Review ‘Too Much Lip’ by Melissa Lucashenko

The incessant fights in the Salter family are too real, their plight is real, every word is real and that’s what damaged me the most.  I took long walks due to the serious and unrelenting nature of the content.  Loaded with the troubles of the Salter family, cruel sarcasm, too much drink, too many smokes, I was getting worn down right along with them.  It took me a month to read this book in fits and starts but I’m glad I did.

Abrasive characters are well portrayed which makes them doubly annoying, they need to be accepted warts and all, like ‘mouthy’ Kerry Salter and her unlikable brother Ken who argue every minute of the day.  I’m sure I’d have put Ken in hospital at about Chapter Three.

Maybe take the pressure off young Donny.

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Bad things are happening, but as long as Kerry’s Harley Softail is safe.

Early on, Bundjalung woman Kerry has returned to her home town of Durrongo, and grieves the loss of her girlfriend Allie, her Pop and her stolen blue backpack.  She does a B&E, part retribution, part spirit world, and the universe turns a notch.  Fair move, but repercussions come later.  Then there’s romance in the form of her hot eye-candy boyfriend Steve Abarco who’s the flagship for level-headed, rock-solid men.

Kerry’s tarot card-reading mother Pretty Mary celebrates a birthday and those volatile chapters are my favourites.  At the party is another brother, gay Black Superman, maybe long-dead sister Donna, plus assorted Aunts (called Mary) Uncles and children who gust through the pages like eucalyptus smoke.  But forget about opening old family wounds, I’d say a lump the size of police headquarters sits in the pit of their stomachs, continually irritating their every move.

The battle against a new prison, to be built on sacred ground where Salter ancestors are laid to rest, ramps up with a land rights campaign.  Enter cops like Senior Sergeant Trevor Nunne and money-hungry Mayor Jim Buckley.  Ken’s flamboyant gesture on a piece of Buckley’s property was not appreciated and leads to disastrous retaliation.

You will have noticed that I am not giving too much away.

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Two Aboriginal kingplates I photographed in a display cabinet at Ipswich Art Galley, Queensland.

Writing style-wise, I did wondered why Kerry wasn’t written in first person.  Some events are seeded in advance while others appear to be inserted later to up-the-ante.  Every so often the voice changes, doubt creeps in, there’s a lull.  Or a change in atmosphere with The Doctor.  Occasionally things become omnipotent and POVs jump in and out of people’s heads but that can be overlooked for scary brave writing.

If you are not Australian, you WILL become lost in the slang and cultural references.

Try anyway.

Read this rude, gutsy book if you ARE offended by swearing, truisms close to the bone, and the struggles of Indigenous people.  As Ken says in Chapter 15 ‘How to invade other people’s countries and murder ‘em, and call it civilisation’.

It’s a strong insight into the modern world and an ancient culture, one which doesn’t need skyscrapers because Country is a place of belonging and a way of believing.

Good onya, Melissa, for audaciously holding your nerve*

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


* REFERENCE : Sydney Morning Herald interview insights into the writing of ‘Too Much Lip’
https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/melissa-lucashenko-too-much-lip-was-a-frightening-book-to-write-20180724-h1326h.html

AUTHOR PROFILE : Melissa Lucashenko is an acclaimed Aboriginal writer of Goorie and European heritage.  Since 1997 Melissa has been widely published as an award-winning novelist, essayist and short story writer.

AUTHOR WEBSITE : https://www.melissa-lucashenko.com/

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NAIDOC Week 2019

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NAIDOC Week 7 July – 14 July 2019

‘Awaken’ artwork by Kaurna and Narungga woman Charmaine Mumbulla.  Charmaine cares deeply about the 2019 National NAIDOC theme, and about the celebration of Indigenous art and history.

“Early dawn light rises over Uluru, symbolising our continued spiritual and unbroken connection to the land.  The circles at the base of Uluru represent the historic gathering in May 2017 of over 250 people from many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations who adopted the Uluru Statement from the Heart.  Our message, developed through generations, is echoed throughout the land: hear our voice and recognise our truth.  We call for a new beginning, marked by a formal process of agreement and truth-telling, that will allow us to move forward together.”

Learn more about poster winner Charmaine Mumbulla.

Download a copy of the National NAIDOC Poster and Teaching Guide.

