Salt: Selected Stories and Essays by Bruce Pascoe
From the author of the game-changing Dark Emu comes Salt, a selection of essays and stories spanning more than thirty years. A paradigm shift does not happen overnight, and Salt provides a wonderful expanse of thinking and storytelling, and of wrestling with history in ways that lead to momentous, revealing scholarship. Interweaving essays and stories from across many journals, lectures, story collections and other works, Salt lays before the reader the vastness and complexity of Bruce Pascoe’s thoughts and experiences of a continent grappling with itself.
In prose that is funny in one moment and devastating the next, Pascoe moves us from the wry humour of an expedition to look for a rare banksia that is too quickly achieved, leaving the party ‘faced with the prospect of returning before we’d even popped the plugs on our battered vacuum flasks’ to the realisation that he is standing in a long ago cultivated field of kangaroo grass ready to be harvested. It beautifully evokes the sudden drop into the deep sadness that follows the wonder of discovering a history of richness and fullness deliberately obscured.
The power of this collection does not reside exclusively in the big questions of colonialism and dispossession, in the amazing prospect of the Australian national psyche potentially grappling with a huge, complex and devastating history, it resides in the individual psyche of each Australian through time. The stories and essays of Salt succeed in doing what the mineral of its title is known for doing: this writing irritates and hurts, yet it preserves and makes possible a return to the meat of the matter of Australia.