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Open Secrets

272 pages
Paperback, 21 x 14.8 cm
Published May 2022
ISBN 9780648062165

Open Secrets

Essays on the Writing LifeEdited by Catriona Menzies-Pike

The lives of writers are a topic of perennial fascination to readers – and indeed to other writers. And yet the writer at work is often a mythologised figure, distant from the cares of the day. In Open Secrets, Australian writers reflect upon the material conditions that give rise to their writing practice. What is it that writers do with their days? These essays document writing lives defined as much by procrastination, distraction and economic precarity as by desire and imagination, by aesthetic and intellectual commitments. Labour is at the heart of this collection: creative labour, yes, but also the day jobs, side gigs, and care work that make space for writing. Bringing together an eclectic and distinctive set of writers, Open Secrets is a rich and provocative account of contemporary Australian literature.


The writers included in the collection are Sunil Badami, Vanessa Berry, Miro Bilbrough, Luke Carman, Lauren Carroll Harris, Maddee Clark, Justin Clemens, Lisa Fuller, Elena Gomez, Eda Gunaydin, Tom Lee, James Ley, Fiona Kelly McGregor, Oliver Mol, Suneeta Peres da Costa, Ellena Savage, McKenzie Wark, Laura Elizabeth Woollett and Fiona Wright.

Open Secrets is edited by Catriona Menzies-Pike, editor of the Sydney Review of Books. It follows the collections Second City and The Australian Face, both published by the Sydney Review of Books.

Special Offers

Sydney Review of Books: 3-book bundle
Buy The Australian Face  (2017), Second City (2021) and Open Secrets (2022) at a reduced price.


These are not poor-me stories of privileged people feeling sorry for themselves. They are frank explorations of ways of life that have come to seem natural, yet bizarre and oppressive at the same time. They beg the question: is it worth it?

Sydney Morning Herald

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Catriona Menzies-Pike: a note on Open Secrets

This book offers portholes into the places where writing happens and portals to the new worlds and ways of living it might create. These essays bear witness to the resilience required to commit to the writing life – and to the vital transformative possibilities of literature, for writers, for readers and our culture.

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