An Obsessional Storyteller. “Xavier Herbert: Letters” by Frances de Groen and Laurie Hergenham. [review]
The cover of this substantial volume tells you what's coming: it features a photograph of Xavier Herbert, sixtyish and fit-looking, standing behind the converted 4WD that constitutes his bush camp and dressed in nothing but a pair of stubbies. His eyes are blazing and a bit mad, his shoulders slightly hunched, and he looks as if he's been holding forth for some time. To whom? For Herbert, it probably didn't matter. You can see the man Vance Palmer described in 1941: 'You feel he's got a large chaotic world of jetting imagination inside him and it will always be desperately hard for him to write because he's got a lot to say and he's got this sort of garrulousness that keeps him talking about his matter instead of brooding on it and giving it form'.