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"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
Contact: freenetmail[at]yahoo.com

Tuesday, December 12, 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 1-11 are available now wherever you get your podcasts.

  

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

60 Years of JFK Conspiracy Theory

60 years ago this week, a nasty loner with a cheap rifle changed the course of history. At 12:30 on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, as his open-topped limousine moved through an echoey, wedge-shaped city park called Dealey Plaza. 

Most witnesses heard three shots. One witness saw a gunman aim and fire the third from an upper window of the Texas Schoolbook Depository. Before police could seal the building off, a 24-year-old Depository employee – an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald – left via the front door ... [
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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 prĂ©cis 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?
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