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Capturing A Time

I've been running a bit of an informal poll around people I know, trying to find out if they've ever read a book, seen a film, passed a poem, come into contact with anything that captures the 'spirit' of Sydney to them. I don't mean something that is about Sydney, but something that actually sums up or comes close to how you view the city, a text that you could say to someone, "This is a Sydney book." Most people look sheepish and shrug and say, "No, I don't have one," which is fine, because neither do I. But lately I've been expanding it into texts that capture what Australia is about, if you can, I guess, since it's a rather difficult task to capture a nation's psyche and cultural time in any kind of way...

Still, the answers haven't been much different. So, in the aim of simply seeing what people think, and maybe growing my own knowledge, I've made a poll, and you are all free to take part.

Poll #509226 Things Australian

Name Your Book

Comments

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deborahb
Jun. 10th, 2005 01:57 am (UTC)
At the time that I watched it, the screenplay for Emerald City meant something to me about my Sydney. Not seen it in a while, so no longer sure if that's true, but it was a film set in a city that's a kinda international place, with middle-class people & it held the line, 'We need to see stories in our own accents or else we forget who we are' -- or similar.

Also, I would nominate Wild Side & the exceptional cop drama Phoenix & its follow up (whatever it was called). Mainly because all these products were classy & intelligent & weren't self-consciously Australian, which is certainly my experience of Australia.

Anything set in the bush or 'on the land' because that's 'the real Australia' is instantly dismissed for me. Anything involving teenagers & beaches is also not my Australia. Anything involving drag queens in the middle of the desert is an irrelevance.

Also, of course, as you already know, Australian-ness just isn't particularly a concept that interests me. Which, as you've argued, is indeed my experience of Australia. Ergo, I most enjoy product that would be at home almost anywhere in the world. With only the accents changed. :)
benpeek
Jun. 10th, 2005 11:54 am (UTC)
i've never heard of wild side or pheonix. who was in it?

see, me, i figure, that a fiction doesn't have to be about being australian. i think that might be the problem with the things--so much produced is about capturing, about trying to put those images which, as you say, aren't your life, into fictions. or something like that. i dunno. my head ain't quite right this evening.
deborahb
Jun. 10th, 2005 12:35 pm (UTC)
Wildside (sorry, one word -- & look, found this really useful website: http://www.australiantelevision.net/ws/wildside.html) had Tony Martin, Alex Dimitriades, Rachael Blake, & an assortment of others. Martin & Dimitriades were cops. Blake was a social worker, I think. An excellent cop drama (ABC), best known for the intelligent & capable ad libbing from a pretty sophisticated cast. I stopped watching eventually because nothing happy ever happens. :)

Phoenix (http://www.australiantelevision.net/phoenix/articles.html) was another ABC production & to my mind, the best thing I've ever seen on Aust TV. The first time I came across repeats of Phoenix, I vowed not to watch it again because the journey is too unrelenting & exhausting. But I couldn't help it. I watched the first episode & instantly vowed not to watch the rest. Would love to try again now, actually. I think.

Begins with an explosion & doesn't really let up. It's more of a traditional narrative than Wildside, & more of an ensemble piece, & all of this makes it harder to bear somehow. Definitely needs to be viewed from ep. 1 or else nothing at all will make sense.

Quote from above link: "A hard-edged, gritty drama about the tense and claustrophobic world of a major crime task force set up to solve an urban terrorist bombing, a Task Force which brings together a crew of idiosyncratic, competitive characters over a knife-edged maximum stressed two months."
(Anonymous)
Jun. 13th, 2005 06:39 am (UTC)
the dark side of Sydney
Hi Ben it's Lynda up here in the Far North Boonies.

I would pick books like Someone Else's Daughter (about the Anita Cobby murder) and Blacktown by Shane Weaver (read a review here http://www.api-network.com/cgi-bin/reviews/jrbview.cgi?n=1863254072&issue=28) ie; those that deal with the parts of Sydney which lie far away from the glittering Harbour...
congrats on getting your work into the CW reader!
benpeek
Jun. 13th, 2005 11:16 am (UTC)
Re: the dark side of Sydney
thank you muchly.

i'm a bit iffy about having the work in the reader. you know me--it goes against that idea i got that the course is about students, not me pimping my shit. i got other avenues for that. but it'll suit the lecture, and anne is pretty keen for it, and it should stop students from hassling me to see stuff. it might even have other benefits...
(Anonymous)
Jun. 13th, 2005 05:13 pm (UTC)
not a book or poem but a song. it's "purple sneakers" by you am i. there's the obvious "underneath the Glebe Point Bridge" which I think still exists somewhere underneath the Anzac Bridge now. when i was a kid it was a buzz to cross the glebe point bridge because it looked so old and unsafe that you would naturally expect the bridge to fall apart any minute.

coincedentally, the first time i heard this song properly was when i started hanging out at a friend's place at pyrmont.

john
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