The morning after the election

November 25, 2007 at 2:16 am (Uncategorized) ()

The morning after the election of the Rudd Labor Party to power, a few thoughts come to mind. Both Adolf Hitler and John Howard were in power for about the same length of time. The Fuhrer committed physical suicide while Prime Minister Howard committed political suicide. Some would argue that the Fuhrer’s voluntary exit was inevitable while Prime Minister Howard’s  shove could have merely been a shift if he had been a little more realistic. The man that made wedge politics an art form has been well and truly shafted and it seems that he has even lost his parliamentary seat.

The whole of the Fuhrer’s party in the Germany of 1945 went up in smoke, even if that analogy is a little insensitive, considering what they had done to the Jews, whereas many of the Neo-nazies of the Coalition have survived, at least in opposition; Abbott, Andrews, Costello, Downer,  Hockey and Ruddock readily come to mind.

We can only hope that with Federal Labor in power, medical, immigration, fiscal, industrial, diplomatic and legal policies will more truly reflect the values of a liberal democracy.

The blue believers step aside for the true believers, or this is what we hope. John Howard said it had been a privilege to be prime minister of this “beautiful country”. Kevin Rudd talked of “writing a new page in our nation’s history”. Let’s hope he does.

Permalink Leave a Comment

The fate of James Ward

November 24, 2007 at 3:36 am (Fiction) ()

Bill Clayton never forgot James Ward. His memory came up again when Bill read that George Mallory’s body had been found on Everest but not his camera. James’s camera had been found but not his body. Would Mallory’s camera tell us if he got to the top of Everest? Would finding James’s body tell us what had happened to him? The mysteries and ironies of life will always be with us but in Churchill’s words: “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”

Sepik people do not forget taim bilong bipo (olden times) so for them the past is a living memory. The masalai (spirits of the forests) live on and it is pleasing to think of James Ward amongst them in some sort of immortal state. It is memory that raises people from the dead, or in William Batak’s words: Tingting kirapim man i dai pinis. The people in this tale might be forgotten outside the Sepik but they will live on in the Tok Pisin (Pidgin talk) of Sepiks.

Dispela planti tok long samting long lapun man bilong wara Sepik. ( This is a lot of talk by an old man from the Sepik River.)

Em tasol (That’s all)

Excerpt from Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

Permalink Leave a Comment

Life in a Papua New Guinea patrol post

November 22, 2007 at 1:35 am (Uncategorized) ()

Like the surrounding villages, the patrol post of Dreikikir was perched on a ridge, amidst dense tropical jungle. Human habitation in the area was marked by houses, gardens and tall coconut palms. Smoke rose from cooking fires in the settlements and the sounds of insects and birds filled the air. Communication was maintained in the time-honoured fashion by wooden drums. The sounds of the garamut drums were heard conveying messages beaten out on them. One might love or hate New Guinea but there was no denying its pulsating vitality. The jungle was a celebration of nature. The Melanesians in their exuberance and energy flamboyantly acclaimed their lives. The expatriates in the country, whether they knew it or not, were privileged to have the chance to live amongst the New Guineans.

Excerpt from Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk  

Permalink Leave a Comment

The demise of Masta Bob

November 20, 2007 at 11:01 pm (Fiction) ()

In the early part of the year, the town was shocked by the sudden demise of Bob McDonald, distinguished rivercomber, raconteur, recruiter, returned soldier and amateur sexologist. One afternoon James Ward was sitting in his house when there was a frantic knock on his door. He answered it and there was Yum, Bob’s mankimasta (servant). Masta James, kam kwik, Masta Bob mi ting em dai pinisim. (Master James, come quickly. I think Master Bob is dead.) James rushed down to Bob’s shack and there he was stretched out on a sleeping mat as cold as ice and as naked as the day he was born. James sent up word for Des Murray to come. Des arrived and confirmed Bob’s death. Yum told Des that he just found him dead on the sleeping mat. Des concluded that he must have died in his sleep. This, Des thought, was in keeping with his known heart condition and his drinking habits. There were a number of empty beer cans around the shack. Des made arrangements to have the body taken to a temporary morgue in the hospital and for Norm Brown to make up a coffin. After Des left, Yum approached James and spoke to him: 

