The Weekend Australian - Review - - Viewpoints -

IT’S fine for Kit MacFar­lane to dis­cuss the evo­lu­tion of by- prod­ucts of to­day’s pop­u­lar mu­sic in­dus­try ( Re­view , Fe­bru­ary 16- 17) but a more im­por­tant ques­tion is when was the last time you heard some­one whistling a pop­u­lar tune? Any tune? At work? In the street? At a train sta­tion or a bus stop? The work­places of me­chan­ics, pan­el­beat­ers, car­pen­ters, plumbers, in­deed all those places where peo­ple work with their hands, once re­sounded to the whis­tled hummed and sung pop mu­sic of the day. There were fa­mous whistlers and whistling con­tests. All this has gone. The rea­sons are plain enough and so is the fact that we are the poorer for the loss. John Fowke Thorn­lands, Queens­land I HAVE sel­dom read a more nau­se­at­ing ex­am­ple of sel­f­righ­teous char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion than the piece by Ruth Franklin about Irene Nemirovsky ( Re­view , Fe­bru­ary 9- 10). Set­ting one­self up as a moral judge, from the com­pla­cent safety of 2008, of a writer who died in Auschwitz takes some nerve and lack of squeamish­ness, that’s for sure. And the un­der­ly­ing im­pli­ca­tion that a Jewish writer must not only not ex­hibit any un­pleas­ant per­son­al­ity traits or self- delu­sions, but must also por­tray Jewish char­ac­ters in her nov­els in a uni­formly good light as shin­ing saints, is ob­nox­ious and ridicu­lous. It is ex­tra­or­di­nary that out of the hor­ror and ter­ror of what was hap­pen­ing to her and her fam­ily, Irene Nemirovsky could be so clear- eyed about what was hap­pen­ing to her adop­tive coun­try. Even in­com­plete as it is, Suite Fran­caise is a true mas­ter­piece which, more than any other novel I have read about the pe­riod, con­veys ab­so­lutely the phys­i­cal, moral and spir­i­tual catas­tro­phe that was the col­lapse of France and the Ger­man oc­cu­pa­tion. So­phie Mas­son Ar­mi­dale, NSW JEN­NIFER Hewett’s pa­tro­n­is­ing tone in the first para­graphs of her re­view of Naomi Wolf’s new book ( Re­view , Fe­bru­ary 16- 17) be­trayed a bias that un­der­mined her cred­i­bil­ity as a critic and my at­ten­tion to the rest of the ar­ti­cle. Wolf’s ar­gu­ments are strong, and re­flect con­cerns held by many in­formed Amer­i­can and global cit­i­zens. Kelly Sum­ner Bris­bane IT is not re­ally Jane Fraser’s prover­bial tip of the ice­berg that should con­cern Brian Daniels ( Re­view, Fe­bru­ary 23- 24), but rather that dark un­spo­ken part of the ‘‘ tra­di­tional say­ing’’ that warns of the dan­gers of the great mass of un­seen ice be­neath the wa­ter. The kind of good ‘‘ ad­vice’’ that sur­vivors of the prover­bial Ti­tanic could have given him is to for­get about the prover­bial deckchair ar­range­ments, re­lax and en­joy the mean­ing, hu­mour and moral con­tent of Jane’s prover­bial wis­dom. As an­other writer from Africa, Chinua Achebe, said: ‘‘ Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.’’ David Cur­tis Eden, NSW

Write to re­view@ theaus­tralian. com. au


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