Armin Greder, Australia to Z
Published 2016 by Allen & Unwin, 32p
It is hilarious now, looking back, to remember how difficult it was in my first months in Australia, to understand and adjust to their rhythm, language (oh, they can talk fast) and lifestyle. Coming from a country where people seem to always be in a rush (not necessarily always having a purpose), I initially didn’t enjoy the small talk at the shops, all the abbreviations (arvo for afternoon, brekkie for breakfast, footy for football, Macca’s for McDonald’s, brolly for umbrella) and the general feeling to take things slowly as there is enough time for everything.
So I smiled when I discovered Armin Greder’s Australia to Z and I spent some time thinking how my perspective and priorities changed when becoming part of a new society, how it took time to discover and assimilate the values and realities of a multicultural society whose dynamic was so different from what I had previously experienced.
Australia to Z is an unusual alphabet book; its main purpose is not to teach the alphabet but to illustrate the Australian national, modern symbols and realities, in an alphabetical order. Greder’s views might be considered disturbing or exaggerated for some and his gloomy, gothic style can also be difficult to handle but the book actually raises a few profound, essential questions when describing a society. Identity is defined by the good-bad dichotomy and the ability to find harmony in their coexistence; as there is no ideal society, Greder illustrates the strengths and the weaknesses of the Australian culture, pointing their vulnerabilities but celebrating their history, icons and values.
A is for Aborigine, B is for Boat People, F is for Footy, H is for Hat, K is for Kangaroo, P is for Pokies, V is for Vegemite, X is for Xmas.