The Australian Book Review has just published its annual end-of-the-year Best of the Year list, and even though the ABR failed to offer any coverage of Buried Country – despite the fact that it is this country’s long-standing self-styled trade journal of record (which has actually never, across four decades, ever reviewed a single one of my nine books! I can only presume because I'm way too two-fistedly lowbrow for its 'self-conscious knowledge class' sensibilities) – Nicolas Rothwell, god bless him, has nominated Buried Country and Buried Country alone as his uncontested Book of the Year, with the following words that just leave me a bit jibbering:
It is a sign of these murky times for books and the written word that my book of the year is a work of loving enthusiasm and selfless devotion, rather than a knowing, self-conscious product by some member of the knowledge class. Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music, by Clinton Walker (Verse Chorus Press) is a re-edition of a masterwork first published fifteen years ago, but expanded and reconceived so thoroughly as to be something new: an account of vernacular Aboriginal creativity in mid-century Australia, the influences it soaked up and the impact it made – a back channel history worth more than a thousand academic sociologies. Roger Knox, Bobby McLeod, Vic Simms: these are the heroes of its pages: 'Where the crow flies backwards' is its central song, an anthem that defines both an era and a state of mind. What more can a book do than bring you back the past and make it real – especially a past you never knew?