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Griffith REVIEW 21: Hidden Queensland (Griffith Review) Paperback – August 8, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


In recent times Queensland has developed a reputation as 'an engine of national growth and innovation.' This reputation was boosted by the 2007 election of Queenslander Kevin Rudd as prime minister. In this edition of Griffith REVIEW, a range of contributors explore the evolution of the Australian state once best known 'for its extremes of weather and politics.' Much emphasis is given to Queensland's history of radical political activism. Various contributors discuss the campaigns against the Vietnam War and (some time later) Joh Bjelke-Petersen's conservative government. However, there are also descriptions of this state's artistic and cultural achievements, an account of an adolescent girl's ill-fated sexual dalliances with an older married couple, and a photographic essay on the lives of mentally ill Queensland residents.

I found Edwina Shaw's short story of the 'corrupt' Queensland police force during the 1980s to be the strongest contribution to Hidden Queensland. Shaw creates a vision of a police state that is both nightmarish and totally believable. I was deeply moved by Kristina Olsson's memoir piece entitle A War, An Attic, A Gun, in which Olsson reflects on the heartache her mother faced when her son (Olsson's brother) went missing around the time of Australia's participation in Vietnam. As Olsson observes, her brother was 'of conscriptable age' and their mother 'must have felt the terrible irony of losing him not once but twice. The possibility.'

As a whole, Hidden Queensland offers a fascinating insight into the darker and more complex side of the so-called 'Sunshine State.' --Australian Book Review

Part of what makes it difficult to peg Queensland is that this vastness isn't easily summarised. There are Queenslands, and for the most part Hidden Queensland does well in pointing this out.

These authors write their histories and recollections crackingly well. It s pleasing to see so many pieces in Hidden Queensland devoted to the State s far-flung regions and provincial cities. I don t believe that I've seen a better collection of pieces about regional Queensland. Hidden Queensland does manage to nuance the reader s idea of the State. It s timely, because not only are our favourite sons and daughters taking the reins of the country, but demographic changes are making the State more prominent in the nation's life. It's recommended reading. ----Jason Wilson, NewMatilda.com

Hidden Queensland uncovers many more hiding places than the Fitzgerald inquiry. Reading this book of essays, poems, photos, stories and memoir is like exploring an old house with attics and cellars, secret passages, locked doors and walled gardens. You can happily lose yourself here, discovering surprising and hidden things about the curious state of Queensland. This is a book you can explore for weeks, feeling wonder at every page. ----Sandra Hogan, M/C Reviews


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