As a septuagenarian and a writer, the author has decided to tell his own story. It is a slow burning tale of a young man who came to Australia as a Ten Pound Pom. He was lured here by the image of a far reaching horizon which he never ceased to look for, and love. Robert Croft (the author’s pseudonym) is a young man who is uncertain and looks to the new country to fulfil his dreams. This is the story of the next thirty five years of his life.
Arriving in Australia, Robert heads for the outback. He works on a station, and becomes close friends with the Aboriginal stockmen there, in particular a chap called Frankie. He sees the injustice of different pay and conditions for the indigenous people, and this later becomes the focus of the passion he develops for writing. Frankie and Robert develop that close male relationship that needs few words, and results from spending much time together. Frankie teaches him some mysteries of the bush.
After some time, Robert decides to move to Melbourne. He lives in a dreary boarding house, and gets his first job as a cleaner. He meets a woman who is older than him, a Socialist and a kindly soul. She tells Robert not to love her because “Love is a bucket of shit.” They have sex together, but this is always a short term relationship. The next young woman Robert meets, Lena, is a former head prefect from a private school. He marries her, but she is a deeply troubled person who is searching for peace. Her European friends, Martin and Birte, are the missing pieces of Roberts’s life. They encourage him to study and write, and support him with friendship and wisdom.
Following Lena as she tries to discover herself, Robert travels to Canberra where they live for a time. Next, they move to Sydney, and then finally to a farm in NSW. By now, Robert has made several attempts to write Frankie’s story. He has had a response from a publisher which he understood to be a rejection, but was actually encouraging him to find a company who would publish the book. Lena decides she needs to study art and moves to the city, and it is here that Robert finds himself at his lowest ebb. A woman he has met briefly comes to visit him and her timing is perfect, as Robert had totally lost his direction.
This is such a moving story because the reader feels they are privy to the most intimate thoughts in Robert’s head. He encapsulates the part in all of us that is always questioning, where to from here?…..and the knowledge that this is someone’s truth is grounding. When Alex was questioned about why he would write an autobiography, he replied, “What else is there but the people you love, the people you know, the life you’ve lived, the experiences you’ve had…….That’s what writing is.”
|Publisher||Allen and Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|