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Loose, a Wild History


This is an excerpt from Alex Miller’s launch speech for the novel, Loose, a Wild History:

While I was reading LOOSE there were times when it reminded me of the American writer Theodore Dreiser’s very loose history of himself, DAWN.  Moments when LOOSE had that same eager tone of searching, searching, searching, to connect the inner life to the realities of the outer life, as if membranes of purpose and meaning might exist for both in the culture which, if he rejected sufficient of the commonplace, might eventually make their appearance to him.  But no Australian book came to my mind.  LOOSE talks tough.  It is not written in the diplomatic language of Australia/China cultural friendship societies.  LOOSE is the underbelly, the private interior voice of paranoia and mistrust, ambivalence and misunderstanding, the voice of just how difficult it really is to speak meaningfully of Australia/China cultural exchange at the level of the life of one individual whose history stands, painfully and problematically, across both cultures.  “I am still young,”  the author laments on page169, “ but absolutely useless in this society that has trashed me through conspiracy.”  Strong words.  LOOSE asks how is it possible to belong in both cultures.  In the process of doing this it challenges our most dearly held beliefs and hopes of cultural influence and exchange with China.   LOOSE questions the very basis of Australia’s place in Asia.  It derides the hypocrisy of diplomatic speak, and it does it often with brilliant humor and even more often with vicious satire.  LOOSE does something else that is just as important as this, and perhaps even more challenging for Australian writers (and I am one of that peculiar breed).  I’ll get to this other thing in a minute.

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