Brutal honesty: One Hundred Years of Dirt

Response after reading: One Hundred Years of Dirt By Rick Morton

I am not born in Australia.

I am not gay.

I am not male.

I am not a journo.

I did not grow up on a property in western Queensland, Australia.

I have mild anxiety attacks but usually keep going.

When depressed, I get into bed and cry.

I am trying to renew my extended family through writing a novel about my father.

I am trying to be a steadfast supportive mother.


My reaction to this book?

No words.

This book is so courageous.

How can anyone write about his inner self with such honesty and power?


100 Years of DirtI heard something about One Hundred Years of Dirt on ABC Radio National. I don’t remember what. I picked up a copy at my public library. I put it on my stack of to-be-read books on the floor in a corner of my bedroom.

Whoops. An email reminder from the public library. I had only four days to read One Hundred Years of Dirt. I read it in three. The power of this book with all its exposed pain, lifted me out of a depression and back into writing. Thanks Rick.

Spoiler alert:

This book is NOT about living on a property in Western Queensland.

Dear Reader,

What books have had a powerful emotional impact on you?

Have you ever been amazed that someone could write with brutal honesty?






Author: Pamela Collett

I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. I have a B.A. from Stanford University and a M.Sc. from Cornell University. I have lived and worked in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, California as well as in Washington, DC. Outside the United States, I lived and worked in Venezuela, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Uganda, Somalia and Kenya. I currently live in Canberra, Australia. I edited three books: Bold Plum: with the Guerillas in China's War against Japan by Hsiao Li Lindsay; Peace and Milk: Scenes of Northern Somalia by James Lindsay and Fatima Jibrell; and Solo vale si piensas rápido by Mehedy Lopez, a book of poetry in Spanish. In 2016, I published a book of my poetry and drawings, Silence Spoken. I have taught communication skills, English as a second language, and English for journalists (in Beijing, China) at university and secondary school levels. I was a features writer for the Daily Journal, (Caracas, Venezuela), and The Chronicle of Higher Education. I am a member of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Writers Centre, active in a writers’ group and a contributor to poetry readings, That Poetry Thing, in Canberra, Australia.

3 thoughts on “Brutal honesty: One Hundred Years of Dirt”

  1. Thanks again for your words, Pamela. They convey the same brave honesty as – from what you say –
    the book you wrote about.

    Quickly – a few books (there are so many) that have profoundly touched me:

    Fugitive Pieces, by Anne Michaels;
    Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte;
    The Earthsea Trilogy, by Ursula le Guin;
    The Harp in the South, by Ruth Park;
    The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, by Randolph Stow;
    Watership Down, by Richard Adams;
    Storm Boy, by Colin Thiele;
    A Long Way From Verona, by Jane Gardam;
    Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak;
    The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley;
    And most poetry by Rilke.

    There are more.
    I realise writing this, how many were books I read as a kid, teen or very young woman… and wonder how much of their impact was because of my openness, youth, as-yet-unformed-ness – that is, my newness to books; and how much was the inherent power of each book? Some were classic/ literary and others not at all.

    Pondering on the qualities they share…

    Good storytelling;
    Strong moral/ ethical base and/ or message;
    The strengths and frailties of being human – of the human heart;
    The ability of the human soul to choose for good or evil when challenged;
    Grief, loss, fear, facing them – and our shadow;
    The power of love in all its forms.

    Perhaps some of this sounds cheesy but, let’s face it, these are what powers many of our best tales.

    Have also been exploring again Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and this is perhaps another quality many of the above books share.


  2. Fantastic… thoughts that are much more than a “comment”. Interesting list of books…I have not read all of them. Reading for me (obsessively) while young was also about escape… and to believe there was more to the world than my immediate surroundings.
    Your list of qualities resonates within me. Beautifully written! thanks!


  3. Pamela – how could I forget:

    The Gates of the Forest;
    Night, both by Elie Weisel,

    The Periodic Table, by Primo Levi
    (Have not yet read If This is a Man)

    Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl.

    Real, strong, difficult, brave. Important books for their humanity, frailty, courage – lived experience survived, witnessed, told.


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