Note also that Eleanor Hogan's Alice Springs, the latest in a series of books on Australian cities published by NewSouth Publishing, will be launched at Readings in Carlton on Monday night.
Eleanor kept the popular blog The View From Elsewhere during her time in Alice and has drawn on her experiences there in writing this account. She also wrote for Sarsaparilla, a space some of you might remember.
Hogan’s uncompromising narrative is based on her experience living in Alice Springs between 2005 and 2010 to work as a policy officer in Aboriginal services. Looming large is a disparate population. Some residents are non-Indigenous expats from capital cities who have relocated to ‘make a difference’ as part of the town’s welfare economy. Others are the Aboriginal recipients of this welfare, many of whom Hogan shows to be living in serious disadvantage born from dispossession, and made even more difficult by seemingly unending cycles of alcohol, violence, poverty, bureaucracy and exploitation.
These depictions are not based on idle impressions, but are supported by a public servant’s eye for statistics and policy documents and a journalist’s skill in interviewing prominent community members. Lives led in this place of extremes are difficult, but are cross-cut with the pleasures of community that exist in regional centres, and the importance of sport, art, friendship, family and culture.
A tough portrait of life in a beautiful but harsh landscape of contradictions, Alice Springs is as much a series of general questions about living ethically as it is Hogan’s memoir of being an outsider looking in.