Mi laikim tok save long yu, Masta.Masta Bob dringim planti bia, nau em spak liklik.Nau em singaut long Maria.Masta Bob givim nem long Maria, Blackbokis, nu em singaut, Blackbokis kam hariap mi laik goapim, bel i kirap.Maria go long Masta. bihain em tok save long mi.Masta strongpela, wokim mi gutpela tru, nau wantu em dai pinis.Meri sori long Masta Bob.Mi sem liklik na mi liak tok save long yu, Masta James, tasol. Mi no laik tok long dokta. Masta Bob gutpela man tru, mi sori long em.

 

 (I want to talk to you about what happened.Master Bob drank a lot of beer and was a little drunk.He called out for Maria, the woman he called the Black Bat, to come quickly, as he was sexually aroused, and he wanted to enter her.Maria went to Master Bob and afterwards she told me what had happened.Master was very strong sexually, and then suddenly he died.The woman is very sorry about Master Bob.I’m a bit ashamed and I only want to talk to you, Master James.I don’t want to talk to the doctor.Master Bob was truly a good man and I’m sorry for him.) 

James thanked Yum for telling him. He knew that Yum would be going back to his home village after Bob’s funeral which would have to be in the next day or so. He gave Yum some money and also helped Maria financially. They had both been loyal to Bob over the years. Whatever was said of Bob, all agreed that he had not been an overtly religious man. He had been Presbyterian at birth and a Protestant all his life with a healthy suspicion of Catholicism. So it was considered inappropriate to ask Fr Brill to conduct the funeral service. The Assistant District Commissioner, John Barnes, fortunately stepped into the breach, and offered to selectively read from the order of burial in The Book of Common Prayer. Bob was to be buried at the end of the airstrip in a cemetery that held other expatriates who had ended their days in Angoram. Most of the town people assembled for the funeral. The coffin arrived in the Land Rover and was carried to the grave by Allen Warburton, James Ward, Bill Clayton and Norm Brown. John Barnes read the service well and the beauty of the interment words added a dignified formality to the proceedings: “…as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto Himself the soul of our dear brother (Bob) here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.” After all had paid their final respects, club members went to the club and fittingly toasted and drank Bob into eternity. James Ward reflected on Bob’s final passing in a theological sense. He knew that Bob’s demise had been brought on by a massive heart attack. Sex would have increased his heart rate and blood pressure to fatal levels, bringing on coronary thrombosis. The big question in James’s mind was: was Bob’s moment of physical bliss translated into eternal bliss? Would his physical contemplation of Maria be elevated to a supernatural contemplation of glory? Theologians tell us that the Beatific Vision renders one supremely happy. One could conclude that Bob was happy at the moment of his expiration, and James just could not believe that the Godhead would be such a spoil sport as to condemn Bob to eternal damnation in the next instant. The state of the soul at the moment of death and contrition and forgiveness James recognised as pertinent issues. He was quite sure that Bob would not have thought that the restoration of his sexual vigour was in anyway sinful. So the question of the penitent’s detestation of sin or if indeed any penitential rite was required in Bob’s situation was debatable. It was James’s firm belief that in that flicker of time between the natural and supernatural, there would have been ample time for Bob to make a perfect act of contrition. It would not have been such a gigantic leap from a pure love of Maria to a pure love of God. From the arms of Maria into the arms of Father Abraham, and like the saints of old, Bob would go marching home. 

Excerpt from Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

Permalink Leave a Comment

The dynamism of Dr Marek Karski

November 20, 2007 at 7:09 am (Fiction) ()

That year James received a visit from his boss from Port Moresby, Dr Marek Karski, accompanied by Temlett Conibeer, the District Malaria Supervisor from Wewak. Marek and Temlett arrived on an early morning plane from Wewak.

