27 September 2023

Practice. Journalism, Essays and Criticism.

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Guy Rundle, Black Inc. $32.99.

Regarded as one of Australia’s sharpest and most entertaining minds, Guy Rundle is known for his unrefined sharpness and cheeky commentary.

Practice collects handsomely from the past two decades of Rundle’s fertile yield. As he puts it: “the writings in this collection are a scattering of the work I have published during a quarter-century as a writer-activist, journalist, pro writer and hack”.

“Inevitably, what has survived are the pieces with their own centre, standing apart from historical context and more discursive than much of what I have done over he past three decades.”

Practice ‘distils his best writing on politics, culture, class and more and includes new and previously unpublished material. In it, Rundle roves the campaign trails of Obama, Palin and Trump; rides the Amtrak around a desolate America; bails up Bob Katter and Pauline Hanson; and excavates the deeper meanings of True Detective and Joy Division’.

Playing nice is not the way to succeed in modern affairs of state as complex political dilemmas cannot be solved this way. The uproar and, at times, the loud voices are a constant.

It is the theme – of tension between the malfunction of political communication and the urgent need for progressive action – that’s prevalent throughout. In pieces for Crikey, Arena, and elsewhere, Rundle pulls the ‘rug out from under our politics, insisting that we’re plunging headlong into economic, social and ecological disaster, and that there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it’.

Censure covers literature and film. Rundle claims True Detective to be “the latest greatest-ever television series”. Portraits spear well-known people, while the compositions to say farewell to John Clarke and Pete Seeger tug at the heartstrings.

Distinguished academic Robert Manne has this to say about this prolific writer: “no Australian journalist knows as much, feels as deeply and thinks as hard as Guy Rundle – his work is touched by genius”.

Name the well-known Australian academic who praises Guy Rundle. If your answer is correct, then you could win one of two books of Practice.
Entries should be sent to [email protected] by next Monday, 3 June 2019. Names of the winners will be announced in Frank Cassidy’s PS-sssst…! column next Tuesday.

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