The Monthly

When I collected my subscription copy of The Monthly from the letter-box yesterday, I had an irrational impulse to drop it in the bin on the way back into the house. Yet again the cover features a photo portrait of a public figure – a politician like the majority of the other cover photos. Here are the last 12 months’ covers:

August 2009: Nick Cave (not a politician, but a media personality, which is the other frequently occurring category of citizen)
September 2009: A photo of the fence at Christmas Island, one of two covers that’s not a portrait
October 2009: Julia Gillard
November 2009: James Murdoch
December 2009–January 2010: Nicole Kidman
February 2010: Tony Abbott
March 2010: Germaine Greer
April 2010: A couple of cherries – the only cover of the twelve to display something like metaphor
May 2010: Tony Abbott again (on a bike this time)
June 2010: Barack Obama (at least he’s not an Australian politician, but it is his third appearance on the cover in 18 months )
July 2010: Bob Brown
August 2010: Julia Gillard again, this time with make-up

If you can recycle your cover ideas so blithely, I can do some recycling of my own, was my unbidden thought.

As it turns out, I’m glad I restrained the impulse to recycle, because in particular of Mark Aarons’ piece which explains in words I can understand how the current approach to polling and policy-making in the ALP is different (and more cynical and strikingly less successful) than in the past, and for David Malouf’s wonderful essay, ‘States of the Nation’, on our Federation. I love this paragraph:

Federation may have established the nation and bonded the people of the various states into one, but nations and peoples, unless they arise naturally, the one out of the other, rather than by referendum or by edict, are likely to be doubtful entities, and the relationship between them will be open to almost continuous question. Of course when they arise too naturally – that is, when they claim to belong to nature rather than human choice – they are dangerous.

How good it is that David Malouf’s sharp, engaged, generous mind is gracing The Monthly‘s pages – and grace is something that Malouf has in spades. What a relief that Louis Nowra’s grumpy ad-mulierem pieces are not to be the dominant voice.

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