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''Social mobility is not a train you get to board after you've scraped together enough for the ticket. You have to build the whole bloody engine, with nothing but a spoon and hand-me-down psychological distress.''
Violence, treachery and cruelty run through the generational veins of Rick Morton's family. A horrific accident thrusts his mother and siblings into a world impossible for them to navigate, a life of poverty and drug addiction
''One Hundred Years of Dirt'' is an unflinching memoir in which the mother is a hero who is never rewarded. It is a meditation on the harshness of country life and the anger which can be passed down from generation to generation, and also a testimony to the strength of familial love and endurance.
But it is also the story of a gay man, whom, already aware as a young boy that being homosexual in a small country town was not a viable option, uses his own talents and resilience to get himself out, but not without screw-ups and breakdowns. Written with humour, self-awareness and passion, this is a powerful and uplifting memoir.
Rick Morton has escaped his past and become a leading journalist and social affairs writer for The Australian.
Paperback, 192 Pages, Published July 2018
Author: Rick Morton
''One Hundred Years of Dirt had me spellbound from the get-go. Morton is a crack storyteller and his words and stories are infused with genuine compassion. It's a magnificent book, the clarity of it is inspiring''
''Buy it. Read it. It is a memoir and a collection of essays, but much more than that. It is both broadly and deeply political without a syllable of lazy thinking or labelling. An overdue reminder that class remains a defining component of identity. Funny and tragic, often in the same sentence. And perhaps most important of all, written with a clarity and beauty that leaves me breathless.''
Prof. Margaret Simons, Monash University
''From the Birdsville Roadhouse to the Higgs Field, with an emotional rollercoaster in between, this is a brutally raw, beautifully written, remarkably brave memoir.''
Simon Crerar, Buzzfeed Australia
''Incredible. I laughed and cried and punched the air often and all at once. The story explains your brilliant insight into how poverty, class & trauma shape lives and how blind we are to their power.”
Sarah MacDonald, ABC Radio
Recommended by Graeme Aitken
"This memoir by a journalist of his upbringing on an immense farming station in the Australian outback is immediately attention-grabbing and atmospheric but may also be startling to city-dwellers as the hardships and harshness of this existence are revealed. Rick’s grandfather George Morton and his family owned five cattle stations that were collectively the size of Belgium - 30 000 square kilometres. But life in the outback is unforgiving and can sometimes prove fatal. A family travelling through the outback on Christmas Eve by car, break down in an isolated spot, and eventually succumb to the 50 degree heat. Their bodies are found by Morton’s grandfather. A great wind sweeps sand inside a farmhouse, caking a baby in her cradle. Rick’s brother Toby is consumed (and almost killed) by a fireball in front of him, due to a careless farmyard accident. But what is also fascinating about this memoir is that Rick Morton is a gay man, and so this upbringing was especially challenging for him. The book opens with the attention-grabbing line that Rick’s sister Lauryn has taken up hunting wild pigs. It will be startling to urban readers, but rather humdrum to country folk. Hunting in rural communities is very commonplace and yes some women also turn their hand to it. It is not immediately apparent that there is anything remotely gay-themed about One Hundred Years of Dirt - praise from Christos Tsiolkas on the cover may be construed as a hint - but this is one of the most evocative and distinctive Australian books of the year. Seek it out!"