Author: Jen Vuk

  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Australian history through the eyes of a dirt digger

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 24 October 2014
    9 Comments

    Satirist David Hunt's best-selling Girt The Unauthorised History of Australia prompted Joe Hockey to offer him a job as speech writer. There’s plenty of dirt. Australia was the place to be, writes Hunt, 'unless you were black. Or a woman. Or gay. Or suspected of being Irish. Or even worse, all of the above'.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    David Walsh's Catholic guilt

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 26 September 2014
    6 Comments

    A Bone of Fact is one part love letter and two parts plea bargain. That’s how Walsh can take a stab at Catholicism one minute and the next admit that in the 'thrall' of Michelangelo’s Pieta he loses all faculties. And for someone who’s gleamed much from betting, gambling gets short shrift.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Bogan Jesus

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 29 August 2014
    5 Comments

    Casting Christ as a bogan will rub theological feathers awry; a larger linguistic burden for many readers, however, is the unrelenting Strine and hoary cultural references. High art? No. Engaging? Highly. Jesse Adams is on about peace; an inclusive peace that includes social outcasts.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Japanese pilgrim enters the void

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 01 August 2014
    3 Comments

    In his native Japan, the name Haruki Murakami has immense currency. In the first week of its release his latest novel Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage sold more than one million copies. Coming from a traditional culture where assimilation and social order has been a historical imperative, perhaps the book's themes go beyond the intimate to acknowledge the soul-eating, conformist nature of society.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Veteran muckraker wrestles with God

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 06 June 2014
    2 Comments

    When journalist and activist Barbara Ehrenreich was a young woman she came face to face 'with something vast, terrifying and unknowable'. We mustn't take for granted the courage this admission took coming from such a committed atheist. While noting science can 'dismiss anomalous 'mystical' experiences', she wrestles her discontent into submission by boldly declaring that it 'is not unscientific to search for what may not be there'.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Malcolm Fraser whacks lackey Australia

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 16 May 2014
    2 Comments

    Fraser was a ruthless, conservative political animal who today is one of our most prominent human rights champions. The elder statesman is quite the angry young man in print. He delights in telegraphing his haymakers and following through with a well-placed elbow or two. Put bluntly, Fraser suggests we need to shed our lackey status. 'We need the United States for defence,' he argues, 'but we only need defence because of the United States.'

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Punk's holy fools still putting it to Putin

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 11 April 2014

    Journalist Masha Gessen describes the members of Pussy Riot as 'Putin's ideal enemies'. In recent months, their nemesis has hosted the Olympics, taken control of Crimea and clamped down on media. For a group born out of 'the repressions of a corporate political system that directs its power against basic human rights', Pussy Riot still has much to roar about, even if its signature 'punk prayer' sounds more than ever like a plea.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Homeless wonder on Victoria's plains

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 14 March 2014
    2 Comments

    Moira, her kids Zara and Rory, her partner Shane and his brother Midge are the kind of people you wouldn't think to look twice at. Living on welfare and on the constant lookout for abandoned houses to either live in or raid, they're known colloquially as 'trants' (short for itinerants). These otherwise overlooked and forgotten people might be parochial, but they're never parodied. They might be uneducated, but they have a voice.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The empathy revolution

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 14 February 2014
    3 Comments

    While realpolitik can drive us beyond a healthy scepticism to cynicism and indifference, British cultural thinker Roman Krzaric contends that when we look beyond the real — through imagination, creativity, vulnerability and networking — we can bring about the ideal of 'empathy on a mass scale to create social change' and even go about 'extending our empathy skills to embrace the natural world'. Without dreamers like Krzaric, we're stuffed.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Best of 2013: Sex and power in football and politics

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 10 January 2014

    A young writer has crash tackled the ugly questions of non-consensual sex, coercion and the male privilege and misuse of power that can flow from sporting success. Yet when it comes to our football codes — let alone our political arena — a conversation needs to move beyond gender name-calling or the 'us and them' polemic.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Catherine Deveny's happy diversions

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 13 December 2013
    3 Comments

    Deveny has made a career out of bungee jumping between the chasms of good taste, good writing and good sense. She's never been content to accept societal hypocrisy, and that's an occasional strength in her novel The Happiness Show. It becomes increasingly hard though to separate the author from her lead character, Lizzie. Thanks to an overly generous sprinkling of sex scenes, this quickly goes from disconcerting to downright awkward.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Ricky Ponting's homilies

    • Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk
    • 15 November 2013
    3 Comments

    Punter is a bloke's bloke, 'brung up' in a limited but nurturing suburbia of cricket, cricket, golf and cricket. I was genuinely touched by his acknowledgement of the role his wife, Rianna, and their daughters have played in his maturation. Yet while life experiences invariably expanded young Ponting's mind, it's fair to say that there remains something of the awkward teen in the man.

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