'Dante and Johnno are unlikely childhood friends, growing up in the bustle of steamy, wartime Brisbane. Later, as teenagers, they learn about love and life amidst the city's pubs and public libraries, backyards and brothels, Moreton Bay figs and tennis parties. As adults, they make the great pilgrimage overseas and maintain an uneasy friendship as they seek to build their lives.
'An affectionate and bittersweet portrait, Johnno brilliantly recreates the sleazy, tropical half-city that was Brisbane and captures a generation locked in combat with the elusive Australian dream.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (Penguin).
'In his 2006 thesis, “‘Staying Bush’ – A Study of Gay Men Living in Rural Areas”, author Edward Green described his subject as the “largely hidden and untold story of gay men living in rural areas”. That was a pivotal year for gay men living in the bush, with Australian television broadcasters platforming two of their stories. In the space of one 12-month period, this cohort went from “hidden and untold” to prime time. From as early as 1989, rural politician Bob Katter had been declaring that he would “walk to Bourke backwards if the poof population of North Queensland is any more than 0.001 per cent”. Analysing media and popular culture, this article explores the visibility and portrayal of rural gay men in Australia prior to and after 2006. In spite of Katter’s minuscule population estimates, the rural gay cohort continues to defy assumptions.' (Publication abstract)
'Story-telling, the pleasure of sitting in close company and listening to a story, allowing oneself to float free in the moment and enter, both in the senses and in imagination, into the story's events so that the story becomes our own, must be one of the oldest and earliest of our pleasures - a function of that uniquely human faculty in us, the capacity to step beyond the actual into the possible.' (Introduction)
'This discursive essay – part exegesis, part literary analysis – analyses the act of writing about Asia from Australia (and from the west). I use the circumstances of my early childhood to frame my interest in ‘Asia’, suggesting that Australia is a genuinely diverse nation that is engaged with the region but that it also retains and values a monocultural outlook. In turn, I analyse several novels by westerners about Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge (including my own novel, Figurehead) to reflect on, first, cultural appropriation, and, second, the limits of empathy in fiction.'