Books

29 September 2015

A Man's Got to Have a Hobby: Long Summers with My Dad, by William McInnes, Australia, 2005


McInnes looks back to the 1970s and 1980s when he was growing up in Queensland. The book, which is beautifully written, focuses on McInnes's parents (especially his father), his brother, his three sisters, his aunt and, of course, McInnes himself. It is a startlingly honest account with no attempt to soften the corners or to smudge out all those things that the passage of time has labelled unacceptable.

McInnes handles the vernacular with a delightful sense of ease, which gives the story a definite authenticity – nothing is forced; nothing jars. Nothing feels 'out of place' or uncomfortable. It is obvious that this is a language that McInnes fully understands.

The situations, as well as the relationships between the characters in the book, are skilfully described, and the book is speckled with a great deal of humour – in fact, there are many places where the term laugh-out-loud definitely applies.

  Photo of William McInnes from www.abc.net.au
As well as humour, there is also a sense of the serious and an astute understanding of the emotions that can often be hidden beneath the surface of any seemingly ludicrous situation. At no point, however, does the book descend into sentimentality. McInnes manages to convey the deep emotional links within a family as well as the extent to which those links can then stretch into the next generation and even beyond.

There is much in the book that will spark recognition, especially among readers who grew up in the same period or even earlier. It was a joy to read, and I highly recommend it.

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