Monday, December 02, 2013

Patti Miller book - The Mind of a Thief

from w
As my eldest grandson will be in Year 12 at Geelong High School next year he has already bought some of the textbooks on the list including 'The Mind of a Thief' by Patti Miller, a writer I only know from her reputation as a teacher of creative writing particularly life writing.  So I read the book during the past three days and wondered why it was chosen for kids who are about seventeen years old. It is the point of view of a middle-aged woman, her memoirs, her thoughts about identity - the Irishness of ancestors, the dreams of an identity in Paris, the modern Australian intelligent woman, the once a country bumpkin in a small town of Wellington, NSW. So when someone suggested that one ancestor was an Aboriginal woman Patti Miller set out to study the history of her hometown. Her thoughts waver between present and past, research at the Mitchell Library, interviews with a handful of people in Wellington, the present-day Aboriginals particularly from two opposing Land Rights communities.  The book raises plenty of questions post-Mabo so I suppose that's why the book was chosen for study. I really wonder if my sixteen year old lad will really find it interesting as his identity is a mix of Oz, Fijian, and American TV culture.

When writer Patti Miller discovers that the first post-Mabo Native Title claim was made by the Wiradjuri in the Wellington Valley where she grew up, she begins to wonder where she belongs in the story of the town. It leads her to the question at the heart of Australian identity – who are we in relation to our cherished stolen country?

There's an interesting video by the ABC on revisiting the story of Wellington, the reader Claudia Karvan and some illustrations.  Go to


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