I have grown past hate and bitterness,
I see the world as one;
But though I can no longer hate,
My son is still my son.
All men at God’s round table sit,
and all men must be fed;
But this loaf in my hand,
This loaf is my son’s bread.
My friend, Silvia, asked me last week for the name of a single book to explain Australia - the quintessential iconic book, as it were, and in doing so, she put me into a state of panic. A friend did the same thing to me on FB once too, and I found the brief just as hard. To define an entire country within the pages of one single book is, for me, at least, almost impossible.
Finally, after harassing me endlessly, she agreed last night to a list. Now a list, I can do. So here, my demanding friend, is my list of must read Aussie books. It is not complete. There are many, many great Aussie books. Some you may not like; others you will. But by reading them, you will at least get some idea of what makes my country different from yours. And that was what you were asking for, I think. So, without further ado, the list:
Everything by A B Paterson, but especially The Man from Snowy River
The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, but especially Doreen, by C J Dennis
No More Boomerang by Oodgeroo Noonuccal
The Drover's Wife by Henry Lawson
Children's/ YA Books:
Seven Little Australians 1894) by Ethel Turner
The Billabong Series (1910 and following) by Mary Grant Bruce
The Getting of Wisdom (1910) by Henry Handel Richardson
The Magic Pudding (1918) by Norman Lindsay
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1967) by Joan Lindsay
Longtime Passing (1971)by Hesba Brinsmead
Storm Boy (1976) by Colin Thiele
Robbery Under Arms (1888) by Rolf Bolderwood
Such is Life (1897) by Tom Collins
His Natural Life (1872) by Marcus Clarke
My Brilliant Career (1901)by Miles Franklin
We of the Never Never (1927) by Mrs Aeneas Gunn
A Fortunate Life (1981) by A B Facey
The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith (1972) by Thomas Keneally
Monkey Grip (1977) by Helen Garner
Tirra Lirra by the River (1978) by Jessica Anderson
Milk and Honey (1984) by Elizabeth Jolley
The Fatal Shore (1986) by Robert Hughes
My Place by (1987) Sally Morgan
Cloudstreet (1991)by Tim Winton
True History of the Kelly Gang (2000) by Peter Carey
So there you are, Silvia. These are not all easy reading - they are not all your kind of books, but by the time you read all these I will need to accord you honorary Aussie status. At the very least you'll have a pretty good idea of what makes us tick!!
For the rest of you, what would you add? What would you leave out? What are you scandalised about? This is just a start. Let's make it better!
Hopefully it will at least get Silvia off my back. (Tee Hee)