Tag Archives: Ross Gibson

David Malouf’s Remembering Babylon and the Book Group

David Malouf, Remembering Babylon (©1993, Vintage 1994)

009930242X Remembering Babylon is an A-Stranger-Comes-to-Town story. The Stranger is Gemmy, who was thrown overboard as a boy from a ship somewhere off the Queensland coast in the first half of the 19th century. Already not quite the full quid after an impoverished early childhood in London, and traumatised further by his near death by drowning, he was taken in by a group of Aboriginal people. The Town is a tiny community of white settlers who arrive in the area some years later. As Gemmy observes them, his half-remembered previous life stirs in memory, and on encountering a group of children he stammers words David Malouf has appropriated from the historical Gemmy Morrell (or Morril), ‘Do not shoot. I am a B-b-british object!’

Although we have some access to Gemmy’s inner life, the book is mainly about the small settler community, about their range of responses to this part white, part Aboriginal man, and more broadly about the process of British settlers accommodating to the new Australian reality. Malouf would never put it this crudely, but it’s as if Gemmy, for all his addledness, has adapted to the new world more fully than any of them, so his presence becomes a catalyst for their differences and tensions to be exposed.

In Gemmy’s early days in the settlement, for example, a number of the men try to extract information from him about ‘the blacks’, but he resists:

And in fact a good deal of what they were after he could not have told, even if he had wanted to, for the simple reason that there were no words for it in their tongue; yet when, as sometimes happened, he fell back on the native word, the only one that could express it, their eyes went hard, as if the mere existence of a language they did not know was a provocation, a way of making them helpless. He did not intend it that way, but he too saw that it might be true. There was no way of existing in this land, or of making your way through it, unless you took into yourself, discovered on your breath, the sounds that linked up all the various parts of it and made it one.

Yet while this theme is being explored, the narrative adopts one character’s point of view after another – two of the three children who first meet Gemmy, their parents, the young school teacher, the minister – and each time on feels one is meeting a real person, someone Malouf knows well, perhaps even someone he in some way is or has been.

I read Remembering Babylon as part of a body of work by non-Indigenous writers, including Inga Clendinnen’s Dancing with Strangers (2005), Ross Gibson’s 26 Views of the Starburst World (2012) and David Brooks’ essay ‘Origins of Modernism in the Great Western Desert‘ (2008), which explore ways the encounter between these vastly different cultures plays out in non-Indigenous minds. It’s not really a historical novel: I doubt if any part of the Queensland coast was settled as peacefully as this fictional one apparently was, or if there would have been so little contact (ie, none apart from Gemmy) with the local Aboriginal people if it had. It’s surely symbolic rather than historical that an aristocratic woman lives in a beautiful Queenslander just a little way off in the bush from the rudimentary dwellings of the other settlers.

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to read this book, but it’s interesting to see that some of the themes of Malouf’s recent poetry – particularly the idea of humans as creating a planet-wide garden – were being developed 20 years ago.

The group is meeting tonight. I can’t go because there are things happening in my family that have priority. It’s a pity, because there’s a lot to discuss.

Southerly 72/2: True Crime

Melissa Jane Hardie (guest editor), David Brooks and Elizabeth McMahon (editors), Southerly Vol 72 No 2 2012: True Crime – Every Contact Leaves a Trace

Southerly 72-2 cover_Layout 1

The Southerly of my youth, whatever its contents, always had the same staid, non-committal design: a single colour cover with a small blowing-wind logo the only decoration. (For non-NSW readers, the southerly is a cool and often rain-bearing wind from the south-east, famously welcome for its sudden arrival on stinking hot summer days.) Those days are long past, though the little wind is still there above the title. This issue’s cover, featuring an enigmatic photo from the NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, is a perfect teaser for an issue built around true crime stories, more than one of them drawing on that same archive.

