Determining the literary vitality of a country like Australia is a difficult task. This difficulty, it seems to me, is closely linked to the impossibility of defining ‘Australian Culture’, or ‘Australian Values’. Inevitably such discussions get bogged down in witless abstractions like mateship, and from there it’s not a long time before meat pies, Steve Irwin, Crocodile Dundee and beer work their way into the conversation. We’re a nation on the make, and we still don’t know quite what we’re making.
In 2002, Clive James delivered the inaugural David Scott Mitchell Memorial Lecture. The lecture is well worth reading, and well worth listening to, as are nearly all the things that James has written and said in his long and bewilderingly varied career. Clive James is important to my point. James is the Kid from Kogarah – he’s one of ours: an Australian product. Continue reading