The second episode in the three-part TV series ‘Books that Made Us’ was screened on ABC TV tonight. (If you live in Australia and missed it, you can catch up on iView. You can also read my thoughts on Episode One here.)
This episode, called ‘Place’, was themed around cities and landscapes that have featured so strongly in Australian fiction, but it could easily have been called ‘History’ because it covered Aboriginal dispossession and our convict past, among other changes in Australian society over the years.
There were lots of wonderful interviews with most of the authors name-checked below, including footage of the late Patrick White, after he won the Nobel Prize for Literature (the first and only Australian to achieve that honour).
The books covered in episode two
Here is a list of the books mentioned in this episode. They have been arranged in alphabetical order by author’s surname. As ever, hyperlinks take you to my reviews.
- ‘For the Term of his Natural Life’ by Marcus Clarke [read this one in my teens]
- ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ by Trent Dalton [abandoned this one, but I was reading it when I was packing up my life in the UK in 2019, so my reading wasn’t very focused at the time]
- ‘Goulds Book of Fish’ by Richard Flanagan [read but not reviewed here]
- ‘Death of a River Guide’ by Richard Flanagan
- ‘My Brilliant Career’ by Miles Franklin
- ‘Monkey Grip’ by Helen Garner
- ‘The Secret River’ by Kate Grenville
- ‘Benevolence’ by Julie Janson [on my digital TBR]
- ‘Johnno’ by David Malouf [read this one at school]
- ‘Voss’ by Patrick White
- ‘The Vivisector by Patrick White
- ‘Carpentaria’ by Alexis Wright [on my TBR]
The next episode, entitled ‘Power’, will be screened next Tuesday at 8.30pm.
15 thoughts on “Books that Made Us: Episode Two”
I’d be so interested in this, even though I’ve only read – and loved – The Secret River from your list. I need to get up to speed on Australian literature!
Well, these lists are a good starting point to begin your Aus Lit journey! 🙂
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I’ve read them all, except for the Dalton and the Garner which I have tried to read three times since the time it was published, and given up on.
If I’d been advising them on books to feature place, I’d have listed almost anything by Stephen Orr but especially The Hands, and almost anything by Thea Astley, but especially Drylands.
Well, I chose Monkey Grip for my London book group many years ago where it was universally disliked! Think we scored it 3 out of 10 or something. Oops.
And agree about The Hands and Drylands for sense of place. I’d also throw in Randolph Stow and Tim Winton. But I think the program was trying to be “fair” in that it mentioned a couple of cities (Brisbane and Melbourne), Tasmania, the bush, the Top End and the outback. I was kind of hoping they might mention Wake in Fright for the outback (they went for Voss), but maybe they didn’t want to turn people off visiting. LOL.
*chuckle* Yeah, Wake in Fright is not exactly a tourist promo for Qld!
(Good to know I am not alone about Monkey Grip).
Have you ever seen the Wake in Fright film? I had a copy on DVD and loaned it to a posh British colleague who was fascinated by the outback. He gave it back to me saying he was too traumatised to talk about it 😂
I have, a long time ago.
And you know, I came across types like those on our outback trip in 1992. Never, ever again…
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I haven’t read the Janson (not heard of it, in fact). I hope you get to Carpentaria soon, it’s a work of genius.
The Janson is written in direct response to Kate Grenville’s The Secret River which is seen through a white lens. Janson is of Aboriginal descent from the Burruberongal clan of the Darug Nation of the Hawkesbury River so we get to see things through an indigenous lens. I believe Lisa has reviewed it on her blog. I started reading it for Lisa’s indig lit week last year but had to put it aside because I had too much else going on at the time and never went back to it. But I do plan on reading it soon.
Similar story with Carpentaria. I found a secondhand copy in a charity shop in Hammersmith not long after it had been published and it felt like I had won the lottery. I began reading it but had to put it aside (I have a vague feeling I moved jobs or something) and, again, just never returned to it. I have since purchased it on Kindle as the tiny font in the print edition was off putting!
Thanks for pointing me to Janson, Kim. Though what I came back to say is Wake in Fright, the movie is set in/around Broken Hill, NSW. And horrifying as it is, I thought Wolf Creek was ‘worse’.
Wolf Creek definitely worse. Wolf Creek is gratuitous in a way that Wake in Fright isn’t. It gets off on the violence against women and is abhorrent. Wake in Fright is having a go at soft city types and isn’t trying to kill and harm women … although it does kill and harm kangaroos 😱
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Yes, I reviewed it here: https://anzlitlovers.com/2020/07/06/benevolence-by-julie-janson/
But not Carpentaria because I read that pre-blog.
Fascinating insight into Australian life and Australian literature. Loving the presentation and now have a list of must read books having read half a dozen of them already. Can’t wait for the next episode and enjoying Claudia’s presentation.