By Alex Miller
The recent novel from Australia's hugely acclaimed literary treasure is a very robust exploration of tragedy, betrayal, the real nature of friendship and the wonderful thing about lasting love.
'Me and Ben were pals on the grounds that we used to be boys and if it come to it I knew i might need to be on his side.'
Bobby Blue is stuck among loyalty to his purely good friend, Ben Tobin, and his boss, Daniel Collins, the recent Constable at Mount Hay. 'Ben used to be now not a massive guy yet he used to be powerful and quickly as a snake. He had his personal breed of pony that was once similar to him, stocky and trustworthy on their feet.' Bobby knows the folks and the methods of Mount Hay; Collins reports the rustic as an archaeologist may possibly, bringing his coastal values to the hinterland. Bobby says, 'I don't imagine Daniel could have understood Ben in 1000000 years.' more and more bewildered and goaded to motion by means of his spouse, Constable Collins takes up his shotgun and his Webley pistol to accommodate Ben. Bobby's love for Collins' wilful younger daughter Irie is uncovered, resulting in tragic effects for them all.
Miller's beautiful depictions of the rustic of the Queensland highlands shape the historical past of this easily advised yet deeply major novel of friendship, love, loyalty and the tragic results of bewilderment and distrust. Coal Creek is a superbly enjoyable novel with a satisfying answer. It contains all of the knowledge and emotional intensity we've come to count on from Miller's richly evocative novels.
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Arendt threaded the twin strands of Nazism and Stalinism into her highly original analysis of totalitarianism, but she was not alone in highlighting the moral and political signiﬁcance of what she saw as an entirely new force that had broken into – and fractured – human history: as early as 1940, Arthur Koestler had exposed the terror of the Stalinist purges in his novel Darkness at Noon; Albert Camus’ 1947 allegory, La Peste, had also shown the precariousness of human existence in the face of Nazi occupation; and George Orwell, in 1949, had given expression to the vulnerability of human beings in the face of totalitarianism in his futuristic Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Its deﬁning purpose, as she saw it, is to eradicate totally any trace of human freedom. She grasped this crucial aspect of both Nazism and Stalinism, Friendship and Plurality 25 and her subsequent work – highly varied and wide-ranging though it is – can be seen as a working through of the implications of this ‘central intuition’. Arendt was not the ﬁrst to see the unholy alliance between Nazism and Stalinism. Karl Popper had arguably got there before her in his 1945 Open Society and its Enemies, but Popper had generalised the historic conjuncture of these two regimes in terms of an ideological confrontation between fascism and Marxism.
Susan Neiman (2002, 302), in her powerful study of evil in modern thought, has argued that Arendt’s reference to banality was ironic: ‘[C]alling evil banal is a piece of moral rhetoric, a way of defusing the power that makes forbidden fruit attractive . . The ironic tone she took toward Eichmann was entirely calculated . . To call evil banal is to call it boring. ’ What Arendt was struggling with was not only the sense that Eichmann was ‘normal’ according to his own distorted world view, but that his ‘normality’ carried with it no awareness whatsoever of the criminal – and amoral – nature of his acts.
Coal Creek by Alex Miller