puff

"One of my favourite Australian writers of his generation, David Free has the rare gift of writing critical prose with a creative dimension. Whether talking about high culture, popular culture or both at once, he is the master of the line of argument that makes you hungry for what happens next. Such a knack for turning the process of thought into a dramatic narrative is given to few, but he not only has it, he seems determined to develop it to the limit. His plain, natural but invariably melodic style combines appreciation and judgment in an addictive blend, the appreciation deep and wide-ranging, the judgment precise and sane. His powers of illustration leave most poets and novelists sounding short of skill, and how they leave most other critics sounding it would be impolite for me to mention. Enough to say that he is many furrows ahead in his field." — Clive James

Saturday, November 11, 2023

The Podcast

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, I'm releasing a longform podcast this year, entitled Ghosts of Dallas, that will tell the epic story of Kennedy conspiracism. 

Why is it that more than half the American population has always believed there was a conspiracy behind Kennedy's death? Who were the pioneers who made JFK denialism into an industry? How did six decades of myth-making about Kennedy's murder set the scene for the conspiratorial presidency of Donald J. Trump? And why did Jack Ruby bring his favourite sausage dog along on the morning he shot Lee Harvey Oswald?

Episodes 1-10 are available now wherever you get your podcasts.

  

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Martin Amis 1949 - 2023

When Martin Amis died in May, I caught the announcement at the tail end of a TV news crawl. Hoping I’d misread the flash, I Googled Amis’s name. The top search result offered the standard pr├ęcis of his Wikipedia entry. “Martin Amis,” it began, “is an English novelist …” 

The present tense was heartening. Maybe I’d been seeing things. Then I clicked through to the full wiki, which began: “Martin Amis was an English novelist …” 

So it was true. Wikipedia had absorbed the news and moved on, but Google’s webcrawler was still in denial. I therefore had one last chance to think of Amis as a living presence, before watching him vanish for good into the past tense ... [read more]

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Cookbooks

Name one facet of Australian culture that has unquestionably improved over the last fifty years. Movies? TV? Popular music? Literary fiction? 

You could argue, if you wanted to, that some or all of these things are better than they used to be. But in each case the claim would be debatable, as such claims generally are. Cultural judgments are nearly always a matter of opinion, not of objective fact. 

But I think there’s one element of our culture that is measurably, and irrefutably, better than it’s ever been. Food. What serious human being would claim that food was better fifty years ago than it is now?
[read more]

Monday, June 5, 2023

Hillsong

As a rule, it’s a bad sign when multiple documentaries and podcasts about you come out simultaneously. A single documentary can be cause for celebration. Two or three at once is rarely a reason to break out the champagne. More than three and you’re really in strife. 

A few years ago, Lance Armstrong got the multiple documentary treatment. More recently it happened to Elizabeth Holmes, and the late Jeffrey Epstein, and the organisers of the hilariously disastrous Fyre festival. 

Now it’s the season of the Hillsong documentary ...
[read more]