Reg Dodd, an Arabunna elder born at Finniss Springs, is a natural storyteller. At various stages of his life he?s been a stockman, a train inspector, a heritage officer, a photographer, a singer and a tour guide. Malcolm McKinnon is an artist, curator, writer and filmmaker who has worked with Reg Dodd on a series of projects spanning almost thirty years. He shares a deep attachment to country around Finniss Springs.
The story of Finniss Springs reads like a fable. An inter-racial utopian dream set in the Australian desert unravels when the patriarch dies, families turn on each other, mining companies and lawyers circle like predators. There is manipulation and venality and violence, decency and courage and resilience. It's telling is a testament to the long friendship between the authors, and a revelation of the complexities and hazards of the Aboriginal preference for 'talking sideways'. Talking Sideways is a unique, enthralling and important contribution to the growing literature of place in Australia. Kim Mahood, author of Position Doubtful Talking Sideways is not just a great yarn. Rather it's hundreds of sly little yarns all braiding into a big net that catches and carries a staggering bulk of knowledge about old, deep Australia. And about friendship. More than just a book, it's a new kind of literature, a big, battered vehicle that has been hot-rodded by two crafty sidekicks - one indigenous, one interloper - venturing into a world of wanting, wishing and remembering that they have resolved to encompass together. Ross Gibson, Centenary Professor of Creative & Cultural Research at the University of Canberra A lesson in strategy, acceptance and perseverance, and a significant story for Aboriginal people negotiating the many challenges we inherit. Jared Thomas, William and Margaret Geary Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and Culture, South Australian Museum