for Literature in 1973 - the only Australian, so far, to have won the prize. I am not sure he deserved it.
My father read White because his books were set texts for his degree in English Literature. Even now he says they were the books he enjoyed the least.
I was once introduced to White by Judith Wright with the words, "This is Cat and be polite to her. She writes too."
I soon understood why. White was a very rude man, a boor and a bully. He was extremely arrogant. He was not liked by his fellow writers - or at least those of my acquaintance. Some had read some of his work but I never found anyone who enthused about it. There may be people out there who enthuse about White and can understand what is so great about his writing. I have never managed to get through one of his books. They bore me.
Yes, it is probably me. Peter Carey bores me. Tim Winton bores me. I think Colleen McCullough's work could do with drastic editing.
This is probably terribly arrogant of me. I wonder sometimes if I should not make myself sit down and read these Australian writers. They are, after all, supposed to be "good". They are the writers whose work tends to be known as "good writing". It makes me wonder whether I do not appreciate "good writing" - whatever that might be.
So, I am interested when UK writers tell me they know about Australian writers and like them. To date they have not mentioned White or Winton. One person has mentioned Carey and, like me, does not "get along" with him. Tom Kenneally has been mentioned and, although he irritates me, I recognise he can write. Sonya Hartnett and John Marsden have been mentioned. Garth Nix has been too.
Colin Thiele has not been mentioned, indeed he seems to be little known outside South Australia despite "Sun on the Stubble" and "Storm Boy". People know the titles rather than the name of the author. Other children's books like Robin Klein's "People Might Hear You" and Ivan Southall's "Josh" have never rated a mention and yet they are outstandingly good books in my view. Then there are the quieter, gentler reads, Hesba Brinsmead's "Pastures of the Blue Crane" and Eleanor Spence's "The Summer in Between" - both under-rated books about growing up.
The internet age may make more very recent fiction internationally available but I think we have irretrievably lost some past treasures. They matter because they are among the books that almost certainly influenced current Australian writing. I can be fairly certain that Hartnett, Nix and Marsden have read some of these. I just wonder if they have read Patrick White.