Review of “The Best Australian Essays 2012”


Sometimes I wonder if fear is the heart of fascination. To me, an editor’s job is a dark art. How do they see what must be made more visible, what excised, and from where to coax the emotions of authors and readers? It’s the ability to conceptualise a grand vision, but one that uses the raw material of other people’s creation.

When I chose The Best Australian Essays 2012 to read and review for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013, I wanted to shuffle in Ramona Koval’s footsteps. As editor, what had she selected and how had she arranged the essays? As a reader, how did her art affect me?

The answer is that the anthology informed, entertained and challenged me. Some of the essays were very personal, peeling off scabs and inviting us to paddle around in the blood; perhaps we could find meaning there? I enjoyed the more detached essays, but I’m aware that their attempted objectivity was the more effective for being surrounded by channelled emotion.

The essays reminded me how flawed we are, and how brave. If they shared a theme, it was their authors’ passionate desire to communicate.

You won’t like all the essays, and that is a sign of a robust selection. In the end, Ramona Koval did what all good editors do: made me think.

6 Replies to “Review of “The Best Australian Essays 2012””

  1. Great Neil,Your question was hilghy visionary and your audience really gave great advises. I am a new player in this social networking though I had blog and my own websites running up for last couple of months. Just never thought of devoting any time to this activity. I happened to be present at one of the session held by Mr. Kevin Boer, Director of Dumas group in Realtor Quest in Toronto that I decided to work on this. Thanks for your great compilation.

  2. I understand what you mean by the hardships of editor's profession. Indeed, their efforts are frequently left unnoticed and unappreciated though their contribution to the final results is tremendous. Thank you very much indeed for raising this important question.

  3. This was a profound post. Your first paragraph especially captured the heart of what makes an editor. It’s the hardest job in the world and the most unappreciated.

    Every time I work with an editor I feel blessed.

    1. Thanks, Maria.

      Editors are amazing. Their efforts are so seldom celebrated, but they have a profound impact on authors and on readers. And like you, I've been exceptionally lucky in the editors I've worked with.

    2. Bravo! Your communications stiaeegrts piece in right on the money.Now, can you help with repeating a great bucket at the range to18 respectable drives on Sunday morning?Many thanks,Chris