The Subversive Art of Reflective Writing

I finished the ‘Art of the Engine Driver

divx life before her eyes the free s ance

‘ yesterday and found it a brilliant read, but not in the way you might normally expect. It was a slow moving, almost meandering type of book, but it drew you into the lives of the characters in a powerful yet deceptive way.

The story is set in one of Melbourne’s frontier suburbs in the 1950’s and explores the lives of the folks who live in that street. It is unapologetically ‘ordinary’ in its content matter yet it is superb in its writing and in the way it delves into the issues that confront suburban people at the outer edge of the city. As you read you cannot help but feel drawn into their lives and from there to reflect on your own experience of suburban life.

Here’s the publisher blurb:

The Art of the Engine Driver is the story of one evening in the lives of the residents of a new outer Melbourne suburb. As a mighty steam train leaves Spencer Street Station on its haul to Sydney‚ a family of three ? Vic‚ Rita and their son Michael are walking down their street to an engagement party. George Bedser‚ a shipbuilder from Liverpool‚ is celebrating the engagement of his daughter‚ Patsy. He has no family here and has invited the whole street to the party. Vic is an engine driver‚ looking to be like his hero Paddy Ryan and become the master of the smooth ride. As the neighbours walk to the party using a mixture of description and internal monologue ? we hear their stories and are drawn into the lives of a bully‚ a drunk‚ a restless young girl and a happy family man. On this hot summer?s night the old and the new‚ diesel and steam‚ town and country all collide and nobody is left unaffected. This is a distinctly Australian novel in the spirit of Tim Winton and Robert Drewe‚ a luminous and evocative tale of ordinary suburban lives with an extraordinary power and depth.

I really enjoyed being part of the pathos that is so often assumed to be ‘normal’ life. From the confused girl to the worka/alcoholic husband and the resigned wife. These are all people I know and somehow that makes it that much more incisive.

I have just started his latest book, The Time We Have Taken – which is the third in the trilogy (I couldn’t find the second!) and is a Miles Franklyn winner.

Its great to have discovered another Aussie author who genuinely makes me want to keep reading!

5 thoughts on “The Subversive Art of Reflective Writing

  1. No more books this year!!!

    I have Coffee House Theology arriving next week – that’s it!!! Hamo I enjoyed the God Next Door book that you gave the heads up BUT for those of us living in places like Albany the burbs and urbs are pretty hard to relate too – I really liked the idea though of an exegetical walk and there other nuggets I can use.

    I’ve just had an idea – I will the book as a stocking filler for my wife and after she is done I can read it.

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