The archive, consisting of 130 000 photographs taken in the first half of last century, found without any accompanying documentation and now held at the Justice and Police Museum in Sydney,  is an Aladdin’s cave for researchers into Sydney’s criminal history. Peter Doyle’s ‘Detective writing: mapping the Sydney pre-War underworld’ is a fascinating dip into it, complemented with an account of a couple of relatively long-lived publications, which he describes as ‘kind of ‘ trade papers for cops, full of vivid and sometimes lurid portraits and narratives from the criminal scene. In Southerly‘s online section, The Long Paddock, Ross Gibson’s ‘Collision Course‘ plays with the narrative possibilities of a selection of images – though none of them are as queerly suggestive as the one on the cover – and refers the reader to his ongoing project with Kate Richards, Life After Wartime. Marise Williams, in ‘Women’s Work’, explores the same milieu, though without drawing on that archive: the women of her title are Kate Leigh and Tilley Devine,who ran organised crime networks in Darlinghurst in the 1920s and 1930s. It’s not just the covers that have come a long way since the staid 1960s.

My favourite single prose piece in this issue is Cassandra Atherton’s ‘Raining Blood and Money’. Classified as fiction, it’s a graphic imagining of New York’s terrible 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire, in which 146 people, most of them women workers, died in 18 minutes. The fire was hugely significant in the history of women and labour in the USA, and in the century since it happened it has given rise to innumerable songs, stories, monographs, rallies, and organising activities, as the links on its Wikipedia page demonstrate. Some stories need to be told and retold, and Atherton’s telling feels as fresh and visceral as if it happened yesterday.

Of course, Southerly is still a scholarly journal, so: there’s a theoretical consideration of sensationalist 19th century crime writing; the formidable thinking of Deleuze and Guattari is brought to bear on Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie letter; a Black Saturday arsonist is considered in the light of the different understandings of the notion of  ‘abjection’ in the writings of Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler; Schapelle Corby is the subject of abstruse reflections that include such highly technical language as: ‘To be where you are … requires a sense of affective difference, understood as either the Spinozan–Deleuzian mapping of co-ordinates of intensities or as the forms of projective identification required in nominating and refining the arbitrary and violent constitution of the nation-state.’ Lit crit has moved on since my day.

There’s forty pages of reviews, including Kate Middleton in elegiac mode about the late Peter Steele’s Braiding the Voices, and a swag of poetry, of which Adam Aitken’s ‘The plein-air effect (after John Clare)’, Michael Farrell’s ‘Disapproval’ and Hazel Smith’s ‘Experimentalism’ stand out for me.

A dip into the Long Paddock  came up with not only Ross Gibson’s piece, but also Melissa Jane Hardie’s review of A Tragedy in Two Acts: Marcus Einfeld & Teresa Brennan by Fiona Harari. I met Teresa Brennan once, and am glad to see that this book makes more of her than a name in a false alibi: it doesn’t mention that she was at one time a writer for Barry Humphries/Edna Everage.

End of year lists 2012

As if it isn’t enough to be shopping and wrapping and cooking and unwrapping and eating and searching for lost dogs and blocking our ears to keep out the piped carols, it’s the season for drawing up Best-Of lists.

The Art Student’s best five movies (with links to the movies’ IMDb pages):

A Separation (Asghar Farhadi 2011): ‘Definitely the best movie this year. We got to see how complex it all is for secular Muslims in Iran.’

Lore (Cate Shortland 2012): ‘Up there with A Separation. You don’t believe you can watch yet another film about Jews and Nazis, yet here it was, original and fresh. I hope it wins an Oscar. I liked Somersault too.’

The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar 2011): ‘Creepy,’ she said, ‘but good.’

This Must Be the Place (Paolo Sorrentino 2011): ‘I loved the great humour, the art, the spectacular musical event.”

The Sessions (Ben Lewin 2012): ‘I liked having nudity and sex without it being voyeuristic.’

My best five movies, chosen fairly arbitrarily (with arbitrary reason given) from a short list of 19 that included all five of the Art Student’s picks:

Liberal Arts (Josh Radnor 2012) features a main character who walks around the city reading. I identified. It also reminded me of the pleasures of Eric Rohmer movies.

Sing Me the Songs that Say I Love You: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle (Lian Lunson 2012) pips The Sapphires (Wayne Blair 2012) at the post for my musical of the year. It’s a concert movie that invites us into extraordinary intimacy with a brilliantly musical family. Martha Wainwright sings ‘First Born’, which her mother wrote for her brother, and which we played a lot when our firstborn son was being ‘the first to crawl’.

Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki 2011) made me feel irrationally pleased with myself or recognizing the oddly deadpan directorial style from Drifting Clouds, which I saw and loved decades ago.

The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius 2011) was a moderately enjoyable film until the final moment, which resolved a plot point I had been half-awarely worrying over, and vastly expanded the movie’s meaning.

Weekend (Andrew Haigh 2011): In spite of the phenomenal consumption of alcohol and other drugs, which would normally be enough to put me right off, I loved the unsentimental, unprurient portrayal of two characters who are completely taken with each other, including sexually.

The worst movie: We both picked Sophie Lellouche’s bland, self-indulgent Paris–Manhattan. But don’t take this as a solid judgement on the film as it might have miraculously picked up after the first hour, which is all we could bear. If we had to name a movie we stayed the course for, the Art Student would pick Skyfall, which she just plain hated, and I might have to pick Bernie, because Jack Black’s creepiness and the creepiness of the subject matter were from different universes.

The Art Student’s best books (she wouldn’t be limited to five), listed here in no particular order, with links to my blog entries or the book’s LibraryThing page:

1bmMartin Gayford, A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney (2011): ‘Full of surprises and delights, about the way an artist sees the world.’

090787181XIrfan Orga, Portrait of a Turkish Family (©1950, Eland & Galeri Kayseri 2004): ‘Compellingly tells of the transition from a feudal society to modernity as a result of war. Also wonderful was the insider child’s view of life under the veil.’

20120704-175516.jpgHilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies (2012): ‘I’m glad it won the Booker. I’m completely hooked on the story, and looking forward to the third book, although having fallen in love with Cromwell I’m not looking forward to his death.’

1920898581Heather Goodall, From Invasion to Embassy (1996): ‘A must-read for all Australians, especially those who think the dispossession of Aboriginal people all happened in the distant past.’

1ccStephen Gilchrist, editor, Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art (2012): ‘I’m only half way through this but it’s a great, accessible introduction to the complexity of Australian Indigenous art.’

Edwina Shaw, Thrill Seekers (2012): ‘I read this in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down even though a lot was uncomfortable.’

0007149530Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder (2008): ‘Fascinating portraits of scientists in the late 18th century, when science and romanticism were closely joined. Particularly good on Banks and the Herschels.’

0670033804Sebastian Barry, The Long Way Home (2005) and On Canaan’s Side (2011): ‘Two completely absorbing novels. The first is probably the best novel of the First World War I’ve read, and the second extends the story to Irish immigration to the USA, and the past catching up with you, written convincingly in the voice of an 80 year old woman.’

My best books, which I’ve kept down to just five by declaring the AS’s list off limits:

20120224-180529Fàbio Moon & Gabriel Bà, Daytripper (2011): A gem of a comic book by twin brothers from Brazil, this is a string of connected short stories that celebrates a human life as a miracle of survival.

Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies (2008): A story of colonial India that manages to be a gripping romance at the same time as blasting any romantic nostalgia for the Raj to oblivion.

Yalata and Oak Valley Communities with Christobel Mattingley, Maralinga, the Anangu Story (2009): it was a toss-up between this and Tohby Riddle’s miraculous Unforgotten for my picture book of the year. This is a different kind of miracle from Tohby’s – it opens a space for a multitude of voices to speak about the lethal indifference to Indigenous Australians on the part of he British atomic test at Maralinga, and about the resilience of the Anangu people.

Ross Gibson, Seven Versions of an Australian Badland (2002): I choose this over Gibson’s brilliant 26 Views of the Starburst World, which was published this year, because the earlier book made me understand something of the colonisation of my North Queensland home that I had read about previously but managed not to grasp.

Jennifer Maiden, Liquid Nitrogen (2012): I read quite a bit of poetry this year. Possibly the major revelation was Byron’s Don Juan, but I haven’t finished reading that, and I might have chosen Liquid Nitrogen anyway, as I feel that Jennifer Maiden’s stories, meditations and dialogues help me to live in the modern world.

A note on the gender balance front: I would have thought my reading was fairly every spread between male and female writers, but numbers don’t cater to wishful thinking. According to my blog statistics, I read 34 books by men and 22 by women.

