H(esba) F(ay) Brinsmead Geoffrey Trease - Essay

Geoffrey Trease

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In Beat of the City we have an outstanding illustration not only of the Australian efflorescence but of the revolution in themes, attitudes and vocabulary that has transformed children's fiction as a whole in the last decade or two. The particular city is Melbourne, but in a sense it could be any modern city. Here is the universal teenage world of puzzled parents and their sulky, sultry offspring—a world of transistors and motor-bikes, deception and delinquency, flick-knives and jazz groups and the juvenile courts, a world with an understandable fascination for countless boys and girls who never experience its seamier excitements for themselves.

I can hear the snorts of shocked grandfathers leafing through this book on Christmas afternoon. The way these four young characters talk—this appalling, mysterious, vivid Antipodean slang! (Isn't American bad enough?) And their truculent slogan: 'We are the only generation to be born superior to our parents!' And the things they do, and the things that (nearly) get done to them! Why, here on page 177 it's obvious that Raylene is about to be raped by Blade O'Reilley and his Death Riders—of course the author doesn't say so, or use any offensive expressions, but a child is sure to wonder why the boy hero told her so urgently: 'Get out, fast!' In the very next paragraph he gets someone's knee in the groin. That could never have happened to one of [G. A.] Henty's lads.

Geoffrey Trease, "Golden Age," in New Statesman (© 1966 The Statesman & Nation Publishing Co. Ltd.), Vol. 72, No. 1861, November 11, 1966, p. 708.∗