Simpson Returns (AU Edition)

October 31, 2020
Simpson Returns (AU Edition)

Ninety years after they were thought to have died heroically inthe Great War, the stretcher-bearer Simpson and his donkey journeythrough country Victoria, performing minor miracles and survivingon offerings left at war memorials. They are making theirtwenty-ninth, and perhaps final, attempt to find the country'sfamed Inland Sea.On the road north from Melbourne, Simpson and his weary donkeyencounter a broke single mother, a suicidal Vietnam veteran, arefugee who has lost everything, an abused teenager and a derangedex-teacher. These are society's downtrodden, whom Simpson believescan be renewed by the healing waters of the sea.In Simpson Returns, Wayne Macauley sticks a pin in theballoon of our national myth. A concise satire of Australianplatitudes about fairness and egalitarianism, it is timely,devastating and witheringly funny.'Novelist Wayne Macauley has re-cast Simpson in far more humanterms than much of the early (and later pop) historiography, as theeternal helper wandering through a later Australian landscape,social and geographic. It is masterful and beautiful, and a triumphin thought-provocation. Macauley's Simpson Returns andFathi's Our Corner of the Somme are the most challengingand thought-provoking things I've read about Anzac since the end ofthe profligate four-year centenary.'Guardian'Wayne Macauley's novella is a limpid meditation on the natureof selflessness and compassion, juxtaposed with striking, bleak,often piteous tales from those our nation tends to grind underfoot.It compels us to reflect on the gap between aspiration and action,on why the ideals Simpson embodies in our culture don't play alarger role in everyday life.' Age'By placing Simpson in a modern context, Macauley is able to askquestions about who we really are as a nation, about compassion andhypocrisy, and if we have changed at all over the past 100years...The Simpson of legend, the one we are most familiar with,was originally created to sell war. In contrast, the Simpson ofMacauley's book – and, based on the few truths we know, of reallife – is more about compassion.'Guardian