'The Australian literary traditions that might connect us most closely to our own society seem to have less and less traction,' writes Nicholas Jose in his essay 'A Shelf of Our Own' in this month's Australian Book Review. 'Even to think of Australian writing as a category of its own is starting to sound a little odd ... Australian literature has been squeezed by globalisation in the market place, intellectual fashion in the academy and opposition to cultural intervention in the public sphere.' National constructs, he argues, are now viewed with suspicion and the category 'literature' has become likewise suspect.
Can any of this be denied? Would you want to try? As distinct, I mean, from wishing it otherwise.
Trundling wide-eyed around the blogosphere after the fashion of Leunig's Vasco Pyjama except with no direction-finding duck, I've found only a few blogs that could be said to belong even loosely to the 'Aust Lit' category and it's interesting to see that poets on the whole make far better bloggers than writers in any other genre apart, of course, from journalists proper; Chris Mansell and Jill Jones both maintain blogs where their own poems appear, while Alison Croggon runs the impressive Theatre Notes and its spinoff Critic Watch.
I've found only one blog fully dedicated to Australian literature as such and that's Perry Middlemiss's admirable Matilda.
A sort of scrapbook or day book of information, gossip, ruminations and what someone (also in ABR) has unkindly called 'spasms of assertion' is what I have in mind. Comments are always welcome.