Monthly Archives: August 2004

[From August 2004] Vale Thea Astley

In tonight’s news, running a very poor third to Ian Thorpe’s brilliance in Greece and John Howard’s increasingly transparent duplicity (‘I won’t take a polygraph test because if people can’t tell I’m truthful by looking at me they’re not going to believe me just because a machine says I’m telling the truth’), we were told that Thea Astley died today.

I met her and heard her speak when I was an impressionable 21 year old. The one thing I remember well was an anecdote about Patrick White that she told with great pleasure, to an audience of young Marist Brothers, for the most part earnest seekers after knowledge and virtue. White had read her novel The Well Dressed Explorer, perhaps in manuscript, or at least very soon after publication, and commented: ‘Thea, if you’re going to write about a shit, make sure it’s a very big shit.’