The latest edition of the quarterly literary journal Overland has hit the presses and it is a thought-provoking mix of fiction, poetry, critique and essays covering many different topics. This summer 2019 edition is the last to be edited by Jacinda Woodhead before new editors take the reins.
The highlights for me from this issue are: the non-fiction essay Only the Lonely (On Families and Prison) by Rachel McGuirk, a raw and uncomfortable read about the author’s own family members’ drug addictions and mental health problems; Alison Crogan’s encouraging reframing of writing disaster and failure into necessary practice for subsequent work; Freya Howarth’s enlightening essay on labour in bookselling and publishing (entitled Retail Therapist); and the critique Crocodile Tears (On Misreading Justice), in which Russell Marks gives a confronting analysis of Cathy McLennan’s book Saltwater, and picks apart its success and failures in an epic six-page critical review not only of the book itself, but the reception it received, the ongoing association between it and the legal profession, and the repercussions for Aboriginal people. The middle of this issue is devoted to poetry by seven poets including the always wonderful Shastra Deo with Tenor and Vehicles. But there is so much more: an experimental piece based on Sir Thomas Mitchell’s published diary; articles on beauty salons and water, on cyborgs and the German Revolution and on translating poetry. The fiction is once again a sample of what Australian writers are producing at the moment, and the issue is rounded out with the winners of the Fair Australia Prize competition in the categories of Fiction (Arjun Rajkhowa), Essay (Fiona Murphy – who contributed a piece on deafness and disability in the workplace that I found particularly compelling), Poetry (Guillermo Batiz), Cartoon (Adam Adelpour) and Migrant Worker Winner Cora Tate.
Literary journals are the beating heart and lifeblood of the Australian literary community and like any good box of chocolates, each issue is a great tasting sampler of the work currently being created.