The Novels of Alex Miller: An introduction
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It is an invaluable resource for anyone teaching and studying contemporary Australian literature. More books by this author. ISBN: Back to top. Love books? He also begins to understand how many obstacles there will be to thwart his ambition. When Robert is introduced to Lena Soren, beautiful, rich and educated, his life takes a very different path. But in the intimacy of their connection lies an unknowability that both torments and tantalises as Robert and Lena long for something that neither can provide for the other.
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In a rich blend of thoughtful and beautifully observed writing, the lives of a husband and wife are laid bare in their passionate struggle to engage with their individual creativity. Alex Miller is magnificent in this most personal of all novels filled with rare wisdom and incisive observation. Remember when English regional voices were considered uncouth? Now a Yorkshire or Geordie inflection has international cultural cachet. Alex Miller is the opposite.
He frankly acknowledges that he always draws from life — and then transfigures what he knows through the alchemy of fiction, so it becomes something else. Another order of truth. Alex Miller says stories are gifted to him like this. It is as though they drop from the skies. But if they drop, it is into fertile ground.
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But the story, and its mercurial heroine, rapidly outgrew their sources and assumed a vivid, independent life. Characteristically, his completed tale ripples outwards from its poignant centre. Are those differences irreconcilable?
Others, like Bo and Annabelle, are drawn together by a force that seems to transcend history and suggests possibilities, once unimagined. Bo and Annabelle both have forebears who murdered out of fear, racial malice, or in lethal payback. They also have family members who crossed racial divides, confounding cultural norms and expectations. When it is taken from her, late in her life, the dispossession is done by fraud, not by law. The task of its repossession falls to her grandson, Iain Ban Rennie — renamed Bo by this formidable woman.
The novel is as much about the way power is used — so often ruthlessly — by dominant individuals and groups as it is about racial difference. Dougald also looms authoritatively over Stone Country — a bridge figure between the Old People and the next generation, the new life.
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Who are the barbarians? The power imbalance is implicit — whites dominated, at least in the recent past. Nor is he blind to the physical and social havoc caused by white presumptions of mastery and the alienation of Aboriginal lands. But his novel is also a register of change, and of the human and political complexities and ironies of twenty-first-century circumstances.
But the Ranna valley is scheduled to be flooded, its splendour obliterated.
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But threatened by whom? In the novel, the Ranna dam scheme is promoted as vigorously by the Jangga entrepreneur Les Marra as by his whitefella colleagues and backers. Details, examples again. If Stone Country is a political novel, its politics are inscribed in the particulars, in the lives and actions of its protagonists. Stone Country also has an Odyssean aspect: for Bo, Annabelle and for Miller himself, it is a return journey — and we know how different, even unsettling familiar things can be when we meet them again with fresh eyes.
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Annabelle, raw, and in retreat from a failed marriage to a Melbourne English scholar, is rediscovering her country, but she is also learning that her analytical habits, her Western yen to seek explanations for everything, will not serve her new circumstances. Nor will they help her fathom what is happening to her, or understand the man with whom she is falling in love, a man who is articulate yet who rations speech, and who has been taught by his magisterial grandmother to leave some mysteries intact. Miller writes women with uncanny insight.
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Detail again. He must watch. With Bo and Dougald Gnapun , he writes out of long experience and a personal understanding of solitariness.