Slow thought, hectic subjects

Geordie Williamson’s introduction to The Best Australian Essays 2016 asserts the essay ‘creates a place for slow thought on hectic subjects.’
Book Info
The Best Australian Essays 2016
Editor - Geordie Williamson
Black Inc

As well as the political there are also reflections on the things of nature, culture, loss and understanding in this collection of twenty-nine essays.

The essays I enjoyed most were Kim Scott’s Both Hands Full and Ashley Hay’s, The Bus Stop.

Both Hands Full contemplates how Indigenous language and storytelling marks renewal and inspiration whilst at times allowing people to retreat from the contemporary realities Aboriginal people face as a result of colonisation. Sensitive with a very sophisticated structure, the essay left me with the dilemma to ponder and consider. I’m sure I’ll be ruminating on Both Hands Full in 2017.

I read The Bus Stop at the beginning of this year’s storm season. Hay’s essay describes a 2014 storm in our town that did millions of dollars of damage when rain, wind and hail lashed the southern suburbs.  Hay reminds the reader the storm is not a literary device. Her precise and moving description brings to life the helplessness and fear in meeting a furious force. To overcome the left trauma of the storm, sometime later, Hay’s pen described the vulnerability she’d felt stranded in a bus stop. This piece evoked being scared of the inabilitiy to protect a loved one, in a circumstance outside of her control whilst also speaking to how writing about it later may address the sense of inadequacy that was experienced by Hay during the storm. 

This is a solid collection of local writing that engages with the ideas and events that have been in our minds and hearts in 2016.  


Michelle Karen