Friday, April 17, 2009


A man has an interview for immigration into Australia. The interviewer says to him, "Do you have a police record?" "What?" replies the man. "Do you still need one to get in?"

Question: What's Australian for foreplay? Answer: When the man says, "Wake up, Sheila."

G'day Mate, Don't be a drongo, We'll hit the turps in the land Down Under with the roos and Joeys and have a ripper time. You got to love Australia. And Australia is no slouch when it comes to the arts: literature, acting, directing, producing, music, and so on. They easily find an international market. There are many great works that come from this wonderful country. However, I'm only going to talk about two authors, one director, and one movie here mostly because they all have made such an impression on me.

My favorite Australian author is without a doubt Peter Carey. I think he is an amazing writer who has garnered many awards for his works including the Booker Prize which he won twice, the only writer along with Coetzee to have done so. Foremost in importance for me are his novels OSCAR AND LUCINDA and THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG. OSCAR AND LUCINDA which won the Booker in 1988 is an excellent story based in Australia centering around a wild adventure, a love affair, and a gambling bet. You can't get a better combination than that. It was made into a successful movie in 1997 with Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett.

But for me THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG was the novel that established Carey as one of my favorite writers. Written in 2001, winning the Booker(again), this is an Historical rendition of the murderous life of Ned Kelly, that notorious Australian outlaw. Actually, the TRUE in the tittle of this book is erroneous because Carey took many liberties with the documented facts, but that's OK---it's a novel, not a history. What is astonishing about this book is that it's written by Ned Kelly himself as the narrator trying to explain his behaviour to his daughter. Therefore, it's written in the vernacular with sometimes poor grammar and no punctuation, BUT(emphasis here) the writing just flows. It's quite a feat. I could imagine only a great writer can do that. Mark Twain also in Huck Finn(talk about that wonderful novel later). This is a really good book.

PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK by Joan Lindsay is a novel and subsequent film version of the extremely mysterious circumstances that happened to three young girls and one of their teachers from a prestigious boarding school in Southern Australia in 1900. The story goes that one very hot day a group of school girls accompanied by their teachers took a trip to picnic near a odd looking rock locally called Hanging Rock. By the end of the day, three students and a teacher completely disappeared. Even after an extensive search by pretty well the whole town, nothing was found to be amiss. To this day, the girls were never found, nor the mystery solved. The novel is written in a documentary style which lends itself well to the subject. Yet again it is a novel, not a history.

Australian director-- and one of my favorites--Peter Weir made a movie version of this novel. PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK was released in 1975 winning international acclaim. Weir gave his film a dreamlike aura, and along with a spooky soundtrack he manages to heighten the mystery behind this strange occurrence yet keep the mundane activities of a turn-of-the-century school picnic in focus. It's a wonderful movie that is still spellbinding today.

Well, I think I'll have a cut lunch and a coldie, good onya, mate.

Next: Classics

1 comment:

  1. No worries mate!
    I agree with you completely about Carey's writing style as Ned Kelly. His rambling, rough language is what made the story come alive. Ned Kelly was not a well-educated, clean spoken man and having him express himself in such a way wouldn't have done his character justice. He was raw, passionate and loyal, and I believe Carey does Kelly great justice in portraying him as something other than just a murderous outlaw. It must also be said that Carey's voice for Kelly in his novel is like that of Kelly's in the Jerilderie Letter, which lends even more believability to the story.
    If you're interested, the State Library of Victoria has the The Jerilderie Letter (one of 2 original documents written by Ned Kelly) on file for public viewing. Although it is somewhat long it is definitely worth a read.