So I finally found something to read. And it’s a book I really should have read before now. But in my defence I have tried to read The Fatal Shore several times before but never gotten close to even halfway through this 600-plus page book.
In that time I’ve actually bought three different copies of the book. The first time I started was in our bicentennial year of 1988, when I cracked open my parents’ hardback that had been sitting on the bookshelves at home. But a 600-plus page hardback is murder on the wrists and so I went and bought a much less painful paperback. And made my dad cranky for “wasting” money buying a book we already had. Yeah, he never understood book geekery.
I never finished either of those editions and I have no idea what happened to the paperback version. So, about 10 years ago my then-girlfriend now-wife and I were on holidays in Tasmania. We visited Port Arthur and, caught up in the convict theme, I purchased another copy of The Fatal Shore – the brown paperback you can see in the photo above. Despite several attempts over the years I never managed to finish it. But I kept the book because I felt it was pretty much required reading for Australians.
It sat on my shelves mocking me for the failure to get through it. So, struggling to find something to read, I set myself the challenge to finish the damned thing. After about two days I realised I had to buy another copy; the Port Arthur paperback had a flimsy cardboard cover that flopped around and didn’t provide the stability needed to support such a large book. And the text ran almost into the binding, forcing me to bend the book almost completely open to read each line. It made for a deeply distracting reading experience and, having already failed to finish this book on several occasions, I didn’t need anything like that to put me off.
So I bought the other copy of The Fatal Shore you see above. And I swear it will be the last I ever buy because I’m going to finish it this time.