, but it also considers the work of significant overseas authors.
Sydney Review of Books has been developed with the support of the Writing and Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. It is also supported by grants from the Australia Council and Copyright Agency Limited. It has been conceived as a free online publication, in order to maximise its reach. We publish new essays and reviews on a weekly basis and, in offering a selection of high quality criticism by some of the best critics and writers in the country, we hope to enlist your support as readers to ensure that the Review can continue as a dynamic contributor to our literary culture.
It looks good. And it doesn’t have to sit on a pile, wrapped in a cover, shaming me.