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There lay over Melbourne, as over all Australia, a mass hopelessness that touched everyone, even those who felt secure. It was impossible to escape being affected by it. In the third book of Alan Marshall's three-part autobiography, his own struggle to assert himself socially and professionally despite his disability, becomes overwhelmed by the Depression that gradually engulfs those around him. Resilient now to disabling circumstances, Alan Marshall survives a sacking, a bankruptcy and a short-lived venture as an apartment proprietor. Escaping Melbourne's oppressive influence, he wanders the roads to the north, finding rich experience in his encounters with vagabonds and sideshow folk. Told with gentle humour and moving sympathy, his story leaves one with a vivid picture of grim times and admiration for a remarkable man.
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A writer with an ear for the rhythms of Australian speech, Melbourne-based Alan Marshall published in the dominant social realist tradition of the 1940s and '50s. The author of short stories, journalism, children's books, novels and advice columns, he is best remembered for the first book of his autobiography, I Can Jump Puddles (1955) His work is marked by a deep interest in rural and working-class life, with an emphasis on shared experience.
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