I’m genuinely sorry that Quadrant‘s Literature Board grant has been cut. Quadrant is one of a tiny handful of publications that has actually paid me money for stuff I’ve written. But Keith Windschuttle doesn’t do anything for his reputation, such as it is, for distinguishing between verifiable fact and self-serving opinion or even pure invention when he asserts, ‘This Literature Board has made a patently political decision.’ He characterises Meanjin, Overland and Australian Book Review as ‘overtly left-wing publications’ and asserts that they carry only a fraction of Quadrant‘s literary content.
Well, Meanjin and Overland may come out less frequently than Quadrant, and Overland may be described in the pages of The Australian as loony left. But for what it’s worth, I think Windschuttle is blowing smoke. I’m most of the way through the current Overland, and at a rough count I’d say all but 10 of its 104 pages are taken up with literary content, as opposed to roughly a third of the 96-page issue of Quadrant I have to hand (March 2007). If Quadrant comes out twice as often as Overland, that suggests something like 64 pages of literary content to Overland‘s 90. Of course, it depends what you call literary: I’m including an analysis of the art of computer games in one publication and some intensely political book reviews in the other. Also of course, 90/64 is still a fraction, so Windschuttle’s assertion may still be literally correct. It’s been a while since I read an issue of Meanjin. I had a look at a copy in Gleebooks the other day and was deterred from buying it by the sheer number of words: tiny type and hundreds of pages. Good luck to them whose eyes are up to it, I thought. Windschuttle’s claim looks even less plausible there.
As for the overtly left-wing qualities, I would have thought that Overland‘s left perspective was at least as unwelcome in Kevin Rudd’s parlour as Quadrant‘s right. Overland published Germaine Greer’s intemperate criticism of Rudd earlier this year, and the current issue’s one piece of political commentary, Guy Rundle’s ‘When the rubric hits the Rudd’ (terrible title), includes this:
Ruddism is a mode of post-social democratic labour adapted to Australian conditions and history, one that displays no real interest in challenging an atomised neoliberal social order and must therefore explore increasingly specific coercive measures in the management of a population.
Yes, Keith, one can just see Kevin on the phone to his minions at the Australia Council: ‘Send that man a pile of gold.’