peteg's blog - noise - books - 2022 01 28 TheaAstley Drylands

Thea Astley: Drylands.

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Kindle. I've been meaning to read more of Astley's work since I picked up a couple of her short stories about a decade ago. This one, her last, got her the Miles Franklin in 2000. It's essentially a collection of shorts and portraits organised around the small (fictional) town of Drylands which I think is supposed to not exist not too far west of Rockhampton. While the writing is sometimes fine the content is unfortunately too unoriginal to get excited about; what's here can only be news to someone who's never been on the receiving end of the boredom of people from small country towns. On the flip side it seems beyond her imagining that these little places may thrive again, for instance via online communities and people decamping en masse from the coast. Was she blinded by her dogma that culture means French, that screens have killed the written word? And yet I read her book on such.

Goodreads. Kerryn Goldsworthy on the strengths of Astley's (earlier) writing and her dogmas. Bill Holloway, bang on, says the book is based on Springsure, somewhat near Carnarvon Gorge, and "Red Plains" is Emerald. I quite enjoyed Emerald and its botanic garden and nearby lake. Strangely when I was there the area was flooded, not dry, which is why I didn't make it to Springsure.