Catherine Kenneally

You can’t write a review of millenarian ‘time-pieces’ without showing your hand. I hereby declare that the first thing I do on looking into such a collection is a simple calculation, to which the answer in this case is 16:25.

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Catherine Kenneally: The first thing that strikes me is that there are now two books in a row with Christian symbols on the cover.

Peter Goldsworthy: Yes, well I didn’t have much say in the cover of that one. They showed it to me. Interestingly there was the novel, Honk if You Are Jesus and then a novella called Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam – probably more interesting to me because that’s my own work. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe that’s the mythical 1960s generation getting into middle age and starting to worry about death and the afterlife and all that stuff.

I’ve always been fascinated by those almost banal adolescent questions, why is there something rather than nothing. I’ve never fully outgrown them, and maybe you shouldn’t outgrow them. It is the basic question, why are we here?, and all those whys that continue to fascinate me.

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‘One day in the middle of the nineteenth century, when settlement in Queensland had advanced scarcely more than halfway up the coast …’ The opening lines of the novel seek to place it and us squarely in the discourse of history; to require that we lay aside the credulity with which the reader welcomes in romance and fantasy and become fellow-enquirers into the world of factual record, population figures and dates, marks on maps, important conflicts and the names of governors.

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Here it is, nearly Christmas, and as usual, the list of Books I Have Read is running into the hundreds, and I have that end-of-year mad, fleeting illusion that also afflicts exam-fevered students … that somehow it All Adds Up.

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