The Stencil Man
"In the hot afternoons of an Australian summer, Martin Linke makes stencils for his children, writes in his journal, and dreams of freedom. 'I'm not at war,' he had protested when the internment order came. He left Germany 17 years ago. But it is wartime, and he is an alien.
"Martin waits. He keeps to himself. He is approached by camp factions, but he will not be drawn. If his next appeal is to succeed his record must be blameless. Soon he is an outcast among the internees.
"The Stencil Man is a novel of uneasy alliances, treachery, and flight across the disturbing landscape of Australia in wartime."
"This brief novel is an uncomfortable and challenging piece of fiction" - The Australian
"A spare and quietly suggestive novel about an ungracious world and ironies of displacement." - Helen Daniel, The Good Reading Guide
When Martin Paul Linke saw the black Austin slow down by the pine trees at the cemetery corner and turn into his driveway, he knew what it was about. He continued to grub and turn the soil with his hoe: let them come to him. He heard the car's doors open and close, the chain rattle on the gate, and their boots on the hard paths between his rows of tomato seedlings. It was the fourth of September, the end of a winter of scanty rains. He straightened and turned around. He had lived in Australia for seventeen years.
The first man, a stranger, nodded. He wore his overcoat unbuttoned and held his hat in one hand. The second man said, 'Hell, Martin.' Today he had dressed in his captain's uniform and a greatcoat. Martin knew him as Frank Lucas, the mayor, owner of Lucas's Emporium in the main street. 'Martin, this is Detective Sergeant Bryant of the New South Wales Police Force.'
Martin Linke was certain that a third man had been in the car, but he could not see him anywhere, and, to his mind, that was the start of the dirty work.
'Frank, what's up?' he said.
'I'm very sorry, Martin. I've got no choice. We've got an internment order for you.'
From the Imprint paperback edition, 1988.
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Last modified: November 7, 2001.