Fremantle Press

Lines Of Flight by Marion Campbell & Postcards from Surfers by Helen Garner

by
December 1985–January 1986, no. 77

Marion Campbell’s first book is an ambitious work in which large themes are explored through the consciousness of a complex character, Rita Finnerty, a twenty-five-year-old Australian artist living in France. The writing is richly dense with images, symbolic clues, psychological insight poetic and painterly language, time layered with memory and even stories within the story.

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The Fremantle Arts Centre Press is an example of what a state-oriented press can do. Under intelligent guidance and with sympathetic but not irresponsible state funding assistance, it has now established a solid reputation for publishing good­looking and worthwhile books. If west coast writers are now better known in the east than they were several years ago, this is only partly due to their qualities as writers, good though some of them undoubtedly are. It is also because the Fremantle Arts Centre Press has actively encouraged and promoted west coast writers, giving them the confidence that only professional book publication can.

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T.A.G. Hungerford’s new book Stories from Suburban Road is sub-titled ‘an autobiographical collection’ and comes complete with an appendix of photographs in the style of a family album with captions such as ‘Mick and me, 1922’, ‘Me, aged 16, and Phyllis Kingsbury, Scarborough, 1931’, and ‘Mum and Mrs Francis Victoria Wood, Como Beach, 1930’. Also, throughout the collection each story, sixteen in all, is accompanied by a photograph of the period of the author’s childhood and adolescence between the wars. The impression this provides is that the reader is invited to participate in Hungerford’s nostalgia for his past which consequently may be an inaccessibly private world – more reminiscence than substance. This impression proves to be quite incorrect. The photographs are moments frozen in time, enclosed in a period before this reader was born and the stories offer insight into them. They mutually contribute to the impression created, generally, of a world of innocence and delight. The happy and robust youth in the photographs looks contentedly into the camera from an ordered, acceptable world. They also perhaps complement the selectivity of the author’s imagination.

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Elizabeth Jolley has been around as a writer for some time. Her work dates back to the late 1950s (she came to Australia from England in 1959) and her stories began appearing in anthologies and journals in the mid­1960s, but it was not until 1976 that her first collection, Five Acre Virgin and other stories, was published by the Fremantle Arts Centre Press. Since then, her rate of publication has been phenomenal, and it is perhaps no accident that it coincided with the rise of an indigenous Western Australian Press: three of her first four books were published by the FACP, which, in its few years of existence, has been responsible for the discovery of a remarkable amount of talent.

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Desert Mother is a collection of poems from a West Australian writer in his late twenties who now lives in Sydney. Many of the poems in it have a double layer of nostalgia – a personal one, for a lost adolescence, and a general one for small towns left on the edge of history.

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