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FREE ã Drylands ⛓ In her flat above Drylands s newsagency, Janet Deakin is writing a book for the world s last reader Little has changed in heryears, except for the coming of cable TV Loneliness is almost a religion, and still everyone knows your business But the town is being outmanoeuvred by drought and begins to empty, pouring itself out like water into sand Small minds shrink even smaller in the vastness of the land One man is forced out by council rates and bigotry another sells his property, risking the lot to build his dream And all of them are shadowed by violence of some sort these people whose only victory over the town is in leaving it This was magnificent Hitting Thea Astley hard Keep them coming Janet Deakin had lived in Drylands for as long as she could remember She and Ted had been happy Ted had passed away some time back, and Janet was lonely she lived alone above the newsagency where she worked Janet tried to interest the townsfolk in books instead of the usual magazines and local paper, but she was fighting a losing battle After hours were spent writing her own book it was for the world s last reader.But the people of Drylands were struggling the drought was driving peop Janet Deakin had lived in Drylands for as long as she could remember She and Ted had been happy Ted had passed away some time back, and Janet was lonely she lived alone above the newsagency where she worked Janet tried to interest the townsfolk in books instead of the usual magazines and local paper, but she was fighting a losing battle After hours were spent writing her own book it was for the world s last reader.But the people of Drylands were struggling the drought was driving people out The increase in council rates, the lack of jobs in the area, the young people with nothing to do, getting into trouble and causing trouble to all and anyone they could inflict themselves onto The sadness of people, the dreams they once shared and had begun to live all came to a crushing halt one way or another.As Janet watched the town die, and tried to put it down on paper, her loneliness built she could see others leaving could understand them cutting their losses and getting away But could she do it herself Would Ted tell her to just get out She was sure she could hear him telling her tojust go, love, just go I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful novel which won the Miles Franklin Award in 2000 Australian author Thea Astley won the Miles Franklin Award four times 1962 The Well dressed Explorer, 1965 The Slow Natives, 1972 The Acolyte and 2000 Drylands She won many other awards as well over the course of her career and passed away in August 2004 This novel covers topics of bigotry and racism, bitterness and hatred, bullying and small mindedness But it also shows compassion, courage and that great Aussie determination A wonderful novel of literary fiction which I highly recommend This reads like Astley s last book on checking it is This might sound negative, but not so, Astley is still as dry humoured witty acerbic as ever.She thumps her soapbox over the increase in interest of electronic gadgets over reading no one writes, or reads or is interested in world events in Drylands The stock in the newsagency is going yellow and the owner is forced to stocking videos The serious novel is dead is a frequent mantra Astley was watching book stores die as she wrote th This reads like Astley s last book on checking it is This might sound negative, but not so, Astley is still as dry humoured witty acerbic as ever.She thumps her soapbox over the increase in interest of electronic gadgets over reading no one writes, or reads or is interested in world events in Drylands The stock in the newsagency is going yellow and the owner is forced to stocking videos The serious novel is dead is a frequent mantra Astley was watching book stores die as she wrote this I believe she would be pleased to see the resurgence of on line stores and ebooks although I would love her cutting remarks regarding the YA boom of popularity right now.Rather than a normal narrative plot, it is almost 6 or 7 connected stories involving the people of Drylands and why they are there It is only in the last 50 pages or so, that they all flow into a single coda of a narrative This works well even the times when an event is repeated, you see that event from another perspective and it only enhances the importance, rather than bores.Astley s Queensland has always been populated by broken drunks, or someone hiding, or someone being constrained by small town mentality and bigotry It is all here andThe great thing is they are believable and if you have experienced life in smaller communities, very accurate Astley s microscope of Australian human nature has always been accurate and scathing and sharp as any surgeon s scalpel.There is also violence, often psychological There is nothing worse than knowing well your attacker They know you your foibles and can manipulate muchthan any stranger The powerlessness of knowing your attempted rapists and knowing you will be treated as the villain must be chilling indeed Knowing the only way is to move out, at a loss is ugly Astley handles this portion of the novel masterfully and from the woman s perspective with clarity and lack of sentimentality.Astley was writing during a period of the country going through tough times bank foreclosures, lack of free money thus business closures in short, a town dying I remember those days Astley has encapsulated it honestly, truthfully and faithfully There have been innovative ways of revitalising towns, but they have been remission periods and I seeempty premises again in the past year or so.My favourite character is Bryceland He is the wealthy local, a councillor for the local council, buys up all the land and businesses He might now own the newsagent and the pub, and vast acreage, but you don t sell very much when the town is empty Short term gain, long term pain I believe this the favoured strategy of most Australian governments His glee is for the mentally retarded that believe in the here and now.I heard this appropriately driving across the Hay Plains and up through the arid lands of central Australia If you get the opportunity to acquire the audiobook read by Beverley Dunn, do so This reader oozes the Queensland accent inflections perfectly She made me laugh with her skillful reading a lot fortunately I traveled alone otherwise I believe I would have deafened my companion I suspect she would be unintelligible to my North American friends.This is a fitting final work to the wonderful opus of the currently neglected Thea Astley Yes, I am a fan Drylands is Thea Astley at her fine, angry best This novel, which turned out to be her last she died in 2004, aged 78 , earned her the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2000, a prize she shared with joint winner Kim Scott for his novel Benang From the Heart.Astley, it has to be said, is not always an easy writer to read Her prose is dense and rich in metaphors and her ideas are astute and political, the product of an inquiring and intelligent mind.But this book, which is set in a small Austra Drylands is Thea Astley at her fine, angry best This novel, which turned out to be her last she died in 2004, aged 78 , earned her the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2000, a prize she shared with joint winner Kim Scott for his novel Benang From the Heart.Astley, it has to be said, is not always an easy writer to read Her prose is dense and rich in metaphors and her ideas are astute and political, the product of an inquiring and intelligent mind.But this book, which is set in a small Australian town succumbing slowly to the drought, resonated with me, perhaps because I identified with the themes presented here of small town loneliness and alienation of kicking back against a culture too obsessed with sport and too inward looking and parochial to care about the importance of reading and language.It is subtitled a book for the world s last reader which suggests that it might have a literary slant to it, but even readers and, in particular, book groups and book festivals get a slight drubbing in this coolly intellectual novel.To read the rest of my review, please visit my blog