library ticket for Defending Country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Military Service since 1945, that it’s “in demand” and that my “prompt retlibrary ticket for Defending Country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Military Service since 1945, that it’s “in demand” and that my “prompt return would be appreciated”. That means that there’s keen interest in this book, and I think that’s a good thing. As I said in my previous post about Our Vietnam Nurses the history of marginalised groups in the military has been overlooked for far too long, considering the plethora of books we have about war service.
However, I suspect that some readers will be disappointed by this one, no matter how interested they may be in the subject.
Warren Young argues that the relationship between minority participation in military versus civilian societies may follow one of three patterns, continuous, discontinuous or parallel. Continuous patterns signify the ‘deliberate projection of the minority-societal relationship onto the military organisation’; discontinuous means that the minority’s relationship within the military differs from its status within civilian society; and parallel patterns suggest that the relationship mostly mirrors that of civilian society but with some discontinuity. (p.136)
You see what I mean? Defending Country is an academic study, not written with a general audience in mind…
The book ranges across a number of themes, some of more interest to the general reader than others. The book focuses on service post WW2, but of necessity it has to cover the fact that Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders were disbarred from enlisting in WW1 and WW2 unless they circumvented the contemptible provisions of the legislation. The first chapter refers to the way that many of them did enlist, served with distinction as men among equals and were then confronted by discrimination when the war was over. The chapter then explores Indigenous participation in the postwar Occupation of Japan, exposing the dichotomy between government intentions and what actually happened. Military selection boards excluded indigenous enlistment by enforcing the rules about European origin and descent but there were some Aboriginal soldiers still in the army from WW2 and there is documentary evidence that some of these went to Japan. It was interesting to note that official determination to prevent Aborigines from serving there was in part due to wanting to placate local racial sensitivities i.e. the racism of the Japanese.
This is such a tiny little book, it almost fits in the palm of my hand, but it certainly ‘packs a punch’. It’s one of the Penguin 60s (Black) ClassicsThis is such a tiny little book, it almost fits in the palm of my hand, but it certainly ‘packs a punch’. It’s one of the Penguin 60s (Black) Classics series, published in 1995 to celebrate Penguin’s 60th anniversary. These little books are extracts from the Penguin Classics series, and this one comes from The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, first published in 1845.
Reading about American slavery is, for me, a bit like reading about the Holocaust. I just don’t understand how such evil could have been accepted as it obviously was. I can understand individual acts of cruelty and wickedness as a result of some malfunction in an individual’s development, but how whole societies could have endorsed the institutionalisation of man’s inhumanity to man is a horrible mystery to me.
The Education of Frederick Douglass describes two kinds of education. The first is when the boy Frederick is socialised into the world of slavery and learns the rules of the plantation, and the second is when it dawns on him that literacy is the key to freedom and he sets about learning to read and write, even though he is forbidden to do so by law and by custom.
One thing’s for sure about the people working in creative industries, they like to be involved in new, original and different projects. So my guess isOne thing’s for sure about the people working in creative industries, they like to be involved in new, original and different projects. So my guess is that journalists in the media approach certain commemorative events with an inward groan… how do you do something different with the annual Christmas and Easter programming, and – even more challenging – how do you make something new and interesting about more controversial commemorations such as Australia Day and yes, Anzac Day?
Teachers face the same dilemma. Every year they are required to acknowledge Anzac and Remembrance Day to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the age of the students they teach. As Director of Curriculum before I retired, it was my job to coordinate the whole school program, so that the kids didn’t get the same old lesson every year, and if you read my post at LisaHillSchoolStuff you can see that I implore publishers to think outside the box, especially when it comes to acknowledging the participation of those often overlooked in the national narrative. Always on the lookout for background reading to improve my own knowledge about the service of indigenous Australians, peacekeepers and women, I would have been pleased to discover Our Vietnam Nurses had it been available while I was developing resources for my students to use.
The Body Where I Was Born, by Guadalupe Nettel intrigued me for a number of reasons. I came across it when it was longlisted for the 2016 Best TranslaThe Body Where I Was Born, by Guadalupe Nettel intrigued me for a number of reasons. I came across it when it was longlisted for the 2016 Best Translated Book Award, and liked the blurb; and then I discovered that UWAP (University of Western Australia Press) had the rights to publish it in Australia. I was a bit puzzled by that. UWAP (as far as I can tell from their website) doesn’t publish much in the way of translated fiction – why this book, I wondered?
I suspect now that I know the answer. It may be on a literature reading list for some lucky students…
When I was at university, I was introduced to Kafka with his novella The Metamorphosis, in which the central character Gregor Samsa wakes up one day to find that he has been transformed into a large insect, never named but (especially if read in the original German, apparently) clearly verminous. Most illustrators depict it as a monstrous cockroach. There is no explanation for the cause of the metamorphosis; the novella is about how Gregor and his family adapts to it.