 Marek bounded out of the plane looking fresh and energetic and carrying a large brief case. Temlett looked somewhat the worse for wear, and despite his rather tall and large stature, he was overshadowed by Marek’s presence. On seeing James Ward, Dr Karski rushed to him and said: “James, my friend, it’s good to see you. We all have a lot of work to do. Arrange a meeting with the Medical Assistant, Assistant District Commissioner, and I’d also like to talk to Bill Clayton, your local member. Before doing this, have these radiograms sent as soon as possible.”

 As chance would have it, Bill Clayton turned up just at this moment, and James said: “Oh, Bill, this is Dr Karski. He is very anxious to meet you.”

 Marek started in at full throttle about the battle against malaria in the Sepik: “Bill, as the local member here, I want to outline to you the initiatives we intend to take in your electorate to fight malaria. I hear that you’ve been very supportive of James, and for this you have my appreciation and thanks.”

 Bill said: “Doctor, James is an excellent officer and he deserves my support. By the way, where are you staying while you’re in Angoram?” “Well, I’m not sure, Bill.” “You would be most welcome to stay at my house.” “That is most kind.  I’ll take you up on that offer.” James Ward then said:”Temlett can stay with me.”Temlett with a startled look said: “Thanks!” Bill then went off with Marek, and James took Temlett to his house, after arranging the luggage.

 They had all arranged to meet at James’s house for a working lunch. On the way to James’s house, Temlett held forth on the strain of being with Dr Karski: “He never stops. Last night, I was up with him until one in the morning, drinking all the time. This morning he was sitting down to a big breakfast, as bright as a button. You wouldn’t have known he’d had a drink. I don’t know where he puts it all. I hope you have a few cartons at home. He’ll drink most of them and stay as sober as a judge, but at least if you get pissed, it’s easier to put up with him than if you stay sober. The old bastard will talk malaria solidly for hours, so you just have to make sure the booze is flowing. He eats like a horse too, and if you produce a brandy after dinner he’ll polish off the whole bottle. He wants you to start spraying in the Grass Country. So, Ward, you’ll have to pull your finger out.” “Are there any funds for this?” James enquired. Temlett answered: “I don’t suppose so.”

 When James got home, he ordered Kami to make sure there was plenty of beer in the refrigerator and to cook a large meal of curry and rice. Bill and Marek duly arrived for the working lunch. One could tell looking at Bill that he had consumed a few beers. Presumably, Marek had also had a few drinks, but he showed no obvious signs. Kami gave everyone a can of beer and served lunch. Marek ate and drank with gusto, while talking at length of the progress of the malaria campaign. He said to the group: “Bill has agreed to give our campaign a high political profile in the next meeting of the House. James, I hope you have informed Des Murray and John Barnes that Temlett and I are here. Bill told me that they are the Medical Assistant and Assistant District Commissioner. I called into the hospital on the way up but Des was out. I’ve not had a chance to call into the Sub-District office yet. As I discussed with Bill already, James, I want to start operations in the Grass Country as soon as possible. That mass blood survey you conducted confirmed a very high incidence of infection there.”

 After lunch, Des Murray and John Barnes turned up and Marek put them in the picture about his malaria eradication plans. They were both impressed and told Marek that James could expect their full co-operation. While these discussions were going on, a considerable amount of alcohol was consumed. All except Marek appeared to be the worse for wear. Marek looked completely sober and animated. After some time, Des Murray and John Barnes excused themselves. Towards late afternoon the conversation turned to subjects other than malaria. Dr Karski said to Temlett Conibeer: “Temlett, I have great admiration for your gentle race and I’ll always remember fondly my time in England.” He then told the group about his time working for a diploma in tropical medicine in Liverpool. Next his war experiences in Poland came up. James Ward instructed Kami to prepare an evening meal, but before they sat down to this, a note arrived from Des Murray for Dr Karski, telling him that he had a very difficult case in the hospital and he required his assistance.

