Books

Ugly Australians

Sam De Brito keeps a blog called All Men Are Liars over at the Sydney Morning Herald website. It’s popular and very interactive. He posts most days with something provocative, usually about masculinity and gender issues, and his sizable readership will run with it for a few hundred comments.

I read it pretty regularly, not without a certain guilt. The generalizations about gender roles can be pretty crude and it’s mostly entertaining from a voyeuristic angle. Occasionally he’s right on the money and it’s those moments of insight that keep me coming back.

Now he’s branched out into fiction with a novel called The Lost Boys. De Brito has tried his hand at a book before: No Tattoos Before You’re Thirty is a little pocket-sized volume of advice that Sam would give his unborn (and unconceived) offspring. Now he’s trying something more ambitious.

If you’ve read All Men Are Liars for any length of time, you’ll have a pretty clear idea what’s in store. Sam’s not shy about talking up his past and there’s a strong autobiographical element to The Lost Boys. Young blokes go out, do stupid things, keep doing stupid things and wake up in their thirties wondering what happened. There’s a lot of sex, drugs and general misbehavior.

I’ve picked up a copy in a bookshop, flicked through it and put it back on the shelf on a few occasions. I’m sure there are some interesting insights into the psyche of young Australian men, but the passages I’ve read are so full of misogyny and unrelenting squalor that I just couldn’t be bothered.

That’s the problem with “gritty” literature. In some shorter art forms, say films or photography or journalism, grime and unpleasantness can be exciting -- over a 400 page book, it can be draining.

That might be worth it for a brilliant statement about society, but De Brito doesn’t really speak for Australian Masculinity, if there is such thing. He speaks for a subculture of lower middle-class urban thirtysomethings, the products of a very specific time and place. There are any number of Aussie males who would struggle to see much of themselves in these lost boys. There are big themes involved, but they tend to get buried in all the extreme behavior.

Most of us have a tendency to universalize our experiences and writers only more so. It goes something like “I’m a man, therefore this is what men are.” Maybe De Brito’s goal is something less grand, but from his blog and the publicity around the book, it seems as if he’s trying to take the pulse of an entire gender.

Who will The Lost Boys appeal to? Probably not the Maroubra Beach toughs that De Brito is depicting. Readers of new Australian fiction tend to be a more sensitive lot. Maybe a lot of men will read it with a sigh of relief, “Thank God I’m not like that.” I don’t think that was the author’s point.

Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Music

Roots Rocker Webb Wilder Shares a "Night Without Love" (premiere + interview)

Veteran roots rocker Webb Wilder turns back the hands of time on an old favorite of his with "Night Without Love".

Film

The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.

Music

July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.

Music

With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.

Film

Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.

Music

MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.

Books

Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.

Film

Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.

Music

John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."

Books

'Run-Out Groove' Shows the Dark Side of Capitol Records

Music promoter Dave Morrell's memoir, Run Out Groove, recalls the underbelly of the mainstream music industry.

Film

It's a Helluva of a World in Alain Corneau's 'Série Noire'

Alain Corneau's Série Noire is like a documentary of squalid desperation, albeit a slightly heightened and sardonic one.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.