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Monday, June 25, 2012

KIMBERLEY STORIES: 'Rich diversity out West'

Edited by Sandy Toussaint.
Fremantle Press. 212pp. $24.95.

Reviewer: Ian McFarlane Canberra Times

The vast horizons of Western Australia easily encompass the distinct regions of the Kimberley which is as far north as you can go before reaching the Timor Sea and the wheatbelt … [ED: Review of wheatbelt book deleted from this posting.]Anthropologist and author Sandy Toussaint knows the Kimberley well, and her charmingly kaleidoscopic collection of local fiction, non-fiction, scraps of memoir and poetry includes work from indigenous and non-indigenous writers.

The Kimberley is a scarily beautiful place with an exotic blend of indigenous and non-indigenous personalities, and Toussaint does well to capture this diversity with a range of contributors that reflect fascinating links between where and how we live, and who we become as a result. Pat Mamanyjun Torres is an indigenous woman from a family of traditional owners of lands around Broome. She writes with seductive wisdom about the indigenous notion of a sacred earth, and why such ancient belief is still relevant to 21st-century technology. -The Dreaming is about our religion, laws and rules for life. The Dreaming is both past and present; if we grasp it with both hands, and with our minds andmspirit, it can influence our future; it is circular, a never-ending concept of time. The knowledge of our early peoples, our dreaming ancestors and the interrelated connections through our individual rayi-spirit child, its jalnga or power, and boogarri its dreamings is what makes us unique beings."

Pat Lowe is an English woman who migrated to Australia in 1972, becoming a psychologist in child welfare before discovering life with indigenous artist Jimmy Pike, with whom she lived in the desert for three years. Her story about a crippled seagull invokes a vulnerability shared between all living things. Murray Jennings, poet, short-story writer, broadcaster and journalist, describes a likeably larrikin bush funeral, and first-time published teenager Luisa Mitchell uses her "all big and dirty" feet to take "good old Kimberley over Perth any day".

Toussaint says this collection of Kimberley stories "explores the intricacies of nature, pockets of social distress and disquiet. and reflects humour, joy and hopefulness". I agree, and suggest there is not a lot more any reader could reasonably expect. Highly recommended.

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