Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow by Suzanne Falkiner, $50, 890 pages. UWA Publishing, February 2016, ISBN: 9781742586601
I WAS never a great fan of Randolph Stow. To me his prose and poetry epitomised the over-intellectualisation of Australian literature that prevailed in the 1960s and 1970s.
Like others, I thought this was a reaction of sorts to the realist tradition and an attempt to divert Australian literature away from its traditional roots – look at us now, we are just as sophisticated as you English writers.
This intellectualisation meant that the poor old reader had to spend time bogged down sifting through obscurities and subtleties and looking under rocks and between bedsheets to work out what the hell the writer was on about.
In contrast, the Americans were publishing good, clean and honest work by the likes of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee and many others.
Perhaps with the difficulties and limited appeal of Stow’s work in mind, Suzanne Falkiner opted to tell us about Mick Stow the man, rather than Randolph Stow the writer. It was a wise choice because Mick Stow was a fascinating man.