Ross Gibson’s 26 Views and my 14 lines (Sonnet #9)

Ross Gibson, 26 Views of the Starburst World (UWAP 2012)

My formal education left me with a lingering sense that Australian history was boring: a drab procession of convicts, explorers, squatters, gold miners, politicians arguing about free trade and train gauges, soldiers, shearers, horsemen – and somewhere on the sidelines an undifferentiated, disappearing mass labelled ‘Aborigines’.

I began to see things differently in the theatre in the early 70s, with the irreverence and vigour of plays like The Legend of King O’Malley (Ellis and Boddy 1970), The Duke of Edinburgh Assassinated (Ellis and Hall 1972) and Flash Jim Vaux (Blair, Clark and Colman 1972), and exhumed splendours like Edward Geoghegan’s The Currency Lass (from the 1840s, published by Currency Press in 1976) and Katharine Susannah Prichard’s Brumby Innes (written 1927, first professional production at the Pram Factory in 1972). Skipping forward a couple of decades, Inga Clendinnen’s brilliant Dancing with Strangers (the link is to Will Owen’s review), by taking a probing scalpel to journal accounts of the first years of the settlement at Port Jackson, made me realise what an extraordinary moment that was, whose meaning is still a long way from being fully understood.

Ross Gibson’s 26 Views of the Starburst World is even more of a revelation, and has an even tighter focus than Dancing with Strangers. It looks at two notebooks, ninety pages in all, in which William Dawes recorded his notes on the ‘language of N. S. Wales, in the neighbourhood of Sydney (Native and English)’ in the late 18th century.

William Dawes was a marine lieutenant and astronomer who lived in Sydney from 1788 to 1791, years in which the world of the Eora changed catastrophically and in which that of the British invader–settlers likewise was transformed. These two notebooks were rediscovered in London in 1972. In compiling them, Dawes drew on his relationships with a small group of Eora, including most memorably a young woman named Patyegarang, who visited him at his tiny observatory on the edge of the settlement. They record snippets of conversation, and give sometimes enigmatic glimpses of tiny interactions.

Gibson describes the notebooks as ‘fragmented, unfinished, heuristic’, with ‘a prismatic quality’. And his book might be described in similar terms: it quotes, questions, analyses, peers closely at faint marks, speculates, extrapolates. It comes at the notebooks from, well, at least 26 angles: there’s biography, linguistics , psychology, anthropology, the history of colonisation, the history of science (1788 was a time of a high romantic approach to scientific enquiry in England), communication theory, the politics of Rugby League in 21st century Sydney. Apart from Dawes’ contemporaries Watkin Tench, David Collins and Arthur Phillip, it quotes Wordsworth, Emerson, Walden, Mallarmé, James Agee, Kenneth Slessor, the 2oth century haiku master Seichi, Robert Gray, Barry Hill – all of them pertinently … And sometimes it lets the notebooks speak for themselves. Gibson describes his approach as ’roundabout, relational, a tad restless and unruly’, and in a slightly less alliterative moment as ‘a little like history, a little like poetry, a little maddeningly like a séance’.

Possibly my favourite moment in the book is the facsimile of page 37 of Notebook A, on which there are just four words:

Yánga
________Present
––––________I
___________thou

Gibson gives us a caption – and bear in mind that everywhere else he refrains from speculation about any sexual dimension to the relationship between Dawes and Patyegarang:

‘Yanga’ – a verb that Dawes records but does not translate. Other colonial word lists, not compiled by Dawes, suggest ‘yanga’ means ‘to copulate’.

The School of Oriental and African Studies (London) has put the complete notebooks are online, with transcriptions of their contents, at http://www.williamdawes.org/.

But I’m falling behind on my quota of November sonnets, so here goes:

Sonnet 9: William Dawes and Patyegarang
He lived apart to study stars
and drew dark students to his table –
students and ambassadors
who drank his tea so he was able
to write their words down, turn their breath
to marks on paper. War and death
were soon to dominate this story
but then there was a kind of glory:
‘Paouwagadyımíŋa,’
she said, ‘You shade me from the sun.’
She said, ‘We’re angry, fear the gun –
Gulara, tyérun gu̇nın.’
The future loomed with genocide:
these marks show some opposed that tide.

