This month has brought the delivery of the latest issue of Griffith Review – Issue 67 Matters of Trust (Text Publishing 2019). As usual, it is a cornucopia of sharp, intellectual and insightful reading, with this edition considering the issue of trust – on a personal and bureaucratic level.
Matters of Trust is quite top-heavy with non-fiction, essay and reportage, and only a smattering of fiction and poetry (along with an amazing graphic story titled Ministry of Truth 20/20 by Alex Mankiewicz which cuts straight to the heart of trust, truth, lies and fake news in the modern world). The non-fiction covers topics from institutional abuse in the Catholic Church to democracy to the banking crisis to outsourcing, from public service policy to power to politics, from the promise of 2020 to archival and historical secrets to the distraction of digital noise to the #MeToo movement, from the negotiation of a working friendship to the negotiation of money and democracy. The most compelling non-fiction report is the emotional story of a woman searching for answers to her husband’s suicide in The Burning Question, Collateral Damage and the Catholic Church, by Suzanne Smith. There is fiction by Alex Miller and John Kinsella, and Best Laid Plans by Ellen Wengert, and my favourite The Things We’ll Leave Behind by Sophie Overett. There’s poetry by Geoff Page, Ross Hunter, David Ishaya Osu and Omar Sakr.
Some of the pieces that most resonated with me in this edition include: Signing Up to the Social Contract, memoir by Natasha Cica; the reportage by Cameron Muir called Weaponising Privilege, which discusses the war on drugs and the work of Alex Wodak and the needle exchange program; a moving report by David Ritter about the tragedy of the environmental disaster of the Murray-Darling River fish kill; a memoir piece titled On Being Sane in Insane Places by Katerina Bryant, whose mother works on suicide prevention for farmers; and an essay about family, comics and ethics by Damon Young.
Editor Ashley Hay’s Introduction is a beautiful meditation on the visual artwork Heritage which many readers might have seen exhibited at GOMA – many different animals drinking from the one pool of water – and Ashley’s perceptive comments about how this very obvious demonstration of trust confronts us today is a thought-provoking commentary and background to the entire issue.