Someone Else's Country (Peter Docker) pdf, epub, doc

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I read this book as we travelled through Austria and Germany. I don't speak German so the sense of being in someone else's county was real, and concurrent with that the sense that I was Australian. It is who I am.

In 'Someone Else's Country', Peter Docker, writing in the first person as Stephen Motor, takes us on a ride as he discovers what it is to not belong in your own country. Stephen Motor is an actor who plays a red-headed Irish born policeman in plays of early settlement of Australia. He shares backstage and taxi rides with Aboriginal actors. What he experiences is more than the prejudice, the late night taxis speeding by to leave them standing in the rain, or the refusal of a beer at the pub. It is an understanding.

Akin, perhaps, to the Austrian national obsession with schnitzel and parsley potatoes. Or their thing with strudel? I can never understand it and I will always be on someone else's country when I am in Austria, even if I learned German and ate schnitzel. And so, as Stephen Motor discovers there are several hundred Aboriginal 'nations' and as the plays move around the country, he is in several ways, on someone else's country.

Peter Docker writes his chapters as short, almost disconnected segments, and it is not always easy or pleasant to read. But the overall effect is exceptional and in the end it is you as much as anyone who is in a foreign country called Australia.

In the way that reading Dickens teaches the history of England, 'Someone Else's Country' shows a history of contemporary Australia. Not a history as in dates and places, events or battles but the history as in how people lived.

This is the importance of novels. How would you like your life remembered? As a series of dates? Is this era in which we live Iraq, Afganistan, Ebola, the war on whatever? Or is it facebook, twitter, speed dating and online scams? How we live, how people meet, what do they do, what do we talk about? History will teach us the former, a novel will show us the latter.

I digress. Something Peter Docker does not do. He writes in short fragments, often not complete sentences. 'Kouri land. I'm away from home. North west of ..' etc. He runs from speech to thought and past to present all together on one page. Somehow, it makes sense but you do need to pay attention as you read (a bit like how you must notice here that Austria and Australia are not the same). The result is a mood. A disconnected culture. What keeps it from being depressing is the hope and love of the people he meets, some of whom are exceptional.

At the end of the book, when asked by an old auntie who his mob is, Stephen Motor cannot tell the truth because his shame is so great, and I have to say, an opportunity was lost. Maybe that is the point, to show that if we deny who we are for the shame of it the battle is lost. If there is one thing to learn from this book it is to be who we are and proud of it. I don't think that means we have to fight. There are too many good things in the world. But no more parsley potatoes, please.

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Book info

  • Author:
  • Publisher:Fremantle Press
  • File: 6 Mb
  • Release: 01.06.2009
  • Pages 416
  • Rating: 4.08 (8 votes)


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