Andy Kissane and the Swarm

Andy Kissane, The Swarm (Puncher and Wattmann 2012)

20121003-175856.jpg I read this collection of Andy Kissane’s short stories a month or so ago, just after reading some Chekhov stories for the first time. (The reason for the delay in posting is that – a rare event for me – I received an advance copy from the publisher, and the book isn’t being launched until Sunday.) The stories in The Swarm made me realise, with some embarrassment, that I had read Chekhov as if I was visiting a museum: it was interesting, instructive, challenging, but all at arm’s length, preserved, from another time and place. Andy Kissane’s stories are as alive and immediate as neighbourhood gossip.

Partly that’s because these stories, all except two, are set in the present. And partly because of the book’s strong sense of place. Most of the action takes place in an inner city landscape as distinctive as Chekhov’s rural villages, and the characters – musicians, mostly unsuccessful actors, a twenty-something artist, a young mother screwing up her courage to invite her recently widowed father to move in – are as much part of that landscape as Chekhov’s peasants, idlers and provincial bourgeoisie are of theirs. I imagine the sense of the local in these stories would appeal to any reader, including one for whom the Marlborough or St Vincent’s are no more than names, but it’s especially sweet to me because by and large, it’s my local.

[About 200 words about being a North Queenslander deleted here.]

A sense of place doesn’t make a good story, of course. And there is a lot more than that to enjoy here. Again and again a commonplace experience is seen freshly, charged with moral or emotional meaning the way commonplace things often are. A young man stands at a condom vending machine in a pub toilet. A couple spend an evening playing Monopoly when the TV set has died. An old man cleans up his daughter’s yard. A musician watches his cello being played badly by a prospective buyer. A man (who could have come from the pages of On Western Sydney) boasts of car-related derring-do. Looking at that fairly random list of closely observed, mostly domestic events, I realise that the common subject of the stories is love: romantic love, parental love, love betrayed, love unfulfilled, love surprisingly revived or belatedly recognised. Nothing flashy, just a deepening sense of what it means to be human and in connection.

The historical stories – ‘A Bright Blue Future’ and ‘A Mirror to the World’, about asbestos mining at Wittenoom and racist frontier violence respectively – mostly keep to a similar domestic perspective. They too can be read as about love – one man makes disastrous moral compromises out of concern for his family’s short-term wellbeing; tentative overtures between Aboriginal Australians and settlers end in disaster.

‘A Mirror to the World’ is the longest and most ambitious story in the collection. It is based on an incident that happened in Rockhampton in the 1870s – an incident, interestingly, that’s interpreted quite differently in Ross Gibson’s Seven Versions of an Australian Badland. At least, one of the story’s two narratives is based on that incident. The other belongs to the author–academic who is writing that historical narrative, in between running a creative writing course where he lectures on multiple narratives, mise-en-abîme and other devices that are used in the story itself. So, yes, unlike the other ten stories it draws attention to itself as an artefact. It does this in other ways as well. There are explicit references to at least two other stories in the collection: a character from one makes an offstage appearance, and a situation from another is echoed in detail. It’s cleverly done, and there’s a final twist that crowns the cleverness, but it serves a serious purpose. As the story turns back on itself, it opens the way for questions about what it means for a white Australian to tackle the appalling injustices of our colonial past, about the question of moral judgement, the difficulty of imagining the inner world of the early settlers without either surrendering or imposing a modern perspective. The ending is both a technical delight and a moral/political challenge. It’s a story I’d love to discuss – but not here, not to spoil it for people who haven’t read it.

Full disclosure: As well as receiving a free book, I have a degree of commitment to Andy Kissane’s work, since the script for the short film currently known as Scar!, which regular visitors here will know I co-wrote, was inspired by his poem ‘The Station Owner’s Daughter, Narrandera’.

Ross Gibson’s Seven Versions

Ross Gibson, Seven Versions of an Australian Badland (UQP 2002)

I finished reading this book a while ago but it’s taken me until now to write about because I took it very personally.

