16.4.06


Well I did finish drafting my book, which for the mo' I'm calling White City, yesterday. I was somewhat alarmed, when I did the stats, to find that it's 75,000 words long, including the prologue I wrote late last year. Took about three months to assemble the rest, from late Jan. to mid-April. Worked every weekday bar Australia Day and one other mid-week Wednesday when I had a crisis and couldn't. But what is it? I don't know. And may not for quite a while yet. If it was all a big waste of time, that wouldn't be a first. I've got three other unpublished books to my 'credit'. One is just awful and must be destroyed sometime, though I have extracted from it a novella that I think might be okay. Another involves intimate family matters and my sisters and my mother, who was still alive then, in a rare act of unanimity, nixed it. The third I probably could publish somewhere if I really tried but lack the enthusiasm; it isn't bad, it just isn't very good.

A White City by the way is an amusement park. The term originated in 1893 as a name for the World's Columbian Exposition and Fair in Chicago, because of the predominantly white buildings there. Curiously, this Fair had an influence upon Walter Burley Griffin's winning design for the (very off white) City of Canberra. There was and is a White City in Sydney, it's behind Rushcutters Bay in the eastern suburbs, where the NSW Lawn Tennis Association has its HQ; before Luna Park was built at Milsons Point there was an earlier version here and the name has stuck. Taxi drivers still use it and it appears on some maps as the name of a tennis club. I picked it up from driving years ago but it wasn't until I read Laurie Duggan's Ghost Nation: Imagined Space and Australian Visual Culture, 1901-1939 just recently that I understood the provenance. So, yes, a facade which I hope is tacky and colourful enough to beguile readers into entering the mirk labyrinth I've tried to construct behind ... like a ride on the Ghost Train? Or a sojourn in Giggle Palace? Or a trip to the Crazy House perhaps ...

8 comments:

Okir said...

Re: the White City in St. Louis, also famous to some Filipinos (although for rather infamous reasons) because of its Filipino exhibition; Filipino natives exhibited in the "reservation" area of the Fair, along with Native American tribes, where they provided some entertainment of the mondo-Filipino type.

And where my grandfather and granduncles played clarinet for the 9th cavalry band (also known as the Buffalo soldier regiment), led by a rather handsome African American named Lieutenant Loving (who later became somewhat infamous himself).

Okir said...

Actually the 9th cavalry was one of several that were part of the Buffalo regiment. Ironically my grandfather is buried in the same Kansas cemetary as Gen. Armstrong Custer...

Martin Edmond said...

There seem to have been White Citys all over the (western) world, with their various strangenesses ... I did not know there were Filipino Buffalo soldiers though ... watched a TV reconstruction of Little Big Horn the other night, learned that in those days the US calvary got down from their horses to fight - in groups of four or five, with one man holding the horses and the others kneeling to fire - Lt Loving? is a name to conjure with ...

Okir said...

The Filipino became Buffalo soldiers in an odd way. The so called Buffalo soldiers were sent to the Philippines to fight Filipinos when they resisted American colonization (some of the black soldiers went missing and joined the Filipinos); the Army formed sort of adjunct regiments (not sure what else to call it) of Filipinos attached to the 9th & 10th cavalries. Later, some of those Filipino soldiers settled in the U.S. around Ft. Riley Kansas.

Martin Edmond said...

so is that where your people come from, stateside I mean? St Louis? what a strange & wonderful story.

Convict Scorpion said...
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Okir said...

On my grandfather's side, they're from Junction City Kansas (2nd wife's kids). Not that far from where L.Frank Baum (Wizard of Oz) author lived. The rest of the family's all from the Philippines, except me -- born in San Francisco.

Photo of Lieutenant Loving & Band.
But enough about my family! Congratulations on finishing your draft!

Okir said...

oh, sorry, forgot to include the link:
http://mtalusan.bol.ucla.edu/research.htm