It is mid-morning on a blue-bird day and I am coughing my way up the side of a mountain, suffering from what I will later decide must be bronchitis—constant coughing, weariness, shortness of breath. I’m on the west coast of Tasmania for a writing job, and there’s just enough time to hit the hills on the way home. I don’t have proper boots or gaiters here, so my feet are covered in mud; after pushing through the early patches of overhanging bush, the pad opens up and I scoot up the track as quickly as I can. I feel pretty […]
Try to slow those pin-balling thoughts down, while shovelling cereal down your throat. Read the news and depress yourself early. Feel guilty about not ringing your mum back. Google every single thought. Today your left armpit is sore. It’s cancer. It’s the end of the world. It’s 7 a.m. Thoughts and anxieties move under your skin like tiny electric currents. It’s like when you were a child lying on the trampoline and rubbing your arms along the black fabric making your arm hair stand on its end. Ripples of static, waiting to burst through your fingertips at any moment. […]
I’m pretty consistent about not consuming pop culture that I consider politically dodgy. Despite a cover photo of a very mystical-looking John Travolta—captioned with a promised revelation about how he’s raising his son from the dead—I resisted buying this week’s National Enquirer. Equally, I don’t watch reality television because I think, to put it mildly, it maligns all participants. For the same reason I give commercial breakfast TV the widest of berths. That, and it’s largely trash. My righteousness however, completely falls apart when it comes to stories about random objects inserted into vaginas; about medical professionals painstakingly explaining why […]
There are no good novels about the internet because the internet itself is too powerful a text, it’s rife with ambiguities and inconsistencies and bracing shocks, hidden meanings, fathomless mystery. It’s not the role of the novel to dilute anything, and I doubt you can write the internet without diluting it in some way. You can watch teens eat Tide Pods on it, you can watch people die on it, you can sign a petition to change the ending of a videogame on it. On Amazon, you can buy print-on-demand books beloved by white power terror groups (but why would […]
I am acutely aware while visiting other places that I am in the home of the ancestors whose stories since ancient times are preserved in the land, seas, skies and atmosphere. These stories of country live inside us and are ‘the extraordinary literacy of place’, of ancient land titles, and are similar to understanding the old stories of places that the British landscape writer Robert Macfarlane might describe as being the ‘intricate stories to map the landscape’.
Tell me more about New York, her mother says, shifting on the overstuffed couch to make room for Clara. The green leather creaks. You really are in the big smoke now. But then it’s not all that wet, is it? It’s wet enough, Clara answers. Wetter than it is here in Melbourne. Her mother sighs. I don’t know. Last year Osaka had 1624 millimetres. And New York was what, 58 millimetres in February?
As my 20-year working life at the University of Melbourne was coming to its natural end by teaching for the last time an introductory subject on modern poetry during the first half of 2018, Andrea and I were planning to spend the following four months travelling in the far north of Australia, first crossing the Great Sandy Desert on the Tanami Track up from Alice Springs to revisit a community in that desert where we had lived for most of the past two years, and then crossing and recrossing the area of Western Australia known as the Kimberley, a craggy region of spinifex, boab trees and laterite still sparsely populated and still unforgiving to the unprepared.
What is the peculiar
consolation of a sky
like a violet lamp
above a crunched-foil sea?
Meanwhile, your mother
does not love you.