July 31, 2017

What does "virtue signalling" mean? And is it a helpful idea in conversation?

My latest essay for The New Philosopher discusses this popular concept.

Certain phrases are epitaphs for good debate. The conversation might continue, but in a deadened form: a petty spat, or s...

July 27, 2017

I recently had a piece on The Art of Reading in the UK's The Big Issue magazine: 'How to get into reading'.

What you are doing right now is astonishing: reading.

We often take it for granted, because the basic skills are gained so early. By the time we’re adults, the let...

July 25, 2017

 How do writers live?

We're familiar with festival performances or Hollywood tropes. But how do actual authors negotiate money, career, marriage, parenthood and identity?

A little while ago, Ruth Quibell and I spoke to a number of writers from Australia and abroad (chief...

July 18, 2017

Not long ago I wrote a short essay for Island magazine #145: 'Stupid Idiots'. It's on Australia's political slurs, and how maddeningly unambitious they are.

I'm suggesting we try harder to insult one another, starting with these two recommendations: 'stupid' and 'idio...

July 7, 2017

Long before I heard a clerk spelling out 'C-A-R-L M-A-R-K-S' in a Borders many years ago, I had my doubts about the big chain bookstores. When I'm seeking new spoils--from novels to philosophy, poetry to comics--I try to support independent bookshops.

But why?...

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