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I’ve decided to write a sequel to my piece about DFW and American drug lit, and talk about how five Aussie writers have handled the same topic. But don’t worry, most of these people have been published in the US and Britain so this isn’t just for Australians. Bear in mind that I’m a bit patriotic here – two of them get a thumbs-up, two get a thumbs-down and one gets a thumb to the side.

As you can see, I’m counting down here – worst first! Also, since I’ve recently been forced to move thanks to bedbugs, most of my books have either been thrown away or put into storage. So, I’m quoting ALL of the books in this article from memory. It’s been OVER FOUR MONTHS since I read any of them. The wording mightn’t be exact, but I’ve tried hard to keep to the spirit of the prose. It’s also the most I’ll be writing about drugs for the time being. So here’s to a few loose ends. (more…)

Posted: June 8th, 2011

From The eXiled’s Australasia Correspondent

PERTH, AUSTRALIA–You have to give David Foster Wallace some credit – he was better at making his fans bash themselves than any other writer of the Pynchon school. His magnum opus, Infinite Jest, is a 1000-page novel full of intestinally-shaped sentences and fine-print notes on calculus, organic chemistry and VCR programming. Normally, when a book like that comes out, people realise its purpose right away: terrorising B.A. students into meek submission. Wallace, however, found a very shrewd way to counter this by pretending that his work was really “a late-night conversation with really good friends, when the bullshit stops and the masks come off.” So instead of menacing the reader in the old Joycean way, Wallace chums it up whenever the technical stuff appears, acting like he really doesn’t mean to discourage anyone. Swapping lecture theatre dread for tutorial group paternalism – that’s the aesthetic in a nutshell. (And even if he IS being dense on purpose, it’s all for our own good of course.) (more…)

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Posted: May 23rd, 2011

shite2 computer.

From The eXiled’s Special Australasia Correspondent

PERTH, AUSTRALIA–First, the Right accused WikiLeaks of endangering US soldiers and Afghan informers. Then after “Cablegate” the neocons conceded to the lack of evidence and switched to the opposite tactic: insisting there was nothing exciting at all about Julian Assange’s leaks. Spectator editorials appeared, claiming we already knew Sarkozy was a narcissist and Berlusconi was a womaniser. This didn’t work either. The cables had a lot of new information about DynCorp bribing Afghan police with “dancing boys” and Mubarak telling the US to install a “fair dictator” in Iraq.

Now a much easier way to discredit WikiLeaks has emerged: attacking Assange as a human being. It’s easy because there’s no need to touch any wider political issues. It’s damaging because (regardless of how right he is) Assange still needs technicians to work for him and a well-timed mutiny could hurt his organisation more than any external pressure. Worse, the man probably is a dickhead. He’s a brave dickhead, a talented dickhead, a necessary dickhead. He has a better chance of crippling the war effort than any of his competitors. But none of that makes him easy to work with. And WikiLeaks doesn’t just need volunteers, but extremely skilled ones who can maintain large servers and keep them running after all sorts of cyber attacks. (more…)

Posted: March 2nd, 2011

kevin-rudd full of shit

From The eXiled’s Special Australasia Correspondent

PERTH, AUSTRALIA–A few hours ago (as of writing this), Julian Assange released his first US Embassy cable regarding Australian politics. It’s still too early for me to make my mind up, but it’s never too early to speculate. If the cable is genuine, it might be the most delicious disgrace in Prime Ministerial history – my brain’s tall poppy receptors are already tingling at the idea that it’s a real communiqué. Still, the whole thing is a little too perfect.

According to the cable, our former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, made some unfortunate comments about China in a 75-minute meeting with Hillary Clinton. According to Rudd, China’s leaders are “sub-rational” and America should be ready to “deploy force” if diplomacy fails. Even more damning (at least, supposedly) is his claim that Australia’s plans to expand its submarine fleet were “a response to China’s growing ability to project force.” (more…)

Posted: December 6th, 2010


PERTH — Western Australia is one of Oceania’s best sources of grotesquerie. In the same way the Southern States serve America, Western Australia provides an endless supply of serial killing tales, small-town hatred and supernatural horror. Melbourne might be the place to visit if you want to see Victorian Gothic buildings and spooky thickets of pale, twisted eucalypts. Northern Queensland is fine for gigantic nettle trees, box jellyfish and coastal taipans. But West Australian grotesquerie is far more depressing and resilient, probably because WA (Western Australia) is larger than Greenland and every administrative region in Siberia excepting Yakutia. There aren’t enough yuppies in the world to gentrify an area that size. (more…)

Posted: October 7th, 2010

amis hitchens smoking

“C’mon cancer, I dare you to knock this sneer off my face.”

Since writing my last piece on Hitchens (“How Christopher Hitchens Robbed Hunter S. Thompson’s Grave”), I’ve finally found a widow smart enough to give Blitcons a massive up-yours. At around the same time Hitchens’ character assassination of Gore Vidal hit American newsstands, retired BBC news anchor Anna Ford wrote a letter to The Guardian accusing him and Amis of smoking over the hospital bed of her dying husband, Mark Boxer.

According to Ford, not only did the two Blitcons fill his room with enough carbon monoxide to de-chav an entire council estate, but they “exhausted” the poor moribund by overstaying their welcome. Their visit, apparently, was “not borne just of affection” but also to kill time before their next flight left at Heathrow. (more…)

Posted: September 16th, 2010


Ancient Gonzo Wisdom should be a perfect book: a collection of all the interviews Hunter S. Thompson ever gave. It begins with a talk Thompson gave on ABC News in 1967, shortly after Hell’s Angels was released. It ends with his last ever interview, a Playboy piece by eXiled contributor Tim Mohr, one of the best in the collection. Mohr had the reasonably good idea of giving Thompson a list of topics (“Violence,” “Nutrition,” “Reading,” “Firearms”) and letting him speak freely about them instead of framing the interview in questions. (After all, Thompson’s already been asked a million variations of “What role do drugs play in your writing?” and “What are your views on objectivity?”.)

My favourite one is “On Medicine”:

“A lot of doctors are reluctant to take responsibility for me. Nobody wants to be the doctor who killed Hunter Thompson. I don’t trust the medical establishment, but I do trust individual doctors. I’m straight with doctors. They have to learn that they can talk straight to me too. There’s no point in trying to conceal anything. I appreciate the ones who take risks on me, and I have to look out for the chickenshits.”

There, the latest evidence that Thompson was right up there with Beowulf, William Tell and the bogatyri. Telling a doctor outright you’re looking for drugs requires a heroic level of bravery, and getting drugs after admitting a fancy to them takes frightening eloquence. 356 pages of Thompson’s bravery and eloquence should be something to celebrate, right?

It would be, if pages xiii-xx weren’t written by Christopher Hitchens. (more…)

Posted: September 11th, 2010