In many obvious ways the pros of being employed outweigh the negatives, though employment in the form of two or more casual jobs brings no greater feeling of security than the dole. Neither does being employed in a job you aren’t all that great at. The depression eases when the bills are being paid, but the relief is only temporary. For me, all the standing in line, all the being spoken down to all amounted to nothing more than the freedom to not have to report my income.
I was a fan of the 45. Initially this was due to financial constraints – albums were more expensive, and my pocket money was capped at $2.50 a week. But I grew to like the portability, the surprise of the B-side. I even liked the physical action of having to get up to turn the disc over. With a single, I could have a three-minute vacation in one feeling, and then move on to another. A single was like flirting, an album was commitment.
From my position as an Indian immigrant in Australia, a writer and scholar, Questions of Travel provided a selfie of a country that I and people like me could retweet and circulate, contributing to the flow of the literary selfie. In this book I saw a Sri Lankan Australian author writing about Sri Lanka, Australia and our larger world: a self enacting self. A text saying ‘see me showing you me’. Not through autobiography, but through the work that only fiction can do.
It always shocks people to learn abortion is still a crime in New Zealand – we were, after all, the first country to enfranchise women. But an overhaul of our laws are desperately needed, and, be still my heart, abortion law reform could actually be an issue at the coming election.
There’s a bigger and more fundamental question that is usually elided when debates like this pop up. Maybe it’s easier for me, as someone whose current stake in Australian literature is largely limited to that of a reader’s (and, I suspect, as one of the few civilians who has read two of the three shortlisted Miles Franklin novels mentioned by McAvan in her opening paragraph), to put this question into words: ‘Why does no one care about Australian books?’