Category Archives: Borrowed Keepsakes

Frederick Sinnett (1830-1866)

An extract from ‘Fiction Fields of Australia’ published in The Journal of Australasia 1857.

‘Man can no more do without works of fiction than he can do without clothing…On the shape of novels, then, civilised man, at the present day, receives the greater part of the fictitious clothing necessary to cover the nakedness of his mind; and our present inquiry is into the feasibility of obtaining the material for this sort of manufacture from Australian soil…Our inquiry is into the feasibility of writing Australian novels…the suitability of Australian life and scenery for the novel writer’s purpose; and, secondly, into the right manner of treatment…The great mass of mankind can only hope to catch glimpses of the glory of ‘every common sight,’ when genius holds it up for them in the right light…The first genius that performs similar service in Australia will dissipate our incredulity, as to this matter, for ever…If we were asked what was the first requisite of a novel, we should say human character. The second – human character. The third – human character. Even plot and   incident comes afterwards, and the mere question of costume and local colouring comes after plot and incident…Now in the kind of novel we want to see written, but we do not expect to read for some time, we want to see a picture of universal human life and passion, but represented as modified by Australian externals.’

Kurt Vonnegut

“You’re learning now that you do not inhabit a solid, reliable, social structure — that the older you get people around you are worried, moody, goofy human beings who themselves were little kids only a few days ago. So home can fall apart and schools can fall apart, usually for childish reasons, and what have you got? A space wanderer named Nan.

And that’s O.K. I’m a space wanderer named Kurt, and Jane’s a space wanderer named Jane, and so on. When things go well for days on end, it is an hilarious accident.

You’re dismayed at having lost a year, maybe, because the school fell apart. Well — I feel as though I’ve lost the years since Slaughterhouse-Five was published, but that’s malarky. Those years weren’t lost. They simply weren’t the way I’d planned them. Neither was the year in which Jim had to stay motionless in bed while he got over TB. Neither was the year in which Mark went crazy, then put himself together again. Those years were adventures. Planned years are not.”

– Kurt Vonnegut, in a letter to his daughter Nanette