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Tag Archives: non fiction

Jem Star Rating:

I put off reading this forever because

  • 1) my brain is too small/lazy for non fiction and
  • 2)I know it was going to be terribly depressing, which it was.

The Tall Man is an account of the court case against a police officer following an Aborignal man’s death whilst in police custody in 2004.

As a Boston to Sydney transplant I am pretty much entirely ignorant of any of the details of  modern societal problems as they relate to Aboriginal people,  except to say that there seems to be a vaguely expressed sentiment that there certainly are some.

To be dead honest, the only time I cross paths with Aboriginal Australia is via street performers in Circular Quay, art galleries/museums, and the occasional intolerant comment about Aboriginal people and alcholoism /homelessness/ etc.

It just doesn’t come up all that often. And my feeling is that were I to raise it, I would find myself arguing with someone who would eventually say, “What do you know? You know nothing about this.” Which is, well,  true.

I mean, after five years of studying urban social problems and writing endless papers on concepts of race in college, I can BARELY speak about American racism with any sense of authority. So it seems kind of presumptuous to articulate my views within a culture I’ve only skimmed the surface of.

But, shit. Being ill-informed has never hindered my forming strong opinions before.

The main reason I think this book is incredible is the author’s storytelling –  she stays impressively detached as she lays out the events that make up the story. I had to keep checking the cover because I kept picturing the author as a middle-aged man. She breaks down the points of view of each group involved in the story, and you can’t help but see the validity in each sides’ claim of injustice. I think, as a human, you want very straightforward right and wrongs, but her writing is a tribute to the complexity of the issues.

Also, the details of life on Palm Island are pretty haunting. For someone curious about the day-to-day realities of life for Palm Island aboriginals, this painted a picture that was simultaneously grim and vivid.

I didn’t feel better after reading it, but I felt better for having read it, if that makes sense.


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