The Body Where I Was Born is a feminist rewriting of Kafka’s novella. It is said to be autobiographical in the sense that it covers events in Nettel’s life, both public (such as the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City) and private (such as their sojourn in France). It shows how she responded to the traumas of her young life by developing a tough carapace to shield herself from betrayal and attack. The novella also explores her sense of being an outsider; of having a disability – a congenital cataract in one eye, (which alerts the reader to the suggestion that this is a one-eyed account); and of her discovery of writing as a form of vengeance.
Not for me. I can do disjointed narratives, and I can bear with blokes narrating the female PoV, but after 50 pages it was time to give up. Utterly unNot for me. I can do disjointed narratives, and I can bear with blokes narrating the female PoV, but after 50 pages it was time to give up. Utterly unconvincing, IMO. And it's not just me: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-ent......more
I actually borrowed this book from the library by mistake, I thought it was by Australian author David Brooks, whose writing I really like. It turns ouI actually borrowed this book from the library by mistake, I thought it was by Australian author David Brooks, whose writing I really like. It turns out to be a sort of self-help book, addressing the issue of narcissism in contemporary society. Brooks talks about the difference between the 'résumé virtues' and the 'eulogy virtues', and how both are necessary but should be in balance. He says modern life encourages people to focus on bragging about how great they are instead of having the humility to reflect on their own behaviour and develop virtues of kindness, bravery, honesty and faithfulness - these are the virtues that most of us would say are more important than the characteristics that lead to professional success. Brooks isn't nostalgic about the past, even though he says that people in the past tended to be more humble about themselves. He points out that in the 1950s there was racism, sexism, discrimination against minorities and excessive conformity. But he thinks we have gone overboard with the self-actualisation, believe in your own dreams preoccupations of today. He lost me, however, with his long-winded examples of role models who got it right. A bit surprising for a newspaper columnist, that he couldn't be more succinct with what he wanted to say......more
I picked this up on a whim at the library, not knowing anything about the book or the author, but when I got home I discovered that I already had an eI picked this up on a whim at the library, not knowing anything about the book or the author, but when I got home I discovered that I already had an early novel by Ha Jin, it’s called Waiting (1999). Ha Jin is the pen name of Xuefei Jin, a Chinese-born writer who was in the US doing his PhD at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and he stayed there, making a career as a Chinese author writing in English and as a Professor of English at Boston University. He’s actually a prolific author, notable enough to have been interviewed by The Paris Review, and A Map of Betrayal (2014) is his seventh novel.
According to his bio at the university, his books have won a number of awards, including the PEN/ Faulkner twice, the National Book Award and the Flannery O’Connor prize. Most of his novels seem to be rated four stars at Goodreads where there are thousands of reviews of his work, including some by my GR friends. So, even though I’d forgotten all about it, I must have been paying attention at some stage, because I’d bought Waiting… maybe that’s why I noticed the book at the library?
Anyway…A Map of Betrayal turned out to be quite an interesting book, though not without flaws. It’s about a Chinese spy in America, but it’s not about the intricacies of passing secrets. It’s about divided loyalties and the moral vacuum forced upon the protagonist.
The story is told by the Lilian Shang, a college lecturer and daughter of the spy, a narrative voice that IMO makes the novel flawed from the start. She is American born and bred, yet strangely phlegmatic about her father’s conviction as a mole in the CIA and his subsequent suicide. In a country so assiduously patriotic as the US, she seems to suffer no embarrassment or hostility, and seems also to be able to travel freely between China and the US without arousing suspicion from the authorities of either country. Calm, humourless, and (in a voice that might be channelling the author) given to straight-taking about the boilerplate and purple prose of her students at Beijing Teachers’ College, Lilian is keen to unmask her father but remain objective about it.
Longlisted for the 2016 Miles Franklin Award, The World Without Us begins slowly with a network of scenes that eventually form a structure in a way thLonglisted for the 2016 Miles Franklin Award, The World Without Us begins slowly with a network of scenes that eventually form a structure in a way that a beehive does. It takes a little while to connect the characters and their relationships, so the reader needs a bit of patience in order for the story to cohere…
Just as a hive depends on its Queen and will swarm wherever she leads it, so the central character of this novel is Evangeline, whose family is adrift ever since she lost her way when her daughter Pip died two years ago.
(Yes, it is another story about grief and loss, there’s a lot of this about in Australian literary fiction at the moment, and the Miles Franklin judges have acknowledged that it’s a common theme in their choices:
“The impact of grief and loss – complex families, unstable relationships, accidents, European war crimes, suicide, – and how the experience of these issues deeply determine the narrative and direction of lives”.
That’s as quoted in the SMH, I defy anyone to locate judges’ comments on the new MF website!)
The story begins with conflicting images of Evangeline: a strong, arresting-looking woman confidently stripping off to swim in the river, she’s not embarrassed to be joined by a neighbour, the new teacher in town who’s called Jim. But as he soon realises, there is a powerful undercurrent drawing her towards the falls, and she seems to be drifting towards oblivion. When he pulls her back to safety, he sees her private memorial, a sort of installation composed of Pip’s medication boxes and mementoes strung from a tree. In withdrawing with her own grief in this intensely private way, Evangeline has abandoned her other two daughters Tess and Meg and her apiarist husband Stefan, leaving them to flounder around on their own