A House of Trees (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Joan Colebrook spent her girlhood during the 1920’s in North Queensland, the upper part of an Australian state approximately one-sixth the size of the United States. Separated from the rest of Queensland by the unseen line marking the Tropic of Capricorn, this area was one of the last to be settled by white Australians, who started making their way north in the early 1900’s, a little over a century after the original penal colony had been established along Sydney Harbor. The land they sought to tame took as its border the Coral Sea’s glistening beaches and the Great Barrier Reef’s underwater carnival of shape and color. Mountain ranges, holding immense mineral resources, rose from the coastal plains. In the rich volcanic soil nurtured by abundant rainfall and sunshine all things grew—blazing flowers, delicate fruits, a rain forest. Animals that had somehow skipped the demands of evolution wandered amid an almost prehistoric landscape framed by iridescent water. Yet heat and violent storms, crippling isolation, six hundred or so different poisonous snakes, flying cockroaches, crocodiles, fish with deadly stings, dense growth, and geological formations that defied passage—all of these and more combined to reveal the place’s deceptive nature. Thea Astley, the contemporary Australian novelist whose fiction set in this region has gained international attention, captured the area’s essence in her essay “Being a Queenslander”: “Yes. It’s all in the...
(The entire section is 1422 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Chicago Tribune. December 20, 1987, XIV, p. 4.
Commonweal. CXIV, December 4, 1987, p. 707.
Kirkus Reviews. LV, September 15, 1987, p. 1360.
Library Journal. CXII, November 1, 1987, p. 108.
The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, January 17, 1988, p. 9.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXII, October 23, 1987, p. 42.
(The entire section is 33 words.)