HarperCollins, $27.99 pb, 272 pp
‘The stories you will read in this book have been written primarily from memory and many years after the fact. Everything within these pages is true in essence, polished by how I experienced it and as I remember it.’
Presented in three parts on a canvas of time and distance, Pip Newling’s first work of non-fiction recounts her time as a barkeeper in two remote northern Australian communities, Halls Creek and Mataranka. Blondie, as she comes to be known, is a restless and strong-willed 23-year-old in 1990, when she sets out to find ‘the real, the experience, the education’. These towns – communal outposts where race, sex, heat, isolation and desperation collide – are well equipped to provide them. Newling relates her experiences through a series of vignettes, full of memory’s spaces and slippages, but with a definite temporal dimension, a sense of time traced. Such is their impact, the stories probably didn’t need a gifted writer to bring them to life.