 Marek responded immediately, and after a period of about two hours he went to Bill’s house, saying only that he had performed a caesarean operation and telling Bill that he would now enjoy his dinner with a glass of brandy.

 The next day Des Murray told James what had happened. “James, I had this woman about to go into labour. I could see she was in a lot of distress. She was bleeding and had high blood pressure. I also feared that the foetus was in a breech position. Normally, I’d have got her out to Wewak, but it was too late for a plane to come in. I remembered that Karski had a great reputation in Rabaul as a surgeon. I thought he’s my only chance. All I can say is that he’s really brilliant.

 “As you know, our operating theatre is pretty primitive. Well, he quickly examined the woman, and said that he would have to operate as soon as possible. He confirmed the unborn child was in a breech position. He stabilised the haemorrhaging and put her on a drip. I gave her a general anaesthetic, and he proceeded with the caesarean. Everything went well and a perfect boy was delivered. Mother and child are both doing very well. There is no need for me to send them to Wewak. If he hadn’t been here, I’m quite sure that the woman would have died.”

 Dr Karski and Temlett Conibeer left by the early plane after Karski had visited the hospital to check on his patient.

 Karski’s dynamism would long be remembered around Angoram.

Excerpt from Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

Permalink Leave a Comment

On patrol in the Grass Country

November 20, 2007 at 2:21 am (Fiction) ()

The patrol was out for fifteen days and the last village visited was Kambaramba. The patrol duties were duly carried out, and because the village was particularly large with a population of about 1,500, completing these took up the whole day. While the mass blood survey was being conducted, there was a lot of giggling and flaunting of their charms on the part of the girls. At the end of the day, James retired to the haus kiap exhausted, and after a shower using water hauled up from below the house, which, like all other houses, was built over water, he had a meal of bully beef, rice and kango (water cress or Sepik spinach) prepared by Peter Ettu. After the meal, he lit his pipe and smoked a rich tobacco blend he had recently purchased. He hoped by smoking he could keep the mosquitoes away. The luluai paid him a visit and they talked and smoked together for a while, James giving him some of his tobacco which he appreciated. The luluai then left and said: gutnait (goodnight) to James. James decided there was nothing to do but get under the mosquito net erected over his bet sel (canvas stretcher bed) in an effort to get away from the mosquitoes. He turned the hurricane lamp down and soon fell asleep. Some hours later, James felt himself gradually awaking with a sublime sensation of delight. Prior to full consciousness, he experienced a sense of pleasurable delirium throughout his body and on awaking he became aware of a pleasant musky smell. It was then that he felt the delightful body next to him and the upsurge of carnal excitement in his own body. This mischievous imp who had appeared from nowhere had placed her hand on James’s manhood and was rhythmically stroking it, while whispering in his ear: 

James, bel bilong mi kirap long yu, mi laik givim swit long yu.Yu laik goap? Nem bilong mi, Kanbi. Mi laikim yu tru.

 (James, I’m sexually aroused by you and I would like to give you pleasure. Would you like to enter me? My name is Kanbi and I like you very much.)

 By this time, James was no longer a free agent and he entered Kanbi with pleasure. What a delectable creature she was, with a young body in the prime of life. She had an exact and perfect figure with lustrous full breasts and an energetic playfulness that would stir the body of any man. It’s no exaggeration to say that James spent a night of ecstasy in Kambaramba.

 Kanbi left him at dawn just after he had given her a generous monetary reward for services rendered, as was the customary expectation.

 In the morning James’s team greeted him with a cheery gutmoning Masta (good morning Master) and a smile on their faces. James knew that they all knew that he had a visitor during the night.On the way back to Angoram, James started humming the latest hit by Jose Feliciano, Light My Fire, and he thought to himself that Kanbi had truly set the night on fire and if only for this, 1968 was a year of promise and consummation.

On arriving in Angoram, James posted the blood slides to Port Moresby.

