First published in The Adelaide Review January 2010
Nicolas Rothwell’s writings exploring northern Australia – Wings of the Kite-Hawk, Another Country and The Red Highway – place him, thematically and stylistically, in a unique position amongst Australian writers. Now publishing a volume of essays, Journeys to the Interior, he talks with Luke Stegemann from his home in Darwin about finding a language to write this still largely unknown world.
Rothwell’s work exemplifies an alternative tradition he sees coming more into its own in Australian writing – that of “mazy, reduplicative” works that, far from being bound by the conventional strictures of the novel, fan out like desert creeks along multiple paths of drama, enquiry and observation, imbued with a consciousness of place, not afraid to repeat, to double back, to leap across barriers of logic. So dense are the imaginative and physical worlds that Rothwell has travelled through – worlds of pink, red rock, desert grass and awesome cloudstream, of places bearing lines of human creativity traced millennia deep; worlds of sinuous dreams and febrile visions – that it becomes difficult at times to know the line separating fact and fiction. The line is, in any case, either always shifting or simply illusory in Rothwell’s work, and nowhere more so than in the beautiful, unknowable north.
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