#AWW2016 Review – Bantam by Terry Whitebeach

Bantam

Mick is an 18 year old Indigenous man living in the small town of Bantam. He’s just moved out of home and is struggling to find work, a decent place to live, and a girlfriend.

I’ve never read anything quite like this book. Written for those “whose reading skills are dodgy, or even absent, but whose hopes and dreams are as significant as everybody else’s and whose story is just as worth telling” Terry’s writing style is light-heartened, easy to read and enjoyable, and there were lots of things that gave me a chuckle:

“Back in the ute, they bump along the track to visit Rob, a spun-out Vietnam vet who lives up here on the hill. Rob’s been building a crazy house out of booze bottles and concrete and galvanised iron for the last twenty years.

He’s a head case. Drinks himself legless every night. Has to, he reckons, so he doesn’t run out of building materials.”

But the novel doesn’t shy away from the deeper issues facing Indigenous people, such as youth suicide, deaths in custody, discrimination and domestic violence.

Though Mick and his mates go through all the ups and downs of life out on their own; the struggles with girlfriends, finding a place to live, and the adventures of small town life -the story ends in a good place for Mick.

“He imagines for a moment he’s going to say something special, something big, like poetry, or the Bible, but the words don’t come. Somehow it doesn’t matter. They’re there, deep in his belly, and on the wind and in the air and glinting on the scales of the salmon.”

 

 

 

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