Hanging on the Cross

Alex Miller’s journey of the imagination

Hanging on the Cross

Coal Creek

by Alex Miller

Allen & Unwin, $29.99 pb, 292 pp, 9781743316986

The writing of a novel, Alex Miller has said, ‘is a kind of journey of the imagination in which there’s the liberty to dream your own dream … There’s always got to be a model located somewhere in fact and reality … But some of your best characters are what you think of as being purely made up, just characters that needed to be there.’

There is no way of telling and no need to know if Robert Blewitt – whose mother called him Bobby Blue – is ‘purely made up’ or owes something to ‘fact and reality’, but he is certainly one of Miller’s most memorable characters, as striking in his own special way as Annabelle Beck and Bo Rennie (Journey to the Stone Country [2002]), John Patterner (Lovesong [2009]), Max Otto (Landscape of Farewell  [2007]), or Autumn Laing, whose first-person narrative begins: ‘They are all dead and I am old and skeleton-gaunt. This is where it began fifty-three years ago.’

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Published in October 2013 no. 355
Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews is the author of short stories, essays, and biographies. He was a weekly columnist for the Weekend Australian Magazine (1997–2001) and has been a monthly columnist for Eureka Street since 1997. His memoir A Fine and Private Place (2000) won the inaugural Queensland Premier’s Award for non-fiction and his Manning Clark: A Life (2008) won the National Biography Award in 2010.