Monday, April 24, 2006

Not condescending at all.

Charles Redbourne, minor English aristocrat, bachelor, not really one for the ladies (wears his checks a little loud, if you know what I mean), heads to New South Wales to make his mark as a naturalist.

I was ready to read Australia condescended to, once again, as a Brit tries to write about Australia as a little pocket of England floating in The Pacific. I always say that if you look hard enough for trouble you'll find it and I looked. I really did, behind page after page of transparent writing, looking for the condescention, searching, seeking; but not finding. Instead I found a kindred spirit in his host's wayward daughter, or perhaps actually in Redbourne himself - torn between his culture and his intellect, his knowledge and his curiosity. It's a great book: a very quick read - despite how thick it looks- and a total pleasure on every page.

When I say the writing is transparent, I mean that it's the kind of writing where you scan your eyes over the words and the images play in your imagination. The best kind of writing. And the cover is beautiful too: a picture of "Loris", as Lorikeets are known in Rifling Paradise, that used to fly in their screeching hundreds our old back garden in Pymble every evening. There is nothing like hearing that sound in the background of a phone call.

Rifling Paradise
Jem Poster
Sceptre 2006, £8.57, $14.74


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