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Church attendance has been plummeting for decades, yet enrolments for church-based schools are soaring. Nearly all non-churchgoers say that they like having a church in their suburb – although they never go inside it. Leading social researcher HUGH MACKAY takes a look at our contradictory attitudes to religion in his new book, Beyond Belief. In this article, Hugh recounts a part of his own spiritual journey and how he came to write the book.
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Articles in this issue

Archive Discoveries

  • Born in London, retired doctor TONY ATKINSON spent the first years of his life in a cage dangling out of a window. But he went on to serve the Queen and Winston Churchill during his early career as a footman and waiter, which he recalls in hilarious stories in he memoir, A Prescribed Life. Read on >
  • When she’s not training her inquisitorial blowtorch on politicians and other people who have questions to answer, ABC reporter and presenter SARAH FERGUSON loves to delve into a book. Her new book, The Killing Season Uncut, recounts the behind-the-scenes tales of the television program about the tumultuous Rudd–Gillard years. We asked the multi-award winning Four Corners reporter to tell us about the books that have influenced her. Read on >
  • Alison Evans is a genderqueer writer, lover of bad movies, and co-founder of the zine Concrete Queers. Here Alison tells us about her new spec-fic novel, Ida, and non-binary identities in YA fiction. Read on >
  • If you think of the German navy in World War II, then you probably conjure up images of grand-scale conflicts such as the Battle of the Atlantic or the Baltic Sea campaigns. But not so many people are aware that German ships were also on the prowl down in the South Pacific and in the Indian Ocean, where they disguised themselves as ordinary freighters before launching their deadly assaults on unsuspecting Allied craft. False Flags, a new account by Canberra author STEPHEN ROBINSON, tells the story of four German raiders, including the infamous attack by one of them, the Kormoran, on the HMAS Sydney in 1941. GRANT HANSEN reports. Read on >
  • We talk with PATRICK HOLLAND, a longlist nominee for the 2011 Miles Franklin Award for his novel The Mary Smokes Boys, about his new novel, One, which tells the story of the real-life Kenniff brothers. These two late-19th-century Queenslanders were Australia’s last bushrangers, and vPatrick questions the extent of their supposed villainy. Read on >
  • Heart surgeon PROFESSOR STEPHEN WESTABY has worked for 35 years to save ailing hearts and, in many cases, give his patients a second chance at life. In his new memoir, Fragile Lives, Westaby recounts remarkable and poignant cases, such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks before reaching six months of age. We asked him to tell us a bit about his life as a surgeon. Read on >
  • The town of Sorrento in southern Italy sits high on a clff above the Tyrrhenian Sea, whose waters are sobuoyant and warm that you can doze off while floating on its surface. But as author KATE FURNIVALL found, the nearby city of Naples is steeped in a history of danger and wartime poverty. The UK author tells gr her latest novel, The Liberation, was inspired by the secret tunnels, mafia strongholds and the of child street gangs she encountered on a recent visit to the Bay of Naples. Read on >
  • ANGUS DALTON meets British historian, journalist and author L S HILTON as she publicises the most hotly anticipated thriller of 2016, Maestra. Read on >
  • As a teenager, GAYLE FORMAN was so obsessed with ‘80s movie star Molly Ringwald that she started to imitate the actress’s trademark nervous lip bite – and now she has a permanent scar. After seven bestselling YA novels and a successful movie adaption of one of her books, she talks with ANGUS DALTON about her first book for adults, Leave Me. Read on >
  • The 1970s and 80s saw DAVE WARNER lead two influential punk-rock bands. His demanding musician’s lifestyle left little time for writing anything but his next single. Nowadays Dave is a full-time screenwriter, novelist and playwright, but he still takes to the stage every so often for a good old-fashioned rock-out. ANGUS DALTON finds out more about Dave’s life and his latest crime novel, Before It Breaks. Read on >
  • Aristotle said that metaphor consists in giving a thing a name that belongs to something else. Shakespeare used metaphor when he wrote ‘All the world’s a stage’, drawing parallels between the planet and a theatrical performance space so that we might more easily understand what the world is like. Metaphors, by likening one thing to another, help us to understand things, or aspects of them, that might otherwise be difficult to comprehend. In Metaphors Be With You, DR MARDY GROTHE takes a historical look at how metaphors have been used to understand a huge range of topics, from adversity, beauty and curiosity through to love, war and vanity. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue