peteg's blog

Don Walker: Shots

/noise/books | Link

I've been meaning to read this for more than a year, and having done so wish I'd gotten to it sooner; Walker did a good job reading it for Radio National, but I prefer reading to (non-conversational) listening. Even so, some parts compelled me to pause and recall his smoke-cured voice.

The book is disjointed and impressionistic, recounting a caring childhood but a tough beginning to his music career, which is probably inevitable no matter the talent. He is clearly a private person, quiet, reflective, and unapologetically elides any detail that he doesn't want to share. There's a solid class consciousness throughout, and that while the scene makes for easy women, letting them go is not so easy. Tucker's Daughter is now so much more than a upward tick on Ian Moss's slide into history.

His stories about his first career, about being trained as a theoretical physicist and cranking the aerodynamics of bombers in Adelaide, are great, tinged with something like lifelong regret that that side of him was stunted in its development. Perhaps all physicists are failed rock musicians. Sexual desperation on the train running up the east coast is pure 1970s.

The way he talks about regional Australia is hardly unique — Malouf has done a good job too, Winton maybe. The Cold Chisel fans may be let down by the lack of specifics. God knows what he runs on, for he sounds like he gave up on hope sometime before 1975. There is a lot of violence here too, with Walker himself somehow detached about it all, not above it, not in it, perhaps disgusted that those who can aren't creating.

Review: SMAGE.