"Robbing the first bank is like the silkiest good dream. Hovering above myself, watching me do it, hearing this half- stranger's sharp voice ring out. Me but not me inside, here and there but not entirely here or there. There I am pointing the bloody gun and giving the orders. Here I am looking into the worst fears realised in those clerkish eyes. There I aim - hello! - suddenly the man in charge of Death and Money.
"Our Sunshine is the tale of a man whose story outgrew his life. Robert Drewe, whose fiction is acclaimed for holding a mirror to contemporary suburban Australia, has now taken the country's greatest mythological character and created his own imaginary life for him. He presents an unsentimental, compassionate and sensual portrait of the boy and killer who became both the National Hero and the Devil Incarnate of the Antipodes.
"Succeeding in turning myth to funny, savage, commonplace and back again, Drewe portrays Ned Kelly and his adolescent gang both as young Horsemen of the Apocalypse - riding through Fire and Flood, Sex and Death - and as the psychologically displaced victims of the casually brutal human wilderness.
"Drewe not only gets inside the boy and man who thereafter embodied Australians' best and worst perceptions of themselves, but shows the crazy instability of the early days which created the Australian legend. The stunning clarity of his prose carries us into a dreamworld of astonishing and violent revelation, an entrancing and frightening landscape of murder, prejudice, sexuality, persecution, robbery, vanity, religion, greed, politics and corruption ... a world which we must finally recognise as our own."
"An important writer meets an important myth and reinvents it in the most sensual, visceral language he has yet produced...to forever change the way we see Ned Kelly." - Peter Carey
The lion is out of sorts. It's probably the smoke more than the human hubbub or the seesawing concertina music making it bark that deep and chilling moan and scrape its ribs along the bars of its wagon. You have to step close to see it - then hold your breath and heart still. Against every instinct, press your face up to the bars and peer into the ferocious meaty shadows. The bars are chipped and jungle-coloured, far too fragile-looking, with damp lion-fluff sticking to them. Balls of dusty lion-moult drift over the floor, too, among the odd bullock shin and lion dropping, and the lion pads through this muck with a fierce thin-hipped precision. Controlled panic. It hacks its moaning cough, it paces, it rubs its skin raw, but its paws never touch bone or turd.
From the pub's verandah he can catch a glimpse of the lion each time they throw another branch on the bonfire.
Now its tension has spread to the camel and four circus ponies. And to Mirth, dear Mirth, twitching and stamping on her tether in the saplings behind the inn. A mangy old lion, but not often seen in these parts-rare enough to keep Jane jones giggling at the idea of it all the way through their polka. Giggling, and prodding him to see if he's real. Pulling his beard.
From the Picador paperback edition, 1991.
This novel was shortlisted for the 1992 Miles Franklin Award.
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Last modified: December 24, 2005.