In a month long two-way email interview with award winning Melbourne author Alec Patric, I uncover writing craft inspiration and a mutual love of beautifully crafted guitars. Patric is the author of Black Rock White City (2015), acclaimed novella Bruno Kramzer (2013), Las Vegas for Vegans (2012) and The Rattler & Other Stories (2011).
Alec Patric. Image copyright Alec Patric
Caroline Barron: Tomorrow is Saturday, the beginning of the school holidays. We’re heading off as a family to Lake Rotoiti, which is in the middle of the North Island. Maori legend has it that a young warrior was hunting for delicacies for his pregnant wife when his dog ran off chasing a Kiwi through the forest. When the dog returned a few hours later, wet and sicking up half-digested fish, the warrior realised there must be a lake nearby and searched the forest until he found Lake Rotoiti (and Lake Rotorua). So, tomorrow, I have no work commitments and it’s looking like the perfect day.
Saturday, no work commitments; how does the perfect day look?
‘Even War must end some time, and perhaps if we are alive in three or four years’ time, we may recover the hidden childhood again and find that after all the dust and ashes which covered it haven’t spoilt it much.’- Letter from Vera to Roland, 1915
Testament of Youth is a momentous historical text preserving for us – the lucky generations – what war really meant. Most poignantly it is the portrait of Vera Brittain’s unrelenting and tragic psychological annihilation during and after World War One. Through loss after tragedy after loss we see the breakdown of Brittain’s hope, which we would now label ‘post traumatic stress’. Through Brittain’s diary extracts, letters and poems we see her decline from hopeful, energetic, burgeoning feminist and Oxford student – giddily in love for the first time – to a broken, traumatized, suicidal twenty-something who hallucinates that her face is covered in fungus each time she looks in the mirror. Continue reading