Sunday 19 April 2015
36 Fraser Street, Clunes Victoria 3370
Sunday Selections Author Talk with Alice Robinson
A Free Event
2-3pm @ The Warehouse
“An eloquent and arresting Australian novel no reader will easily forget”
When her mother disappears into the bush, ten-year-old Laura makes an impulsive decision that will haunt her for decades. In her debut novel, local author Alice Robinson asks timely questions about our relationship to the land, the past and each other. Anchor Point is a moving addition to the emerging genre of Climate Change Fiction.
Review – by Tim Nolan
I loved this book. It started slowly, and at first I wasn’t really drawn into Laura’s experience of her world. I found that, for a ten year old, Laura’s life was too loaded with connections, memories and implications for me to find a comfortable way into her character or the story. But as the story unfolds it becomes clear that Laura is an incredibly well drawn character. In Anchor Point, Robinson edges us towards, and then right into, the deep emotional connections to place and to the ideas we have about ourselves that make change and loss such powerful human experiences. Robinson does a great job of allowing the reader to feel time – to feel the length and depth of certain events, of their imprint on both people and places. Anchor Point covers four decades and across that whole span of time Laura continually tries to protect her sister, support her father, heal the land and, in all of that, to be the person who can bear the load. Over that time, everything around her becomes loaded by her involvement with it. Each fence post, each tree, each crack in the soil have her own struggles etched in them. In fighting the land, trying to nurture it, tame it, heal it, and untangle herself from it, we see that Laura can never really be disconnected from it. In some ways the land is indifferent to her, and despite all her efforts Laura is basically impotent and insignificant, but that doesn’t mean she can escape her connections to it. She is, like all of us really, completely tied to it. This sense that Laura is the country, that everything around her is a fading reflection of her time on the earth, including all the people she has met and every decision she has made, is the thing that in the end makes the story, and the ache within it, so powerful. Laura’s ache for country and for herself (for a life lived trying to do the right thing and being left wondering if it was really worth it) resonated with me. It’s easy to see how these questions make Anchor Point a book worth reading and talking about. Are we connected to place? How do “greenies” and “farmers” move beyond their differences to find ways to honour their connection to country? Is there a way to create a new and deeper understanding of indigeneity? How can we honour Indigenous connections to country and what can we learn from them? All change entails loss – either we lose the land or we lose a way of life that generations of people have struggled to create, always trying to “improve the land”. Do we have the energy to do it? And will we be left looking out a hotel window, watching the world burn, drinking a luke-warm cup of tea, and wondering if we should have made different choices? I am really looking forward to sitting down with Alice and hearing how she crafted this brilliant debut novel, which is clearly full of heart as well as sweat and skill.
Tim Nolan is a teacher, with a special interest in environmental sustainability. He is also a Booktown volunteer and the curator of the 2015 Sunday Selections.