Steep Stairs Review. Volume 8

September 17, 2012

There is always an eclectic mix of articles and reviews in Steep Stairs Review, drawn as they are from the various interests and passions of a disparate group of academics, teachers, students and researchers. It’s not easy to declare a ‘theme’ for the issue and to procure erudite responses at a whim, as mostly we write about what has recently crossed our desks, engaged our imaginations, or otherwise inspired us to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. Despite there being no theme, the collected contributions contained in this issue never-the-less hang together, albeit tentatively, on some common ideas – desperation, the ways societies react to power, horror, and in sublime contrast the pleasures wrung from art and life as it transforms and shifts with the tides of change. There is a real feast for the senses here, some more pleasurably sensual, others challenging and disturbing but equally engaging.

To begin, our Review Essay on David Marr’s very recent Quarterly Essay on Tony Abbott, Finessing the Principles, Frightening the Punters: Tony Abbot, Future PM? by Glen Jennings. How does Abbott’s more than 30 years in politics provide a guide to the nation’s political future?  Then an exploration of The Future of Jazz, an inspiring address to students of jazz by Richard Finch on the directions of the jazz scene, and how this sometimes controversial music genre has the future hard wired into its’ continually changing topographies.

Michael Heald celebrates the end of the long wait to see the poetry of Tomas Transtromer finally recognised for its ability to evoke the details below the surface – conveying the ‘unmanifest’ in Heald’s words: ‘The Seen and the Unseen in One Mix’: The Nobel Prize Winning Poetry of Tomas Transtromer.

The next two reviews, Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus: What Becomes of the Retuned Soldier? reviewed by Gayle Allan, and The Apartment, by Greg Baxter. Skimming Slowly and Deliberately Across the Surface, reviewed by Jennifer Mitchell, are both dealing with the uncertain, contingent position of the warrior in the social world. Allan’s nuanced and very detailed consideration of Fiennes’ Coriolanus, reveals that even in Shakespeare’s time the returned soldier found himself a fish out of water. The Apartment by Greg Baxter has as its first person narrator just such a returned soldier – back from Iraq – and unable to find a place to call home anymore.

The final two pieces, though sharing a common idea, are quite different explorations of the ways that the sometimes unspeakable can be enculturated into society: into theatre in one case, Hell House: A Tour with Back to back Theatre, by Rosalie Ham, and in the other even become a bizarre tourist attraction in Thailand: Demented Disneyland: Benedict Anderson and the Fate of Rural Hell, reviewed by Glen Jennings. And finally, the review you’ve been waiting for to find out what all that fuss earlier this year was all about, Fifty Shades of Grey – The review to read so you don’t have to read the book, reviewed by Olivia Clarke

Please enjoy reading, and make comments, tweet and retweet, share with your friends and colleagues. Keep Literature and Culture alive.

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