David Hunt won the Non-Fiction category of the Indie Awards last week for Girt, which is a hilarious and unusual history of some of the lesser known facts about our colonial history.
We asked him some questions about Girt and here is what he had to say.
PP: Tell us a little about your award winning book Girt?
DH: Girt is a book that stirs Australia's cultural melting pot with the wooden spoon of schadenfreude, adds a dash of rum, and then garnishes the resulting historical feast with the crushed stems of tall poppies.
It's volume one of a narrative of Australia, from Megafauna to Macquarie, and is dedicated to all those kids who hated Australian history at school and who are now adults who have better things to hate.
PP: Girt is quite an unusual history book. Can you tell us a little about how you approached researching it?
DH: I read lots of the usual history books, biographies, diaries, letters and other bits of papery goodness stashed away in Sydney's Mitchell Library. I even spoke to some academics. And of course I used Wikipedia.
The footnotes gave me an opportunity to wildly digress from the main narrative, enabling me to talk about coconuts, Star Trek, Jesus' circumcision, John Farnham, the dodo, American coffee (the worst drink in the universe), tobacco enemas, the French language, Alan Bond, Short Man Syndrome, a rhyming recipe for potato salad, deja vu, deja vu, mad racist skull collectors, Irish boy bands, Lindsay Lohan, cross-dressing, and what Justice Einfeld would have done before the invention of the motor car.
The book was about 75% research and 25% writing and editing. I loved the research side of things. I probably need to get out more.
PP: It's well known that Australians have a bit of the larrikin about them, but we are also quite a nationalistic bund. Do you think Australians will enjoy your "romp" through our colonial history?
DH: Why do you have romp in inverted commas? What are you implying? Are you suggesting that it's not a romp? Or that it's a pseudoromp? I contend that it is 100% true blue Aussie romp, with no cheap foreign romp substitutes.
Any Australians that don't enjoy my book should be stripped down to their Bonds, smeared with a mix of lamington and Bundy Rum, and staked out on the nearest bull ant nest.
PP: Was there an historical personage or incident that you just couldn't find anything to laugh about?
DH: It's hard to laugh at Aboriginal history, but I put my black armband away in my closet and gave it a red-hot go. Bennelong, Pemulwuy, Arabanoo and Andrew Snape Hammond Douglas White are all great Aboriginal characters. I try to use humour to make serious points about the impact of British settlement/invasion on Aboriginal community and culture.
PP: When you're not writing and researching award winning books, what do you read? Is there something on your bedside table right now that you can't put down?
DH: Science Fiction and Fantasy and are my guilty passion, but my favourite authors are John Irving, Kinky Friedman, Bill Bryson, Joseph Heller and Iain Banks ( read The Wasp Factory, if you haven't). I'm currently reading Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings, David Gilbert's & Sons and Hanif Kureishi's The Last Word. Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Hilary Mantel's Fludd are next on my list.
PP: I've heard rumours that you are working on something else right now. Can you tell us about it?
DH: I'm just starting out on True Girt, volume two in the Girt series. True Girt is the story of the wild southern frontier, where the men were men and so were some of the women. Think Henry Reynold's Forgotten War meets Banjo Paterson's The Man From Ironbark, crossed with Ruth Park's The Muddle Headed Wombat, written on Keith Windschuttle's stolen laptop.
|David Hunt accepting his Indie Award for Best Non-Fiction.|