Friday, October 11, 2013

Swingland: Between the Sheets of the Secretive, Sometimes Messy, but Always Adventurous Swinging Lifestyle

We pull back the curtain of the fascinating and often misunderstood subculture of the swinging lifestyle, and chat to Daniel Stern, author of Swingland.

How did you get into the swinging lifestyle, and what attracted you to it in the first place?

I didn't seek out the lifestyle only because I didn't know it existed. By my late-20s, all I knew was I sucked at sex and desperately wanted to improve. All the sex I'd had took place in committed relationships and, I'd found, the emotional entanglements of relationships were distracting me from sexual improvement, which, in turn, precluded me from completely engaging in a relationship. It was a vicious circle that wasn't going to resolve on its own. So, I dedicated myself to sexual batting practice. After months of flat-out rejection from internet searches for casual sex, I started getting nibbles and, eventually, worked my way into NSA (No Strings Attached) sex. Not long after, I learned of “the Lifestyle” and was off and running.

Friday, October 4, 2013

To Serve and Protect: Australia’s public sphere

Black Inc. and Quarterly Essay editor Chris Feik writes about the importance of a healthy public sphere in an extract from the forthcoming book of essays State of the Nation: Essays for Robert Manne.

For several years I have worked not so much in as on the public sphere. I have done this work mainly with Morry Schwartz, on books, the Quarterly Essay journal and The Monthly magazine. I say on not in because I am not so much a contributor to the public sphere as a kind of facilitator of it. My role has been to maintain places for writers to produce work of public interest that is then offered up to a commercial world of readers. In doing this, I’ve developed an interest in what makes for a secure and flourishing public sphere, what kinds of writing are most distinctive to it, and whether Australia indeed has a healthy public sphere.

First, there is the idea of a healthy national debate. I believe that a public sphere can be both corrupted and redeemed. The United States, I think, offers some very clear recent examples of this. With the George W. Bush administration and the Iraq War, we saw a concerted effort to ‘fix the facts around the policy’. Evidence about weapons of mass destruction was distorted or exaggerated in the service of a policy and an underlying world view. Unsupportable or dubious claims were made to the United Nations and in the media about military capabilities and al-Qaeda links; the doubts of UN inspectors were dismissed out of hand. On this view, the public sphere – especially in the form of critics and independent forums – was something to be shaped, suppressed and bullied. We saw papers such as the New York Times buckle, and unlikely possibilities aggressively presented as certainties by government. Later the Times would apologise for ‘coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been’ and acknowledge unbalanced reportage and instances when it ‘fell for misinformation’.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Best Australian Writing 2013

We’re delighted to announce the contributors for The Best Australian Stories 2013, edited by Kim Scott, The Best Australian Essays 2013, edited by Robert Manne and The Best Australian Poems 2013 edited by Lisa Gorton.

Contributors include Helen Garner, JM Coetzee, Richard Flanagan, Murray Bail, Anna Goldsworthy, Christos Tsiolkas, Alice Pung, Simon Leys, Julian Assange, Chloe Hooper, Cate Kennedy, Favel Parrett, Ryan O’Neill, Tony Birch, Georgia Blain, Ashley Hay, David Malouf, Les Murray, John Kinsella, Ali Alizadeh, Peter Porter, Judith Rodriguez and many more.

To see a list of all the contributors visit

The Best Australian Stories, Essays and Poems will be released on Monday 4 November.