Imagine a cross between Tim Winton’s The Turning and Kenneth Cook’s Wake in Fright, and you might very well imagine John Kinsella’s latest collection of fiction, Tide. Kinsella, a Western Australian like Winton, writes of the coast and of the desert, of small-town life and small-town people. However, Kinsella highlights the corruption of those landscapes and people in a way that aligns his vision more with Cook’s (which should come as no surprise, given Kinsella’s anti-pastoral poetry). There are ships pumping ‘alkaline hell’ into the waters where children swim, meatworks leaking blood to the sharks, factories, mines, old batteries, and trenches. Men are ‘brutal and brutalising’. Even boys torment and humiliate one another, often with the approval or complicity of their guardians. If someone outside Australia wanted to understand a coutry that hounded its first female prime minister out of office and voted in Tony Abbott on a platform against boat people and the carbon tax, this is the book I would recommend.
Maria Takolander is an Associate Professor in Literary Studies and Professional and Creative Writing at Deakin University in Geelong, Victoria. She is the author of a book of short fiction, The Double (Text 2013); three books of poetry, The End of the World (Giramondo 2014), Ghostly Subjects (Salt 2009), and Narcissism (Whitmore Press 2005); and a book of literary criticism, Catching Butterflies: Bringing Magical Realism to Ground (Peter Lang 2009). Her poetry and fiction have been widely published and anthologised. She is the recipient of a 2014-2015 $40,000 Australia Council grant and is currently working on a novel for Text Publishing.
From the New Issue
Changing Fortunes: A history of the Australian treasury by Paul TilleyReviewed by Geoffrey Blainey
The Impeachers: The trial of Andrew Johnson and the dream of a just nation by Brenda WineappleReviewed by Samuel Watts