Home' InDaily : September 18th 2009 Contents www.independentweekly.com.au
The Independent Weekly
September 18 - 24, 2009
Sunday Morning on Radio National
My attention is caught by
a poem read with the mellow voice
of Rachel Blake.
lean close to the radio,
the better to absorb
and understand the words.
I listen to the story.
Time is running late
and chores await
but I am chained
to the moment.
In that instance
I am aware of others --
hundreds, probably thousands --
all listening to the same words,
all leaning towards their radios,
an auditory communion
with a morning hit of caffeine.
The poem ends:
the thread is broken.
I straighten up and pull away
as Geraldine Doogue pays homage
to writer and reader and moves on.
Dorothy Shorne is a property adviser and
occasional poet, whose writing is more often heard
within her other role of civil celebrant.
Reader unpublished poems to 30 lines can be emailed
with postal address to poetscorner@independentweekly.
com.au or posted with an SAE to the Poetry Editor,
Independent Weekly, GPO Box 114 Adelaide 5001. A
poetry book will be awarded to each contributor.
POET S CORNER Compiled by John Miles
CONGA FABERGE BOOTH
ARDENT CAB AMENDING
ECSTATIC GNU BEAGLE
HELLENE CHOKO SAMBA
AZTEC OILED IMPLORE
YODELS ETA SUGGESTS
ELEVATED EVE HAZARD
TREAD ANSWERS YONKS
Solutions from 10
Winner of the 2008 Vogel Award,
Document Z is a fictionalised
account of the Petrov Affair -- a
bone fide Cold War episode that
took place in 1950s Canberra.
The Vogel is one of Australia's
most prestigious literary awards,
responsible for launching the
careers of writers such as Kate
Grenville, Andrew McGahn and
Tim Winton, and offering a prize
of $20,000 (Andrew Croome won an
extra $50,000 to mark the prize's 50th
anniversary). However, I was sadly
disappointed by the 2008 winner.
Based on extensive research
of recently declassified records
of the 1954 Royal Commission on
Espionage, Croome fictionalises
the characters of Evdokia Petrov,
her husband Vladimir and
another important player, Michael
Bialoguski. The life Croome
breathes into these characters
-- including his explora
tion of the personal co
of their defection -- is
the most successful
aspect of this novel.
Croome succeeds in
bringing Evdokia to
life, giving her a per-
sonality beyond that
which can be gleaned
likewise, he builds a
for Bialoguski as the
intent on recogni-
tion for his role in securing their
Document Z's main failing is that
it lacks narrative drive -- there is a
certain "so what?" factor.
It starts with a good hook:
Evdokia Petrov, wife of a Russian
defector, is being
put onto a plane
to be flown back
to Russia to face
even death for her
The book then goes
back three years
n time to tell the
etrovs' story and
ow it all came to
The main setting
r the early part
the novel is the
wly minted Soviet
embassy in the newly
minted national capital, Canberra.
It is 1951, the height of the Cold
War, and paranoia, rumour and
suspicion run rife at the embassy.
Both Petrovs are party loyalists
also working for the MVD, Moscow
secret intelligence. ASIO, often
referred to as "the competitors", is
determined to discover who in this
group works for the MVD.
The first part of the novel sets
the stage for the action that
eventuates, but it does so at extreme
Historical fiction has become a
massive genre over recent decades.
A problem with the fictionalisation
of more recent history is that events
remain in living memory and thus
can't be as easily manipulated as
history of a hundred years ago or
more. Croome sticks to the facts ...
and perhaps this is the problem.
The facts aren't that interesting and
so neither is the story.
Document Z also ends fairly
weakly, but this, too, is true to life.
Here, at novel's end, I began to
envisage the difficulty that must
have confronted Croome when
trying to shape these events into a
While his narrative style and
prose is excellent, this alone does
not a story make. If I haven't spent
much time here describing the plot,
it's because there isn't much of one.
The second half was better, but I
still struggled to finish the book.
Document Z seems to be a novel
about politics, but not a political
book. Soviet Russia is 20 years
dead; why is there now a need for
this book, retelling what is a minor
footnote in Australian history? Was
it simply that the ASIO documents
had been declassified, thus provid-
ing a wealth of useful material for
Still, if you are interested in
Australian history, the Cold War
and espionage, you may enjoy it
more than I did. -- Allen & Unwin,
-- Samantha Bond
BOOK REVIEW Document Z Andrew Croome
Vienna is the heartland of
orchestral music, accord-
ing to Australian-born
and internationally renowned
conductor Nicholas Milton, who
will bring a little of the city's
magic with him when he comes
to Adelaide next week.
Milton is conducting the
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
(ASO) for two nights in a
celebration of Viennese music.
The occasion is a highlight
on his calendar, as it brings
together many of the influences
that have played a large part in
"I used to play the violin
in the Adelaide Symphony
Orchestra and did a lot with
music from this period, so it's
music that I have a deep affinity
with," he said.
The ASO's Viennese
experience will focus on late
19th-century pieces. The waltz
style will feature heavily, but
Milton said the depth of the
music would have audiences
moving from one emotional
extreme to the next.
"Viennese waltz music
is wonderfully tuneful and
melodic, and the harmonies are
gorgeous. It is so romantic and
has, all at once, grace, charm,
beauty and delicacy."
These particular qualities lie
at the centre of all orchestral
music, Milton believes.
"The greatest musicians
love this music because they
recognise that it's music of the
highest art form."
The ASO has a particular
connection with the music
of Vienna, going back to its
time under the stewardship
of Austrian conductor Henry
Krips between 1949 and 1972.
Milton said Krips' influence
had been passed down through
the years, giving the orchestra
a particular flair for executing
this style of concert.
"He gave the orchestra a very
special feeling and now they
have a very authentic Viennese
style. It's a culture that was
The orchestra will tackle
pieces from the Strauss family
catalogue, which is another plus
for Milton. He started his career
as a specialist violinist, so the
transition to conductor has
been eased by the tradition of
greats such as Johann Strauss.
"When this music was first
performed, it was conducted
by the violinist," Milton said.
"Johann Strauss was a violinist
and he would stand up and play.
It's not music that really has a
Because of this, Milton
said his conducting role for
these performances was about
"bringing it all together", rather
than instructing the musicians
how the pieces should be
A heavy touring schedule
takes him around the world
every year, with regular
appointments in places such
as Croatia, Germany and
Australia. Milton will be in
Adelaide for less than a week
before heading back to Europe
in preparation for a busy season
that includes his debut with
the Vienna Philharmonic and
stints with other large German
The intensive nature of his
touring makes the upcoming
ASO concert a rarity.
"It's a very unique experience
conducting in Australia. I don't
get to do that much any more,"
The Adelaide Festival Theatre
will host the ASO in Vienna,
conducted by Nicholas Milton, on
September 25 and 26.
From the heartland
Nicholas Milton will conduct
the Adelaide Symphony
Orchestra for its two-concert
celebration of Viennese music.
Photo: Daniel Linnet
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