Excerpt from Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

Permalink Leave a Comment

Letters: SEPIK –AN AUTHENTIC INSIGHT

November 19, 2007 at 10:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, )


My friends said, “don’t go back, you’ll be so disappointed. This view seemed to be reinforced by reading Professor Patience’s article: “The other disaster on our doorstep,” in which he writes of Papua New Guinea as a “vast administrative and political mess”.My desire to return to the Sepik, however, remained strong. This was an area I had worked in in the sixties and early seventies. I have many friends still living there.The few words I write are based on first impressions and appearances, but perhaps provide something of an authentic insight by one who saw stark contrasts between the colonial East Sepik district and the present East Sepik province. But what had not changed was perhaps something most fundamental.This was the fine quality of the Sepik people. They were still essentially the same friendly, hospitable, accepting and genuine people I knew of old.Wewak is still a vibrant township, but with obvious signs of degeneration and decay that somewhat mar first impressions: pot holes on  roads, litter and inappropriate dumping of rubbish. Existing buildings and structures appear to be in general poorly maintained. The Wewak hospital looks rundown and, I remarked to someone that maintenance in the last thirty years or so seems to have been at a minimum. The local people told me about the inadequate medical supplies in stock at the hospital, and the time taken to get a diagnosis. From what I could see, there has been a general breakdown of government health services. Aid posts no longer exist in the villages.

The anti-malaria campaign of the past has been stopped. The one rural hospital that I observed in Angoram is a little more than a clinic with no in-patients. This is at a time when there is an emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic.In Wewak, the stores in town seem to employ as many security guards as assistants.The fate of Angoram, a past vigorous and lively town on the Sepik River, makes me so sad for the people still living there.

Shortly before I visited Angoram, I met Sir Michael Somare, the Prime Minister, at a yacht club function in Wewak. Somare was known to me in my younger days. We are both seventy years old and my first impressions of him were that he was a shadow of his former self, but then again, he may have been only somewhat tired and if he remembered me, he may have thought that I was also a shadow of my former self.

Anyhow, I told him that I intended to visit Angoram and he informed me that it was just the same. It was perhaps just the same as it was in the previous week, but it is certainly not the same town I remembered in the old days.

Angoram no longer has a functioning airstrip, wharf, or power plant. In fact, there has been no power for four years. Buildings are in an appalling state of repair, and in many cases no longer exist. The people are disillusioned and distrustful of their politicians.

The feeling I got was that if a referendum was held posing the question of whether the country should be returned to Australian rule, 90 percent of the Sepik people would vote yes.

I did also visit Maprik and Dreikikir and I was much more impressed with what seems to be happening in terms of road building and erection of permanent structures in these towns and surrounding villages. Maprik is a bustling little township and a lot of dynamism I observed in the area is said to have sprung from an energetic local member, Gabriel Kapris, who was elected in 2002.

I left the East Sepik Province with a lot of troubling questions unanswered. Why was a Malaysian logging company allowed to start operations in such a sensitive ecological forest in the area behind Kaup and the Murik Lakes? Why are priceless teak trees being sold to a Thai logging company for as little as K100 each in the villages around Yangoru?

The Sepik people deserve more than they have been given by their government and particularly my friends who are still living in Angoram.

David Wall
Newtown, NSW
AUSTRALIA

“Islands Business” September 06

Permalink 1 Comment

The expatriate legacy; part of the history of PNG

November 19, 2007 at 11:33 am (Uncategorized) ()

 “Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk” is a novel about characters formed by the time and place they lived in. BAEAU TAI writes.

“Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk” is a novel written by Australian writer David Wall about PNG in the 60s and 70s.
The novel was launched on Sunday 11 March 2007 at 152 Wilson St Newtown in Sydney by John Bowers, retired British Army Officer and ex PNG Patrol Officer, Police Officer and Judge’s Associate.
David Wall, a modest thoughtful and perceptive narrator, draws upon his Papua New Guinea experiences spanning some 18 years spent largely as a Health Officer in rural areas, to weave a tale based upon real and imaginary persons and situations and scattered with quaint but apt philosophical views and quotations.
In David Wall’s first novel we meet his enigmatic chief character, James Ward.
James is an intelligent, questioning and perhaps fearful Roman Catholic, uncertain as to whether he seeks Lassiter’s Reef or the Holy Grail.
His orthodox upbringing ill prepares him for his collision with the “freewheeling”, perhaps promiscuous life style of Angoram, the factual Sepik River outpost which is the main setting for Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk.
James Ward’s would be lover, Laura Sheppard perceptively understands his psyche. When discussing their relationship, she says “It doesn’t do anyone’s self-esteem any good to be viewed as an occasion of sin and I wouldn’t want you discussing our sex life with some creepy old priest.”
At Angoram and along the Sepik River, we are introduced to the residents: priests, patrol officers, traders and others whose occupations are less clearly defined – a visiting sociologist from the USA described the Angoram expats as being sustained by some private dream of riches without labour.
This was perhaps apposite for some, but for others even the dream had gone.
This cast of eclectic characters is skillfully portrayed and was undoubtedly drawn from the author’s wealth of experience and shows his keen sense of observation and personality insight.
David’s good friend, Peter Johnson, an Englishman, who has lived in Papua New Guinea for over 47 years as a trader and agent, and who still lives in Angoram reviews the novel in his own words.
“If it’s Harrison Ford, blasting volcanoes or cannibals and crocodiles red in tooth and claw you are seeking, then don’t bother to read this quite excellent novel of the real life in out-station Papua New Guinea during the 1960s and 70s, as “colonials” came face to face with Self-Government and then, Independence.”
Around 1972, I met Keith and Jean McCarthy in Brian Bell’s Boroko store and it seemed that they were buying half the white-goods on offer. I asked Keith, “Surely you are not thinking of leaving?”
“Well,” he said, “it’s like this. We almost don’t know anyone anymore, so yes, we are going South shortly.”
This was the dilemma faced by all long term residents of “The Territory” and the dilemma faced by James Ward and his fellow expatriates in Angoram.
“Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk” follows them through their difficulties and agonized decision making – to leave, or to stay?
White Papua New Guinea residents will understand, appreciate and greatly enjoy this book, Australians devoid of the “PNG experience” will perhaps be less convinced of its veracity, but will be amazed if convinced that truth is indeed stranger than fiction. Anyway, they will also enjoy it. Papua Niugini nationals may have even more difficulty, but for the older literate citizens, it may help to provide some explanation for the odd behavior of the expatriates they observed in their youth; some may even nostalgically wish to turn back the clock,” Peter said.

About the author
David Andrew Wall was born on 29 February 1936 and came to Papua as a plantation assistant. He later worked in New Guinea as a Lands Officer and as a Malaria Control Officer with the Department of Public Health in Maprik and Angoram.
He left after Self Government, gained a degree in Sydney and worked as librarian at a prominent Sydney school until his recent retirement.
David still thinks of his wonderful time in PNG. “The most memorable time for me were the years in the then East Sepik District and particularly the time in Angoram on the Sepik River. I made many friends among the expatriates and the New Guineans. I think looking back, wara Sepik na blut bilong mi tanim wantaim”.
In 1972 he married and Deborah, his wife, worked for a short period in 1973 as Press Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition (with Matthias ToLiman and then with Tei Abal).
They left PNG shortly before self-government in 1974. They both became teachers in New South Wales.
They are now retired from teaching and Deborah is involved in many projects with the Aboriginal and Filipino communities around Sydney.
Their two children, Andrei and David Augustus are grown up. Andrei works as a teacher in Kuwait and David Augustus as a graphic designer in Sydney.
After leaving PNG, David thought for many years he had forgotten about the place. He did make a brief visit back to the Sepik in the late 1970s but in more recent years, memories have been constantly flooding back. “The many characters among the expatriates and many outstanding people of PNG from the past increasingly jolted my memory and I returned to the East Sepik for a visit last year.
“The returning consciousness I had of PNG and its people motivated me to start writing a novel last year. This experience is perhaps encapsulated in the next paragraph.
In some ways the writing of the novel was a journey down memory lane. A nostalgia for the past and a wish to create a fictional story based on recollections. In the twilight of one’s life, sometimes the past takes on new dimensions and appreciations and the years I spent in PNG have left me with an emotional commitment to the country and its people.”

