Serious Whitefella Reading Group will meet again on Monday 18th December 2017, at at 12:30, at Thresherman’s on Faraday St in Carlton.
The book at the top of the agenda is Alexis Wright’s Tracker published by Giramondo of Western Sydney (2017). It’s big and it’s thick and the cover is pretty much black, grey and white except for the title, Tracker.
The book is available at the usual shops, albeit it seems a touch cheaper at Readings of Carlton, St.Kilda and Hawthorn.
It will likely take me the full month to read this book. Hundreds of pages it is.
I’m reading this book and trying to find material in it which relates to my interests. But the pleasure of reading is in being told stories one does not expect to hear. This is one of the book’s qualities: it’s orality. Spokenness. Probably this is one of Alexis Wright’s qualities as a writer – but I wouldn’t know as I haven’t read her work more generally. This is the first one for me. She writes down yarns.
The book is made up of tales from Tracker Tilmouth and his mob who describe him and his adventures and those things which happened to him. And the life and times he was a part of. Tales of people and their circumstances, as Pramoedya Ananta Toer would write.
I live down south and have never been up north. Sometimes, especially during the non-Victorian footy season, I watch the NTFL, live on YouTube. Here I see teams with names like St.Mary’s, Buffaloes, Waratahs and others.
Vincent Forrester narrates a story for a few pages (pp.62-64) and includes this passage:
“In those days there was a lot of sport involved in people’s socialising in Darwin, and a lot of the football sides were made up of the Stolen Generation people. They all played for the Buffaloes, St.Mary’s, Nightcliff. So Darwin was an interesting town. They were not relations but they were relations, all that Stolen Generation who got together.” (p.63)
Footy clubs provide a structure for those who have been ripped away from their family.
I feel like I’m reading a fictionalised account of a man who may or may not have lived in a place that may or may not exist. There seems to be a lot of myths about this guy, Tracker. Apocryphal and half-true most of them. He appears now and then in the narrative giving reasons and explaining himself for why and how things turned out to be and his precise role in certain events.
A rigorous, imperious editor would have slashed and burned this big book to half its size. Methinks its ramblings are part of the point.