''You find yourself down at the bottom of the river, for some it's time to give into her. But other times, young fellas like you two, you got to fight your way back. Show the river you got courage and is ready to live.'
'The river is a place of history and secrets. For Ren and Sonny, two unlikely friends, it's a place of freedom and adventure. For a group of storytelling vagrants, it's a refuge. And for the isolated daughter of a cult reverend, it's an escape.
'Each time they visit, another secret slips into its ancient waters. But change and trouble are coming – to the river and to the lives of those who love it. Who will have the courage to fight and survive and what will be the cost?' (Publication summary)
For our dear friend and brother,
Stephen John Ward (1958-1979)
we love you always.
And for the river boys - Danny, Peter,
Colin, Lawrie, Russell, Sparrow, and Garry Arnold (1955-2011);
and the beautiful river girls - Debbie and Irene.
'Five years ago, I was invited to participate in a global project on climate change. The aim was to engage 15-year-old students with the challenges posed by climate change and the increase of extreme weather events. The students would be asked to respond to the challenge through creativity, initially through an introduction to the science underpinning climate change. In the following 18 months, I visited schools in Ireland, England, Germany and Poland, and also worked with a group of students at Footscray City College in Melbourne. The project would culminate in an environmental youth summit at the International Literature Festival Berlin.' (Introduction)
'There are many books that kindle nostalgia for the pleasures of childhood, but there is also the rare book that does the same for its calamities. Tony Birch’s Ghost River is a novel that paints young lives, then dangles them perilously close to booze, neglect, corrupt police, a Greek gangster, and the silt- and body-clogged river that runs through their backyards. The pages are lean and read quickly, like some cinematic current or the fleeting attention spans of the young, and though you do not have to be young or old or even Australian to enjoy the meanders of Birch’s plot, you must have immense reserves of your own imagination to endure its drying up in the final stretches of the book. Luckily for Birch, Ghost River builds enough momentum through its little protagonists’ immense charms to leave readers focused on them and not the lulls in narrative weight. ' (Introduction)
This article explores the possibility of intercultural catharsis through literature, metaphorical connections and representations of place in Tony Birch’s Ghost River (2015). Water, rain and essentially the river, symbolise the building of a nation and the repair of Indigenous and non-Indigenous race relations. Aristotle’s theory of catharsis is deconstructed and built upon using Indigenous philosophies and intercultural dialogue to explore ideas about relationship building as a spiritual journey connected to the textual directions of the landscape.