Review of Creme de Ia Phlegm: Unforgettable Australian Reviews, edited by Angela Bennie
Angela Bennie's Creme de Ia Phlegm collects Australian book reviews published in the so-called mainstream press, including state and national newspapers, and journals such as Australian Book Review. It is organised chronologically, from the 1950s to 2005. The collection, its title taken from a Gideon Haigh review, is framed by Bennie's commentary on what she perceives to be the woeful state of contemporary reviewing in Australia. Her preface commences: 'This book is not a history of Australian criticism, but a critique of it' (xi), the focus being 'on how negative criticism is written and received and what that might tell us about the wider culture' (xi). In 'Crrritics!', her lengthy introductory essay, she aims to critique the 'appallingly ill-informed critical climate in which most works of art are now assessed' (47), a climate in which Australian 'artists struggle to survive' (xi). Her ultimate aim in collecting these negative reviews is to highlight the need for a change to reviewing practices.
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