Sydney University Press, $40 pb, 290 pp
Four kangaroos recently moved into the paddock that adjoins the house on Peramangk Country in the Adelaide Hills where I live. For weeks I had been conscious of distant gunfire, not the usual firing of the gas guns that wineries use to keep birds off their vines. I concluded that the kangaroos had been driven here by a cull. The goats, Charles and Hamlet, and the sheep, Lauren and Ingrid, who call the paddock home, seemed unperturbed by the roos’ presence. But what, I wondered, did all these animals think about one another? What, indeed, did they think about me?
These are the sorts of questions that poet, novelist, short fiction writer, and essayist David Brooks, one of Australia’s pre-eminent thinkers on the subject of human–animal relations, asks in his new collection, Animal Dreams, which anthologises seventeen essays written between 2007 and 2019. Following Derrida’s Breakfast (2016) and The Grass Library (2019), it is the third volume in what Brook says will be a sestet or septet of works on the lives of animals.