Thursday, February 19, 2009

Out of the fire

Adrian Hyland, whom readers of Detectives Beyond Borders will know as the author of Diamond Dove (Moonlight Downs in its U.S. incarnation), was near the heart of the Australian bush fires that ravaged Victoria. Though he and his family survived, they lost friends.

Hyland writes in The Age newspaper about how his daughter's school has begun to bounce back from the disaster:

"... Then, on Monday, the principal, Jane Hayward, called us all together and made an announcement that drew tears from many an eye, my own included: The Strathie school was going to re-open.

"Not at some vaguely distant date, after the red-tape had been sorted, the money allocated, the tenders won.

"No, Strathewen school was going to re-open on Wednesday. ..."
© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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19 Comments:

Anonymous John G said...

I'm a bad Australian because I haven't read Diamond Dove - despite several people heartily recommending it, and despite being given a copy some time ago. But I will make amends.

Thanks for the link, Peter, I missed that story. The fires were the most incredible thing. I don't live anywhere near where they occurred, but I've experienced bushfires in the past. But what happened in Victoria was unlike anything anyone's seen. The death toll went up again today, nearly two weeks later.

February 19, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

John- what are your favorite Australian authors, crime or otherwise?

February 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

John, I think it was in a weekend paper. I'm not in Australia, but I heard about the article through the Oz Mystery Readers group online.

I've never experiences a bush fire, but Arthur Upfield has Boney trapped by advancing fires in one of his novels -- one of the more harrowing scenes in crime fiction.

Did these latest victims die of injuries suffered earlier, or are fires still raging?

February 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Marco, I'll give John some time to answer your question. If he doesn't, I'll weigh in. And if he does, maybe I'll weigh in anyhow.

February 19, 2009  
Anonymous John G said...

Peter

They were all killed on the same day. Several towns were pretty much wiped out. Someone said it was a 13 metre wall of flame moving at the speed of a freight train. Apparently people could see the fire on a distant ridge and thought they had plenty of time, but then the wind changed direction and the fire was on them in minutes. Many people were burnt in their homes, so it's taken time finding and identifying bodies, which apparently will still go on for some time.

I haven't read Arthur Upfield. Some of his books were made into a TV series that I remember watching years ago.

February 19, 2009  
Anonymous John G said...

Marco

Such a question makes me feel horribly under-read. And I'm a bit short of time at the moment, so I'll just name names. I tend to latch onto a writer and read most of their work. Crime writers I've read much of and enjoyed are Shane Maloney, Peter Temple, Peter Corris, Garry Disher, Gabrielle Lord. A couple of one-offs I've liked recently are Junkie Pilgrim by Wayne Grogan, and Pig's Blood and Other Fluids (3 stories) by Peter Robb, who lived in Italy for a few years and wrote an excellent non-fiction book called Midnight in Sicily (not sure what an Italian would make of it).

Non-crime, I've read and occasionally enjoyed most of the work of Tim Winton, Peter Carey, David Malouf, Kate Grenville. Anything by Patrick White is worth the effort, especially Voss, Flaws in the Glass, The Twyborn Affair. An old favourite is A Curate in Bohemia by Norman Lindsay. And the short stories of Henry Lawson, who was writing in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, and who is somewhat underrated these days.

An interesting but by no means great book is the Booker winner Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre. Interesting if only for how it polarised critics. In the UK it was largely praised, in the US it was torn to shreds.

I've just finished a horror novel (not my usual fare) called The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliot, a first novel by a guy in his 20s. I loved it. Also excellent is another first book called The Boat by Nam Lea, which is a collection of stories. Highly recommended.

Lots of others I've dipped into, but nothing in particular off the top of my head. I'll hand over to Peter, who I'm sure has much to add, and whoever else wants to put in their two bob’s worth.

I probably won't be able to follow the rest of this because I'm off to the bush shortly for several weeks, and I'm not sure if there's internet access where I'm headed. We'll see.

Ciao a tutti!

February 19, 2009  
Anonymous John G said...

The Boat is by Nam Le, not Nam Lea

February 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I can't answer in detail as great as I'd like to, because I have to put in some more futile work at my dying newspaper. But I will add that I have little to add to your list of Australian crime writers. I am sorry that David Owen stopped writing his Pufferfish novels, though by the fourth and last of them, I think his interests were elsewhere. Chris Nyst is worth a look as well.

February 19, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And give us a full report when you get back from the bush.

February 19, 2009  
Blogger seanag said...

John G, you don't sound horribly under-read at all. A lot of great leads there.

Peter, I'm sorry that the dying paper makes such claims on you. I do feel at least a little that I know whereof you speak.

February 20, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Nevada Barr's Firestorm has a vivid description of escaping from fire.

I wish all the Aussies good luck; we have some friends there who live way down south of Victoria, and their emails have been terrifying in their descriptions.

February 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

John, I agree with Seana. You've read a lot for an underread guy.

Seana, as long as one can ignore the headaches, the non-existent prospects, and the utter absence of any professional satisfaction or even any possibility thereof, the job's not so bad.

February 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The Upfield description is terrifying because it's so close to a non-escape. As I recall, he managed to convey the terrible beauty of the fire without going over the top or forgetting that he had to keep a narrative going.

February 20, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

Yes, nice recommendations.
I especially like David Malouf and Patrick White - I did mention them among "Australians I like" in the great post of doom a while back.
Hope to hear from you again soon.
Ciao!

v-word:phantics

February 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The great post of doom? You wouldn't be referring to a post I prefer to think of as one of the wonders of the post-modern world, would you?

February 20, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

pologges, says my v-word, and taking a cue from Mr. Joyce, I indeed apologuise.

February 20, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The past is pologge.

February 20, 2009  
Blogger Sucharita Sarkar said...

Adrian was sweet enough to send me a copy of his book (the cover was a different one from the one shown here)when I commented on your blog how ignorant I was about current Australian crime-fiction, and I am at present cuaght up in the blackfeller-whitefeller conflict so energetically described in the book. I do hope everything's fine with him, his family and friends.

February 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

He and his family seem to have come through the fires all right, and that article is a nice example of how the survivors can find something to keep them going.

I do like the way the book portrays ugly aspects of that conflict but at the same time portrays many shades of co-existence between blackfellers and whitefellers.

February 22, 2009  

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