Peter Timms’s Making Nature is a delight. I found it especially enjoyable because I have been reading massively for my next book, so it was a remarkable break to take six contemplative walks with Timms and the many who accompany him, not in the flesh but in the word: Rousseau, Augustine, Petrarch, Edmund Burke, Kant, and a host of others, instructing, disrupting, agreeing.
Mr Rolls has written an extraordinarily detailed history of the Chinese in Australia, interspersed with much additional related and unrelated matter. It is indeed a labour of love, written over a period of some twenty years, and the author has uncovered a large amount of fascinating and amazing information not readily available elsewhere. Much of this new material relates to the vibrant popular culture the Chinese brought with them: their food, cricket fighting, cock fighting, and other sorts of fairly harmless gambling; their diseases, living conditions and relations with their non-Chinese neighbours. A certain amount of the book concerns immigration acts and other forms of discrimination, of course, but the stronger impression one gets is a more positive one: the Chinese as hard workers and major contributors to Australian life.
Eric Rolls begins his Celebration of the Senses with an image of his wife’s left buttock shining through a split in an old blue sheet ‘like an early morning moon’. He ends the book with the smells of his semen and her cunt as the warm sheet is lifted and the day begins. He shares his delight in his partner (‘I will not name her. A name both exposes and confines her’) as he shares all the sensual pleasures that give him his being and inform his work.