When I was growing up, I never went to an Anzac Day Parade, even though eight of my great-uncles had served during WWI. By the end of that war, all my family had very conflicting views about military service. One of my grannys had lost her only brother to the trenches. Some of my other great-uncles came back permanently scarred by their experiences. My father’s family became pacificsts. My mother’s family, who had suffered the worse losses, viewed things differently. WWI cast its shadow across the generations.
David Metzenthen‘s new book Black Water is a very lyrical telling of what happens to young Farren Fox when his older brother returns wounded from WWI. Black Water has been shortlisted for heaps of prizes this year, including the CBCA Older Readers Award and the NSW Premier’s Award and it’s easy to see why.
Sometimes, when I’m reading David Metzenthen’s work, I can hear the echoes of my grandfather’s voice – a very poetic, intrinsically Australian voice. When I was a small child, I used to go and stay with my war veteran grandfather in Canberra and a visit to the War Memorial was always an important part of our time together. Next month, I’ll be going up to Canberra on a May Gibbs Creative Fellowship. Though my grandfather is long dead, I’m sure I’ll hear his voice there again. Some people whom we’ve loved and lost never really leave us.