My new book Melbourne Circle: Walking, Memory and Loss was launched on 3 December 2020.
The cover art, by the Melbourne artist Jim Pavlidis, captures exactly what I am trying to express in the book: the sense of magic and mystery that exists in ordinary suburban streetscapes, and the way we carry our own histories with us as we walk.
The book is based on a series of walks my wife Lynne and I took in 2014-2016, which together formed a big circle around Melbourne. During our journey on foot, which passed through some 50 suburbs, we encountered ghost signs, derelict buildings and lost places, and uncovered countless forgotten stories from the past. I wrote a blog about these walks, titled Melbourne Circle.
In 2018, I experienced another kind of loss when Lynne died of cancer. Writing the book about our walks became a way not just of exploring the history of Melbourne but of coping with my grief by telling our story. The book is a personal memoir as much as it is travelogue or social history. In addition to some sections which originated as blog posts, the book reflects on how our lives unfolded in the Melbourne suburbs, and how we built meanings together through our relationships with these places.
As the title suggests, the themes are loss, memory, connection to place, and regeneration. The implicit argument of the book is that connection with place is a key to the meanings of our lives.
Melbourne Circle: Walking, Memory and Loss is published by Arcadia, an imprint of Australian Scholarly Publishing.