On Luck

On Luck

Little Books on Big Themes
(Melbourne University Press), 2008

Australia has always prided itself on its luck.

In her challenging, provocative essay Anne Summers picks apart this cherished belief, and suggests that maybe we can do better.

Australians’ fervent belief in luck is deeply etched in our consciousness. More than with the citizens of other countries, it affects the way we see most things. When someone escapes serious injury or death in an accident, we remark on how lucky they were. We don’t say they were unlucky to have had the accident in the first place.

In her challenging, provocative essay Anne Summers picks apart Australians’ cherished belief in luck and being lucky, and suggests that maybe we can do better.

Publication date: October 2008
Format: hardback, 96 pp
ISBN-10 : 0-522-85586-5
ISBN-13 : 978-0-522-85586-9

“I read Luck and absolutely loved it – it’s so terrific to see so much so acutely and smoothly put together and your point is well made: the essential passivity of thinking you’ll get lucky is indeed frightening, and I loved the magnificent exhortation at the end. I’m sure it’ll make a terrific impact.”

Anna Funder, author of Stasiland

Reviews:

“Generalisations about the national character always run the risk of overstating their case. But Anne Summers is on pretty safe ground when she talks about the way we have prided ourselves on our luck and made it the central motif of our way of life …” Fiona Capp, The Age, 6 December 2008 Read rest of the review

“Summers launches into a rattling yarn about a problem gambler whose daring and stealth were so spectacular she’s the sort of character Hollywood could make a gripping movie about. With practiced skill, Summers returns to the meteoric career of Renea Hughes, deftly tracing it to larger issues of systemic corruption in NSW.” Ken Haley, “Magnificent Obsession” The Canberra Times 11 October, 2008 p. 15

“Rather like Donald Horne’s oft-misquoted (and mis-remembered) “lucky country” epithet, Summers’s view of luck in the Australian context is double-edged and dangerous. Americans, she writes, have enshrined the right to happiness, while Australians want the right to pursue luck. Diana Simmonds, Sydney Alumni Magazine, Autumn 2009.

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