I think while Australian writing is pretty vibrant, and Australians are keen readers, I think for instance — I think per capita we read more than the Brits and possibly more than the Americans.1 And the print runs of our — for a novel here are equivalent to or sometimes larger than say a British print run, despite the fact that we have a fraction of their population. So, yeah, there’s a kind of — it’s young and it has, until recently, been fairly raw. I think in terms of tradition once upon a time in previous generations people looked to — if you were a writer or even a reader, you would be looking to London. That was where — that was a tradition that you bent to consciously or unconsciously. Because that was — as colonial and then a post colonial citizen, yeah, London was where it was at.
For people like myself, who were born in the 60s, we kind of inherited that sort of cultural change where Australia looked much more to the States than to the UK, where people had stopped thinking of England as home, for instance. And, when at the end of the — because of our experience of the Second World War, and the war in the Pacific, and Australia facing an invasion by the Japanese, it was — Australia was abandoned by Britain, and to a certain extent rescued by the States, once the Americans came into the war in the Pacific.2 We actually had a new ally, and it changed politics, and its geo politics, and it changed the internal culture of Australia. But yeah, so I think — but for me and for my generation, there was much more — our literary influences, our literary tradition was a kind of a hybridized thing with — because you’re on an island in the wrong hemisphere half a world away from where everything is supposed to be where the action is supposed to be.
If you are an ultra provincialist, as we were, and I probably still am, any ultra provincial just takes note of everything. You watch what’s going on in all the centers of power, and like any peasant you keep an eye — a cunning eye on what the quality you’re doing. Servants always have that sort of cunning observation of their betters. So, by the time I was becoming a young reader, I was absorbing stuff that was coming from UK and Europe and the States. And the stuff that chimed for me, the stuff that rang all my bells was almost always the stuff coming out of North America, and in particular those writers who were writing from outside of the great metropolitan centers. I mean I was reading everybody, but the stuff that really affected me and felt as though was shining a light in my path was stuff that was coming from either the Midwest or the South or the small town stuff.