By Kim Scott
Oceanic in its rhythms and knowing, awesome in its use of language and snapshot, relocating in its largeness of spirit, compelling in its narrative scope and elegance, this fascinating trip is a party and lament—of starting and go back, of obliteration and restoration, of silencing, and of robust utterance. either tentative and bold, it speaks to the current and a potential destiny via tales, desires, rhythms, songs, pictures and files mobilized from the incompletely said and nonetheless dynamic earlier.
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Extra info for Benang: From the Heart
He knew he could make something of himself in this country, and that he was surrounded by the very best of men. James; a pioneer, no less. Daniel Coolman was present at the founding of this very town. Sergeant Hall … All of them experts on the poor Aborigines, and on their situation. All experts on this country. The men bent together at the bar, shoulder to shoulder, except for Daniel. He was a very big man with an unpleasant smell about him, and so he was kept at a little distance. My true ancestors, those of my blood-and-land-line, the women I must call Harriette and Fanny, sat by a very 51 small fire at the rear of a hut.
He listened to stories of the confidences and velvet skins of the women; of the scientific rationale behind his talk of breeding. And saw how good could be done, and power won. Perhaps it was with James Segal, perhaps another time with Auber. Whenever, with whoever, the fact is that the photographs were numbered, and there were notes pinned to them. I know their kind well. A finger — red and lined at the knuckles, flesh sagging from the bone — hovered over one portrait. ‘Now, here, you see? ’ A solemn face.
Said Daniel. ’ And then one day, approaching the yard, Ern saw a stranger handsawing timber, over by the water tanks. Daniel Coolman’s disembodied arm, floating in the sunlight, emerged from the shade and pointed at the stranger. ‘Vy nephew,’ said Daniel. ’ My Uncle Jack Chatalong. Once more I realise what a curious name it is. As a boy, apparently, it suited him well. Yet when Uncle Will first — so generously — introduced us, it seemed singularly inappropriate; Jack was so quiet. However once he recognised me, he began to speak, and the words flowed as if they had been dammed-up too long.