Peter Timms, In Search of Hobart (UNSW Press 2009)
I enjoyed Delia Falconer’s book on Sydney in the Cities series very much, so when this turned up for borrowing at our Book Club, I fell on it with cries of joy.
Alas, after a characteristically elegant foreword by Robert Dessaix, in which he ominously mentions that the author is his partner and describes the book as ‘a concatenation of views of Hobart’, my enthusiasm took a beating. By page 15 the concatenated voices are complaining about the traffic, and before any of the beauties of the city have been evoked we’re treated to argument about town planning and the puncturing of self-serving quotes from government officials such as emanates from local ginger groups in any modern city. A swipe at Kevin Rudd’s ‘working families’ mantra left me feeling not just that I was listening in on local fights, but that the fights were old.
On page 40, in a dip into colonial history, ‘Having staked their claim, the authorities in London promptly put the struggling settlement out of their minds,’ I decided to follow their example and put the book out of mine. It might improve – if you know for sure it does, you know where comment button is.