Website https://www.naidoc.org.au/

Indigenous Network https://www.indigenous.gov.au/regional-network

As a National NAIDOC poster winner, Charmaine Mumbulla is excited to be part of NAIDOC history.  Charmaine plans to celebrate NAIDOC Week by taking her children to the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and achievements with a community BBQ and entertainment.  Charmaine will also be doing some workshops at her children’s school and making their favourite morning tea…Johnny cakes with lilly pilly jam.

NAIDOC Week 2019 Artist Mumbulla News

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Review ‘Heart of the Grass Tree’ by Molly Murn

Simon McDonald is a Sydney-based reader, writer and senior bookseller at Potts Point Bookshop.  I always enjoy his book reviews.  Simon writes perceptive, eloquent and up-to-the-minute appraisals which have helped me discover some great stories and I look forward to reading this book.  GBW.

Molly Murn is a South Australian author and poet.  She holds a Bachelor of Dance, a Masters of Creative Arts, and is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Flinders University.  ‘Heart of the Grass Tree’ is Molly’s first novel.  https://mollymurn.com

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Simon McDonald

9780143792499With Heart of the Grass Tree, Molly Murn cements herself as not only one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming novelists, but a brilliant novelist of Australia.

In the South Australian author’s debut, multiple generations of a family ensconced in secrets and embroiled in personal turmoil converge on Kangaroo Island to farewell Nell, an Indigenous elder, mother and grandmother. The narrative flits between their stories, which occur in distinct time periods — the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries — and their unifying factor is Kangaroo Island, which makes the island, and its distinct landscape and indigenous population, the Ngarrindjeri people, the true protagonist of this extraordinary novel.

Lyricism empowers this tale of settlement on Kangaroo Island. Its prose is gorgeous, every page jewelled by Murn’s lyrical parlance, antithetical to the brutality of its conquest by the first settlers. Her rendering of the island’s natural beauty and it’s violent, oppressive history is…

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NAIDOC Week ‘Because of Her, We Can’

NAIDOC Week 2018 Poster

Artwork:  tarmunggie-woman
Artist:  Cheryl Moggs

The 2018 National NAIDOC Poster was designed by Cheryl Moggs, a Bigambul woman from Goondiwindi, Queensland.  Cheryl drew on the history, courage and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to educate others.  The artwork (tarmunggie – woman) has three overlaying images, connecting dreamtime, culture and knowledge.

BECAUSE OF HER, WE CAN!

Theme:  NAIDOC Week 2018 celebrates the invaluable contributions that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make – to our communities, our families, our rich history and to our nation.

“This artwork portrays the courage and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.  From the ripples of fresh water and salt water, across the travel pathways and song lines of our traditional lands and skies”.

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Background:  NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life.  The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Origin:  NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’.  This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself.  Find out more about the origins and timeline history of NAIDOC Week.  Find out the history of the Australian Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag under Australian Flags.

Awards:  Each year there is a different focus city for the National NAIDOC Awards Ceremony.

  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Person of the Year
  • Female Elder of the Year
  • Male Elder of the Year
  • Caring for Country Award
  • Youth of the Year
  • Artist of the Year
  • Scholar of the Year
  • Apprentice of the Year
  • Sportsperson of the Year

This year the focus city of Sydney will start NAIDOC Week with the 2018 National NAIDOC Awards announced at a black tie ceremony and ball.  National NAIDOC Poster Competition and the NAIDOC Awards recipients are selected by the National NAIDOC Committee.

Websitenaidoc.org.au
Facebook:  facebook.com/@NAIDOC
Twitter:  #NAIDOC2018 #BecauseOfHerWeCan

To learn more about NAIDOC Week activities in your area, contact your nearest Regional Office.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

NAIDOC Poster Facebook Banner 2018

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Indigenous Astronomy

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When I discovered this link to Karlie Noon and her life as an Indigenous scientist, I also learned about predicting the weather from a moon halo.

Karlie Noon, interviewed by Marc Fennell on NITV Australia/SBS The Feed, was the first Indigenous woman in NSW to graduate with a double degree in mathematics and physics… but Indigenous Australians have been practicing science long before universities were teaching it.  There is evidence in the form of rock art depicting Indigenous knowledge before Galileo, Newton or Kepler made their discoveries.

This video delves into Karlie’s early life, visits the instrumentation building for space exploration and explains the reading of a moon halo.

 

Gretchen Bernet-Ward