peteg's blog

Peter Carey: A Long Way From Home.

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Kindle. Peter Carey's latest novel, and his first Australia-focussed one in how long? The alternating male/female first person narrators tell us a story about Bacchus Marsh, Holden versus Ford, parenting, Aboriginality and the Redex Reliablity Trials of the early 1950s; topics (mostly) beyond the pale of John Howard's nostalgia for that era. The somewhat tiring setup introduces the supposed novelty of a female driver, and just like in Kushner's novel, she's actually really good. Cue the eyerolls, and more when the father in law turns out to be an overbearing white man who can’t deal with her and his son’s relative success. Quiz champ protagonist and apparent ladies' magnet Wilhelm Bachhuber is given a German gloss that allows him to take on aspects of Voss and his tormentors, for instance by being at a suitable remove from the horrors of the real, internal Australia. Carey wants Aboriginal culture to have innovated since 1788, but his "new Law" is apocalyptic, millennial, unimaginative: a new Noah’s ark and holocaust for those very same reasons found in the Bible. Similarly the proposal that you can go home again, or at least rework your earlier stuff (Until the End of the World etc.) in the museum of your mind is sterile. I like to think his juxtaposition of Banjo Paterson and Jack Brabham, Orange boys as I understand it (sorta?), was a wink to those of us brought up in small towns.

Reviews are legion, of course. Craig Taylor wants more. Ron Charles bemoans the beginnings of what to him becomes a worthy narrative. Andrew Dickson. Natalie Quinlivan wades into the mucky politics of cultural appropriation. Goodreads has the unvarnished truth.

Tidbinbilla is not so cold in December.

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I set off for Canberra around 10:30am. The BP at Campbelltown ate some time. Lunch around 1pm at a rest stop in the ACT. I got to the NGA via Fyshwick, overshooting the turnoff due to a lack of signage (surprise). Blue Poles is still there, as is loads of explicit photography. Coffee at their cafe. Cartoons at Old Parliament House; the Museum of Australian Democracy in decline, Backbenchers Cafe no more. Sat in the NLA for a bit finishing off Peter Carey. Peak hour traffic to the Asian Noodle House on Northbourne. Their laksa is based on a thick (yellow?) curry. Tasty. Essen was closed. Gelato for dessert. BP in Braddon wanted $$$$ more for fuel than the Shell on Alison Road, Randwick. There is loads of motorcycle parking everywhere.

Woods Reserve.

I got to Woods Reserve Recreation Area around 8:15pm, perhaps 30 minutes before last light. One roo on the road, two at the grounds. All hopped off quickly. A couple was cooking at the facilties near the entry. I hurriedly pitched my tent on a non-flat bit of hardened dirt; a beginner's mistake due to the age since I last used it. Loads of hangable trees, but given my previous experiences I figured it'd be too cold. Well, I got a worse sleep than any I had in the hammock. It's been many years since I was at this campground: it's no longer bookable and the amenities block is unlocked. (I remembered afterward that I had a plan to hang somewhere out of the way, closer to the city.) I woke with the dawn chorus at 5:30am-ish to a cool but not cold morning, with low cloud that burned off by midday. The shower is hot and remains on a three-minutes-on, two-minutes-off duty cycle. The ride up to ANU through the heavy morning traffic was easy.