Author(s): Kathleen Mary Fallon
Essays & Letters
What was it like, living through the social, cultural and political upheaval of the last fifty years of the twentieth century in this Lucky Country? With Life flying forward into the future, what could be held onto, and what self (that place which is never fixed) could fix and hold the experience of those years? In A Fixed Place: the long and short of story, we find moments that were held--moments of stasis, of hard-won clarity, of sexuality, joy, confusion, compassion. The collection includes pieces that span and scan more than half a lifetime: from the story a child tells herself as she struggles to come to terms with the weirdness of her extended family ("A Fixed Place"), to the story of a young teenager trying to comprehend tales told around the kitchen table, tales that defy interpretation ("The Origins and History of Aquarelle Taffeta"), to a story of violence and murder ("bringing yourself to do it"). They encompass the complexities of lesbian sexuality ("Not Unlike the Peeling of Many Bells" and "International lesbians--portraits") and interracial adoption/fostering ("Goat Song"). Employing a range of styles and stylistic devices, the innovative language and format of each story is carefully crafted to match the subject matter. These stories are slippery with the grunt and sweat of hard yakka--the work of striving towards consciousness against the grain of good old she'll-be-right complacency. From the sugarcane fields of Queensland to the struggle streets of metropolitan tenderloins, Ned and Nellie Skyring, Sybil Aspire (nee Dud), Tattoo, Bald Eagle, Big Red, Falsus Hopa, Wassa--boy and Uncle James live their lives. Whether in slave-like conditions in quiet suburbs or in dreamlike states on the horizon of the Australian imagination, the characters and their stories are in our cultural DNA and need to be remembered.