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Re-Thinking Country Towns

Driscoll, C, Darian-Smith, Kate ORCID: 0000-0001-7773-1205 and Nichols, D 2017 , 'Re-Thinking Country Towns', in Driscoll and C and Darian-Smith and K and Nichols and D (eds.), Cultural Sustainability in Rural Communities: Re-Thinking Country Towns , Routledge, United Kingdom, pp. 1-14.

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The Dry is one of Australia’s fiction publishing success stories of 2016. 1 Its author, Jane Harper, set her debut crime novel in an imaginary town five hours’ drive from Melbourne. The book’s key premise is familiar in Australian fiction: a protagonist who has ‘escaped’ the clutches of a country community yet is haunted by its secrets. Harper’s central character, Aaron Falk, left the town of Kiewarra under a cloud, and on his return two decades later he is entangled in the apparent murder-suicide of a farmer facing bankruptcy. Throughout The Dry , small-town life is presented as complex, difficult and, during a time of drought when Kiewarra’s ‘huge river’ is ‘nothing more than a dusty scar . . . a cracked patchwork of rocks and crabgrass’, almost unliveable. 2 Yet even in good times, Falk reflects that country life has a ‘crushing vastness . . . enough to drown in’. 3 There are ‘too many people who know too much about each other’, and contrary to the conventional view of the generosity of country folk, ‘there’s not always a lot of help at hand’. 4 Ambivalence regarding country community aside, The Dry ’s plot conforms to established tropes representing the oppositional relationship between the Australian city and its non-metropolitan hinterland, as well as the specific place of the country town in Australian national identity and cultural production.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Driscoll, C and Darian-Smith, Kate and Nichols, D
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 selection and editorial matter, Catherine Driscoll, Kate Darian-Smith and David Nichols; individual chapters, the contributors

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