I love to send mail by post. Letters are a relic, care packages an archaeological doorstep find. So you can imagine how happy I was to receive this box, all the way from Australia, from my friend J. I had sent him a couple of books a few months ago - two I had finished that I thought he might enjoy. In return, he sent a precious selection:
"I'm sending you this books as a kind of intro to Australian writing. It's hard to know where to start. Should one begin with a 19th century classic? Or with one of the feisty left wing women writers of the 1940s? Or the most recently acclaimed?
In the end, I settled for a Nobel Laureate and the novel of his which I like best: The Aunt's Story. Next comes David Malouf who may well be our next Nobel winner. I chose his very first novel, Johnno, because it is about my home town in the era in which we both grew up. In fact, when it first came out, a friend gave it to me saying simply "It's us." He was right. Finally, Peter Goldworthy's Maestro, which I just enjoy.
After I chose them I realised that they all in their different ways deal with the complex relationship that Australians have with Europe. More then, perhaps, than know. You may recognise some of that in certain generations of Americans.
Both the Brisbane and Darwin described are long gone. Darwin after a Hurricane in 1974. Now rebuilt. Brisbane in the hurricane of development so that is now like Dallas on a river. I hope you enjoy."
And this precious letter begins a new category, and a new week of posts on Good Mail. Stay tuned.