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Irony Alert!: This blog may be a tad contrary.

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December 14, 2007



For what it's worth. I would have liked the addition of your more personal comments. It's a little bland and distanced without them. They add a spice and flavour to the thing.


Yeah well, prose writing's all about voice in the end and narratival positioning in the end.

I think some of MEJ's caution may have rubbed off on me (blame her!).


Anything to do with Indig affairs is so fraught that noone wants to say anything.

The review actually made me want to read the book. I am fascinated by Indig issues, and so many people won't talk about it at all. I really think 'I don't know enough about it so I couldn't say' is such a cop out. Yet people say it constantly - as a kind of 'i'm sensitive to the issues and I know there are issues, and they're complicated, but I don't want to spend the time finding out.'

It can be hard to find out much from mainstream media though.

I'm a bit shocked that you think even devoting a year to it is no good or of minor value. It is more than most of us have done.

I"m rambling cos I'm having trouble working out what I'm trying to say - it seems to happen with anything Indigenous! I hope your US academic can follow the gist.


Interestingly, for me the review made me want to read the book, but your postscript comments made me think I would find it maddeningly non opinionated. I'll have to find True Country first, before even thinking about it.

I've read nearly all the other "Australian experiments in creative non-fiction" and loved all of them except the First Stone, so I'm definitely your target audience for this kind of writing.


Golly gosh, people reading my turgid review on a Fri night? What's the world coming to?

I wouldn't say not to read Balanda -- I think it's an interesting enough account of life in a community.

Seepi -- I agree it's a cop-out, but then I am someone who's chosen to get involved. No, a year isn't enough and an academic course of study won't tell you that much either. I see it as a lifelong commitment (I doubt I'll ever get away from these people).

Pavlov's Cat

Hmm. I dunno, I find it incredibly refreshing when people say they won't comment about something because they don't know enough about it. God knows that doesn't stop most people, and the blogosphere, like the MSM, is awash with people shouting opinions based on bugger all apart from ignorance and prejudice. (I once stopped my sister in her tracks when she was banging on about how she had a gut feeling about some issue or other by reminding her what her gut was full of.) The current flood of ill-informed frothing at the mouth about Aurukun is a case in point.


I meant that it's a cop-out in the sense that people don't try and apprise themselves of the facts or just take their cue from the Inquirer section of the Weekend Australian. I agree with you totally about the amount of opinionated bilge around.


yes - I think it is a cop out, because it basically means the speaker dones't care enough to try to find out. Yet people seem to think saying it makes them sensitive and considerate.

- What is the real story about Aurukun - enquiring minds want to know! It sounds pretty bad to me....


PS - LOVE the gut feeling comeback - I'm going to ave to borrow that.

Francis Xavier Holden

I found Balanda enjoyable to read and pretty good on content - esentially the experiences of a 24 (26?) year old tertiary educated Melbourne girl in the north.

I agree it at times seems extremely naive but again she was a inner Melbourne recent graduate of a non-community development / capacity building background with bugger all life experience. At the same time there is a mood of restraint motivated by respect and dignity that I sensed was inherent in the writer's approach (and makeup?) something that I admire and is at times increasingly hard to find.

Until my mid 20's I was a bush rural who worked and played with similar people to the "mercenaries" - I fitted in and didn't fit in. Moving to the city I still didn't fit in but there were enough misfits and anonymity to cobble together a loose peer group of sorts, many of them I realise later who had come from the bush skipping the suburbs directly to an urban sensibilty.

I've still felt awkward when living and working in the country and yet I still miss just calling into people's house without notice and walking around to the back door and inside.

I know I couldn't work or live up north even in the towns. I can't relate to the guys my age other than for a few hours and I can't stand the heat and dust. I'm sure I couldn't write about my experiences as well as Mary Ellen did and you continue to do.


Thanks. I think she is remarkably careful and cautious in writing Indigenous people in particular.

Francis Xavier Holden

Following on from the mention here i went out and borrowed TRUE COUNTRY. I finished it last night at 3 am. I enjoyed it although it too is not without it's faults.

I'd call them companion books - don't read one without the other.


Yeah, it's a first novel and it's quite uneven. But it very much evokes the feel of a community, for me at least.

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