 

Weekender

The National, Friday, March 16, 2007

 

 

Permalink Leave a Comment

Book Review

November 19, 2007 at 6:45 am (Uncategorized) ()

·                                 Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk Publisher: Swirl (January 23, 2007)                         

 A short novel that looks at expatriate life in Papua New Guinea in the 60s and 70s. There are a range of characters from missionaries and administration employees to commercial people.

 Life is played out against a backdrop of a vast untamed land on the verge of political transformation. The drinking,womanizing and at times altruism of the largely male-dominated society reflects a devil may care attitude that might deceive the reader in its very simplicity.

The characterization of personalities is portrayed in a kaleidoscope of events that at times lacks a depth of analysis, however, in a strange way paints an authentic picture that has an air of reality about it.

James Ward, the central character, never really harmonizes heaven in the next world with his quest for sexual fulfillment in this world. Bill Clayton, his great friend, is a much more practical man and he sustains a life with much more positive outcomes. 

Perhaps the greatest fault in the novel is that the land and its people are at times seen as a mere appendage to the expatriates’ concerns. This criticism in some ways applies to the women in the story.

There has been some attempt to portray Laura Sheppard, the woman Ward loves, as a substantial person in her own right and Dr Yuriko Kamae as a female with a mind as well as a body but the native women in the main are little more than tantalizing sexual objects. This on the other hand might tempt one to ask was this really true of Papua New Guinea? 

Overall, the book is worth reading mainly because it has a certain unadulterated reality about it, which one suspects springs from the author’s long years spent in PNG and it can justifiably be classified in the genre of historical fiction. 

A. W. Collins

Lecturer in English

Casablanca University of Technology

Permalink 1 Comment

Comments on Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

November 19, 2007 at 6:33 am (Uncategorized) ()

Comments by a French woman writer
To: David Wall

Dear Mr Wall,I finished reading your book, I actually read it nearly in one go, which is always a good sign. You certainly have managed very well the purpose of a writer : to transport successfully the reader into another time and another space. So, congratulations!I enjoyed the story, and the way it was presented. The chapters are cleverly linked to one another, and I liked the appropriate quotes at the beginning. To introduce the protagonists in the first chapter was a good idea, although maybe  it was a bit too detailed and crowded. As a person brought up in a very traditional catholic environment in France, I was very interested in the importance of religious Missions in PNG, in religion seen from the point of view of indigenous people, ( I agreed with Kitahi, and one cannot help making a comparison with the Australian Aborigines), and also the famous and eternal GUILT which associates with Catholicism. I also enjoyed the humour of your writing:  the speech on Anzac Day p. 42, the rivercombers on p. 57, (that reminded me of the time I was living in Darwin, where people were living on the beach…) , the funny confession on p. 103,   and so on.  And the nice illustrations came as a pleasant surprise.The quest for the blue orchid gives the end of the book an interesting and exciting climax, and  gives the story another dimension. So, I congratulate you, as I know that to write any book at all requires a lot of time, dedication, discipline and talent . Lots of people dream of writing a story, and you have achieved that dream, so, bravo!!!!  Of course as a female reader, I found quite a bit of chauvinism (equally towards indigenous and expatriate women) permeating through the male characters, but I gather it reflects the time and the place….Having visited PNG briefly in 1978, I therefore was interested in the history and culture references. As I have started a collection of books written by people I know personally, (so far you are the 4th person…),  I’ll have to meet you and your wife one day… And another thing, the cover design is very elegant and beautiful. So au revoir et félicitations, Monsieur Wall.Geneviève Thibaux 

Permalink 2 Comments

Next page »

%d bloggers like this: