Susan K. Martin
The Penguin Book of Australian Bush Writing
edited by John Ross
Viking, $32.95 pb, 356 pp, 9780670076413
Twinings has recently introduced a new tea flavour called ‘Australian Afternoon Tea’. On the box is an image of kangaroos silhouetted against a red rocky background, which is a sort of amalgam, or perhaps amalgum, of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. This book is like that tea – more Australian than Australia, in a packaged, labelled form that relies heavily on recognition, stereotype, and sentiment. I have to admit that when I started reading the Introduction I thought it might be a parody, but perhaps that just shows jaded sensibilities. Nevertheless, I am not convinced that as ‘Australians we carry a certain vague longing for the bush’. Perhaps I am not drinking the right tea.