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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 8 (November 1, 1937)



“Best Australian One-Act Plays” edited by William Moore and T. Inglis-Moore (Angus & Robertson, Sydney) is the first comprehensive collection of plays published in Australia.

The editors have done well. From nearly two hundred plays submitted they have selected twenty-one plays, each of unusual and distinctive merit. Of course William Moore is one of the greatest play enthusiasts in Australia and his fine judgment coupled with the keen critical ability of Inglis Moore has resulted in the admirable selection made. Tragedy, fantasy and humour are represented in a collection of remarkably diversified range of theme. We find pages from the past turned over in an ingenius play, “The Fourposter,” by Dora Wilcox, we hear the plants whispering their fear of garden slugs in the verse play, “Garden Fantasia,” and then we plunge deep into tragedy in the radio play, “Murder in the Silo.” Many of Australia's leading writers are represented in the book, Vance Palmer, Louis Esson, Katherine Susannah Prit chard, Bernard Cronin, Miles Franklin, etc. Play writing has been called “the Cinderella of Australian literature,” but judging by this collection, the Fairy Godmother has, of late, been very diligent in the bestowal of her favours.

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“A Murder in Sydney,” by Leonard Mann (Angus & Robertson, Sydney) brought enthusiastic reviews from the English critics when it was published in London recently. The Australian edition has naturally been awaited with great interest. Certainly it is a most unusual story. The souls and passions of the principal characters are ruthlessly analysed. Although there is a murder, there is no mystery, yet the story does not lose interest on this account. I must confess that although the book held me it depressed me. The over-powering atmosphere of sex annoyed me. It is certainly a remarkable yarn and Leonard Mann is a remarkable writer.

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Perhaps it is rather late in the day, but even now I think a saleable and certainly a most interesting volume could be linked together by quoting poems and paragraphs from the host of digger journals published in camp, on troopship, or in the trenches, during the Great War. Hundreds of such magazines were issued by Australian and New Zealand soldiers and while much of the material is either poor in content or devoid of general reading interest, much grain might be sifted from the chaff.

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