Deborah Biancotti's Reviews > The Mind of a Thief

The Mind of a Thief by Patti Miller
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really liked it
bookshelves: aww2013, writer-women, non-fic

A gentle, clear-sighted memoir. I picked this up at the 2012 Sydney Writers' Festival. Then I put it down again, because it sounded too serious. Then I picked it up again, because who could resist the blurb: "How do you belong to a stolen land?"

Damn right.

Miller takes a look at the history of Wellington in central, inland NSW. The 'inland' thing matters, you get a sense of heat and space in this book. Or maybe sparsity.

In particular, Miller seeks to examine the Wiradjuri people who lived there, against a backdrop of native land title controversy - not only black-white, but black-black controversy. Miller's cool honesty is probably the only way to present such a complicated & sad story. She pieces together not just the history but the *story* of these people (for the distinction, please read the book :) & her own people, & how they interacted. Being a woman, she is forbidden from some secret wisdom of the Wiradjuri men - but it's not just gender, it's the colour of her skin and it's *time* that locks her out, so many stories lost because they're unwritten.

Some of this book affected me deeply. The spiritual landscape where Wiradjuri children would be brought so that a star could be chosen for them, for instance. Also, the assertion that this small part of the world is where 'all story comes from'.

I don't know that I made any new conclusions from this book. It seems more to be a recording, a history made to meet the absence of history, the lost stories.

I did begin to wonder, though, why we need our history written down when so many people have managed to 'tell' their histories, person to person, a living, human chain of story.

BTW, the answer to the question - how do you belong to a stolen land - is, I think, "precariously".

A worthy addition to the Stella Longlist for 2012.

#aww2013 no.11
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Maree (new) - added it

Maree Kimberley Sounds like one I need to add to my list.

Deborah Biancotti Maree wrote: "Sounds like one I need to add to my list."

Recommended! :)

message 3: by Amanda (new) - added it

Amanda Jane As a woman from the Wiradjuri tribe, I would just like to say that your review was wonderfully thoughtful.

I only discovered this book tonight after just a "spur of the moment" putting the word Wiradjuri into the Amazon/Kindle search engine and this book coming up.
It surprised me I hadn't heard of it but nevertheless I bought it straightaway and it will be the next book I read.

Thank you for your interest and taking the time to read about our very proud culture. As my Wiradjuri grandmother would say "it makes my heart sing"

AJ :-)

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