I’m afraid I’m going to undersell this. It’s a wonderful book, indispensably adding to the theme of growing up in Australia.
It’s my second five star book in a row, the first by Helen Garner and now this, with Garner’s words on the cover: ‘a dry, sparkling clarity, a pure tone that hovers on the edge of laughter: these stories are a revelation’.
It is frequently observed that part of Garner’s attraction is the way she writes about Melbourne. One could say the same of Goodfellow about Adelaide, the difference being that she is looking and he is being. It’s his life, not hers.
For me, ten years younger than Goodfellow, raised in an asbestos Housing Trust house in an area full of them, on the outskirts of the city, this was memory lane, but it doesn’t need to be that. I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t be entranced by this collection of a now-gone way of life written with a poet’s understanding of keeping it simple and focussed. It’s a delight to read for its own sake. But it’s also important that we preserve history this way, if only to give life to research like Adelaide Housing and Planning 1946-1959.
It took a few hours to read this, but I will treasure it for a long time to come. A report on his poetry to come.