It’s a meditation on the so-called horror stretch, country north of Rockhampton in central Queensland that has a reputation as the setting for terrible events. Starting with a number of roadside murders in the second half of last century that made headlines all over Australia, Gibson explores the cultural factors, the ‘structure of feeling’, underlying the general fascination with those crimes. A ‘badland’ such as this, he says, is a way of localising and mythologising issues that are unresolved in the society in general. This description may lead you to expect something that reads like a bad translation from the French, with lots of stuff being inscribed on the landscape, and references to impenetrable theory. But no, it’s an engaging read, and becomes positively compelling as it moves back in time to the terrible first contact between Aboriginal people and settlers, forward again to the ordeals of Melanesian indentured workers in the sugar paddocks, and forward yet again to the White Australia Policy’s denial of the extraordinary diversity of the region.

‘Sooner or later,’ Gibson writes, ‘any society that would like to know itself as “post-colonial” must confront an inevitable question: how to live with collective memories of theft and murder. Sooner or later, therefore, acknowledgement and grieving must commence before healing can ensue.’ This must also be true of the individuals who are part of that society, and my sense is that for all the impressive scholarship and historical research that went into it, this project is at heart personal, a way of making personal acknowledgement and beginning the necessary grieving. At least, coming though I do from Innisfail, hundreds of miles north of the horror strip (and yes, I knew of it by that name in my childhood), that’s how I read it.

Things may have changed, but when I was at school, history happened mostly in England (and elsewhere in Europe for Catholic Church history), and what we were taught of Australian history happened in Sydney or Melbourne, or occasionally the other capital cities. The only North Queensland figures I remember being mentioned – and that was at home rather than school – were the explorer Edmund Kennedy, speared by natives in 1848, and his faithful Aboriginal companion Jackey Jackey (whose real name, Galmahra, was never alluded to). The specific history of the arrival of non-Aboriginal settlers in the north was never even hinted at. As in the ‘horror stretch’, I’ve learned, this history involved mass murder by Native Police under white officers. Ross Gibson brings that history home, and a has a good deal to say about our collective silence about it. Even at the time of widespread killing of Aboriginal people in the mid 19th century, he says, the officers

jinked a two-step of violent action and circumspect remembrance. They wrapped their deeds in dissembling verbiage and eventually they became their own twisted idioms, developing a ‘pathological’ disconnection between doing and declaring, a disconnection which gave them no way to see the world clearly.

That ‘circumspect remembrance’ is something that has lived on in the north ever since, as ‘white people simultaneously knew and refused to know the violence behind their everyday lives’.

Now here’s why I took this all personally: in an entry in this blog a few years back I said I didn’t know much about first contact between the Mamu people and the first settlers of the Innisfail region, and I gave a link to Innisfail’s web site. When I clicked on that link I found this:

The first incursion came in 1872. Survivors of the shipwreck “Maria” arrived on the coast near the Johnstone River. Some of the Indigenous people helped; others they opposed. Sub-Inspector Robert Johnstone’s search party came to rescue survivors and punish Aboriginal people who had abused them, and ventured up river from what are now Flying Fish and Coquette Points. Johnstone wrote glowing reports of the area, and with vigilante Native Troopers attacked the Mamu people with rifle fire as he escorted the explorer Dalrymple, charting the watercourse and having it named after himself …

When European cedar cutters and Chinese gold seekers arrived later in the 1870s and early in the 1880s, the Mamu fought them and inflicted serious casualties. Again the Europeans sent in the Native Police. Superior firepower broke up the Indigenous communities and dispersed or integrated the remaining original landowners.

The evidence is that I had read that and could still say I didn’t know what happened, yet its meaning couldn’t be clearer. Words like ‘punish’ and ‘dispersed’ are transparent euphemisms: the high moral ground assumed by one and the almost kindly feel of the other could mislead only the ignorant or, it pains me to say, allow the wilfully obtuse to ward off the obvious. It’s impossible to stay obtuse after reading this book. And a further confession: I must have blithely assumed that if Native Troopers and Native Police were involved things couldn’t have been too bad. Gibson puts that assumption to rest with his account of the way armed young Aboriginal men, uprooted from their own communities and freed of cultural restraints, were directed to kill and maraud. He lays bare the mechanism by which Indigenous people, under tight white control, performed the genocidal work of dispossession, leaving the settlers – good Catholics in the case of the first farmers of the Innisfail Estate – to move in with an illusion of clean hands, deploring the violence of the unruly ones who had made their settlement possible.

Gibson’s discussion of the Melanesians who worked on the sugar farms is also compelling. I recommend the whole book.