07 April 2011

The scent of childhood

It's curiously entertaining that the enduring image of Australia held by folk from other places is usually of a land of odd or deadly animals, a fireworks-friendly bridge, an iconic opera house, a rather large reef and a big red rock in the middle of a desert.

Of course, those of us who live here know it is much more than that. We also know that most of the population lives in sprawling urban landscapes clustered around the coastline, and that it would actually be a very unusual event if we looked out the window and saw kangaroos hopping down the street. The lights of the MCG - yes. Kangaroos - not so much.

Despite the fact we are drawn to large cities, a goodly number of us did grow up in small country or coastal towns,* and only later migrated to the big smoke - in pursuit of education, and employment, and eating emporiums that are open after eight o'clock. So while we are enamoured of the bright lights, big city and its hole-in-the-wall bars and fine dining establishments, for many of us there is a little part of our heart that pings when we read a book set in the rural landscape of our childhood.

And, as we've mentioned before, we're looking at you: Snake, by Kate Jennings. How delighted are we to discover that the good folk at Black Inc. have re-released this brilliant novella. Extremely. Delighted.

So here's to books that ring true with the colours and sights and sounds of the country, its calm and its cacophony, its far horizons and casual claustrophobia, its dusty paddocks and high haystacks, its flood-prone plains and tracts of eucalypts, and the full moon, bright and blazing orange as it edges up over the horizon.

Here's to books that ring true with the scent of childhood.

* Where kangaroos were not necessarily an unusual sight, but a koala-sighting - now that was something to write home about.

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