Sunday, January 08, 2006
The Fatal Shore
It is a constant source of disappointment to me that Mister Monkey can read history books galore and actually retain facts from these books, while I learn only vague concepts. For example, he has just finished reading a big fat book about Persia and has learned many exciting things about Persia which he will happily share with you (if he ever updates his bloody blog, that is). I read a whole exciting novel about Persia last year, and the only thing I can remember is that there was once a Persian king called Arses.
I'm a bit like that about Australia now. Even after reading six hundred fairly dense pages about transportation and the colonial beginnings of Australia, all I can really tell you is an amusing story about a bloke called Pearce who was a cannibal. Or that you really, really didn't want to end up getting transported to Norfolk Island. Or that you didn't want to be a woman who got transported. Otherwise, there were worse things that could happen you than being sent to Botany Bay. In general, you worked hard, you got your ticket-of-leave, and you had a chance to be set up with some land and you could get some convicts of your own and start your own farm or business or whatever it was you had been doing in Ireland or England before you got greedy or stupid and did whatever it was that got you transported in the first place. In fact, one of the British government's biggest problems, once the colony was up and running, was to retain some sort of threatening air about it, which was very difficult seeing as how things were pretty crap for the English poor at that time.
It's a very good book, even if it does repeat itself a little and sometimes there's a little too much talk about architecture for my liking (namely, any at all. I don't care about architecture), but there's no way it should have taken me two months to read.